3302.0 - Deaths, Australia, 2001  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 10/12/2002   
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December 10, 2002
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

Australians live longer: mortality indicators improve

In 2001, 128,540 deaths (66,830 males and 61,710 females) were registered in Australia, 250 more than in 2000 (128,290), according to a new report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Since 1981 the number of deaths has increased by an average of around 1% per year. The steady increase over time reflects the increasing size of the population and, in particular, an aging population. The death rate has declined 5% since 2000 and 36% since 1981, after accounting for the differences in the age structure of the population over the period.

The median age at death in 2001 was 76 years for males and 82 years for females (an increase of 6 and 5 years respectively on 1981 median ages).

Indigenous mortality

There were 2,100 deaths registered in 2001 where the deceased was identified as being of Indigenous origin (Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or both origins). The median age at death for Indigenous males was 52 years and 58 years for females.

Infant mortality

The 2001 infant mortality rate was 5.3 deaths of children less than one year of age per 1,000 live births, an increase of 2% from 2000, but a decrease of 47% since 1981. In 2001, over one-third (39%) of all infant deaths occurred within one day of birth.

Underlying cause of death

Malignant neoplasms (cancer) continued to be the most frequent underlying cause of death, with 36,800 deaths (29%), followed by ischaemic heart disease with 26,200 deaths (20%).

The total number of drug induced deaths was 1,040 - a 34% decrease in the number reported in 2000 (1,570).

2,450 deaths were attributed to suicide in 2001, slightly higher (4%) than in 2000 (2,360).

Life expectancy at birth

Australia's 1999-2001 life expectancy at birth of 77 years for males and 82.4 years for females is amongst the highest in the world. Indigenous life expectancy at birth was approximately 20 years less than for the total population, at 56 years for Indigenous males and 63 years for Indigenous females. Global life expectancy at birth in 2000-2001 was estimated to be 67 years (males and females combined).

Regional life expectancy at birth

In 1999-2001 life expectancy at birth for males and females varied across the regions of Australia by up to 11 years. Australia's more rural and remote populations had higher mortality rates and consequently lower life expectancy than populations living in capital cities and other urban areas.

Further details are in Deaths, Australia 2001 (cat. no. 3302.0) and Causes of Death, Australia 2001 (cat. no. 3303.0).