AIHW Board AIHW senior staff Annual report Capability statement Collaboration Customer care charter FOI - freedom of information Indexed list of files Conferences & events Organisation chart Presentations Privacy of data Public consultation Strategic Directions 2011-2014 Tenders
By category Ageing, disability & carers Families & children Hospitals Housing & homelessness Indigenous Australians Population groups Risk factors, diseases & death Services, workforce & spending
By subjectAdoptions Aged care Ageing Alcohol & other drugs Arthritis & musculoskeletal conditions Asthma Australia's health Australia's welfare Burden of disease Cancer Cardiovascular health Child health, development & wellbeing Child protection Children's services Chronic diseases
Chronic kidney disease Chronic respiratory conditions Deaths Dementia Dental & oral health Diabetes Disability Expenditure Eye health Food & nutrition Health indicators Homelessness Hospitals Housing assistance Indigenous Australians Injury Life expectancy
Male health Mental health Mothers & babies National health priority areas Overweight & obesity Palliative care Population health Prisoner health Risk factors Rural health Safety & quality of health care Veterans' health Workforce Youth health & wellbeing Youth justice
In other sections Data Publications Contact AIHW
Publications CatalogueOrdering publicationsForthcoming publicationsOnline reportsRate our publication effectivenessSubscribe to release notices
By subject Adoptions Aged care Ageing Alcohol & other drugs Arthritis & musculoskeletal conditions Asthma Australia's health Australia's welfare Burden of disease Cancer Cardiovascular health Child health, development & wellbeing Child protection Children's services Chronic diseases Chronic kidney disease
Chronic respiratory conditions Corporate publications Data linkage Data standards Deaths Dental & oral health Diabetes Disability Expenditure Eye health Food & nutrition General practice Health indicators Health priority areas Homelessness Hospitals Housing assistance Indigenous Australians Indigenous housing
Injury Life expectancy Male health Mental health Mothers & babies Overweight & obesity Palliative care Population health Prisoner health Risk factors Rural health Safety & quality of health care Veterans' health Workforce Youth health & wellbeing Youth justice
In other sections Subjects Data Contact AIHW
About AIHW data METeOR - metadata online registry Data by subject Catalogue of holdings of AIHW data Data integration Data standards Privacy of data
By subject Aged care Alcohol and other drugs Alcohol data sources Body weight data sources Cancer Children's headline indicators
Chronic disease indicators Deaths Disability Expenditure FHBH - Fixing houses for better health General practice (GP) data Hospitals Height and weight data sources
Indigenous Australians International collaboration Medical indemnity Mental health National indicator catalogue National core maternity indicators Risk factors statistics Tobacco data sources Workforce
In other sections Subjects Publications Contact AIHW
AACR ACFADD AHSAC AIHW Board AIHW Ethics Committee CKDMAC AODTS NMDS WG CMAG CSDWG CVDMAC HEAC HHIMG
IGIHM JJ RIG MHISS MyHospitals NAGATSIHID NCIAG NCSIMG NDDWG NDIMG NHISSC NIAG NIRAPIMG NMDD
NMDS NOPSAD NPDDC NPHEP NPHIC PCDWG PDWG PHIDG PHIG REDWG Workforce committees YIAG
Education worksheets What's in the pipeline Subscribe to education notices Other educational links
Worksheets by subject All Latest Ageing Australia's health Australia's welfare Carers
Children & youth Disability Disease Drugs
Health Health prevention Indigenous Australians Injury
In other sections Subjects Data Publications Contact AIHW
Job vacancies How to apply for a position at the AIHW Conditions of employment Benefits of working for the AIHW Indigenous temporary employment register Temporary employment register Occupational Training Program Contact the People Unit Subscribe to employment notices Graduates
AIHW Access magazine Conferences & events Media releases Subscribe to release notices Media FAQ Media contacts
You are here:
On this page
Life expectancy is the most commonly used measure to describe population health. Life expectancy measures how long, on average, a person is expected to live based on current age and sex-specific death rates. It is often expressed as the number of years of life a person born today is expected to live.
Life expectancy in Australia has improved dramatically for both sexes in the last century, particularly life expectancy at birth. Compared with their counterparts in 1901–1910, boys born in 2010–2012 can expect to live around 25 years longer and girls live an extra 26 years.
Sources: ABS 2008; ABS 2013a.
In Australia, a boy born in 2010–2012 can expect to live to the age of 79.9 years and a girl would be expected to live to 84.3 years compared to 55.2 and 58.8 years in 1901–1910 respectively.
Life expectancy changes over the course of a person’s life because as they survive the periods of birth, childhood and adolescence, their chance of reaching older age increases. The life expectancy at different ages can be presented as the number of additional years a person can expect to live or their expected age at death in years.
Men aged 65 in 2010–2012 could expect to live another 19.1 years (an expected age at death of 84.1 years) and the life expectancy of women aged 65 in 2010–2012 was 22.0 years (an expected age at death of 87.0 years).
For the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population born in 2010–2012, life expectancy was estimated to be 10.6 years lower than that of the non-Indigenous population for males (69.1 years compared with 79.7) and 9.5 years for females (73.7 compared with 83.1).
Since 2005–2007, Indigenous life expectancy at birth for boys increased by 1.6 years and by 0.6 years for girls. Over the same period, the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous life expectancy narrowed by 0.8 years for males and 0.1 years for females.
For more information of Indigenous life expectancy, see the Indigenous observatory.
Australia enjoys one of the highest life expectancies of any country in the world, at 82.0 years in 2011 for males and females at birth combined—ranked seventh among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The highest life expectancy at birth was 80.7 for males in Iceland, and 85.9 for females in Japan.
Source: OECD 2013.
Life expectancy is calculated using a statistical tool called a life table. A life table is generated from current age- and sex-specific death rates in a given population. The resulting values are used to estimate the likelihood of someone in a hypothetical population dying before their next birthday.
Calculating a person’s life expectancy is based on death patterns in the population, and assumes that current death rates will persist throughout that person’s life.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) publishes life tables and calculates life expectancy for the Australian population and for some groups of the population. These measures are based on 3 years of data to reduce the effect of variations in death rates from year to year.
Life expectancy is related to the average age at death within a population and is inversely related to the population death rates at that time; that is, the lower the death rates the greater the life expectancy. It varies between population groups and over time. High life expectancy is also often associated with low infant and child death rates, an ageing population and access to high quality health care.
Differences in life expectancy over time may be due to changes in the patterns of death due to certain conditions. For example, in 1922 infectious disease accounted for 15% of all deaths in Australia and on average people dying from these diseases were 27 years old. By comparison, in 2011 infectious diseases accounted for less than 2% of deaths and the average age at death for these diseases was closer to 75 years. For more information like this and for other causes, see the General Record of Incidence in Mortality (GRIM) Books.
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2008. Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2008. ABS cat. no. 3105.0.65.001. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2013a. Deaths, Australia, 2012. ABS cat. no. 3302.0. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2013b. Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2010–2012. ABS cat. no. 3302.0.55.003. Canberra: ABS.
OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) 2013. OECD health data online, June 2013. Paris: OECD. Viewed 26 August 2013.