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Life expectancy is an indicator of how long a person can expect to live on average given prevailing mortality rates. Technically, it is the average number of years of life remaining to a person at a specified age, assuming current age-specific mortality rates continue during the person's lifetime.
Life expectancy is a common measure of population health in general, and is often used as a summary measure when comparing different populations (such as for international comparisons). For example, high life expectancy indicates low infant and child mortality, an ageing population, and a high quality of healthcare delivery. Life expectancy is also used in public policy planning, especially as an indicator of future population ageing in developed nations.
The expected length of a life is inversely related to the mortality rates at that time. In Australia, life expectancy has increased significantly over the past century, reflecting the considerable falls in mortality rates, initially from infectious diseases and, in later years, from cardiovascular disease.
Based on the latest mortality rates, a boy born between 2009 and 2011 can expect to live to the age of 79.7 years and a girl would be expected to live to 84.2 years. Men aged 65 in 2009–2011 could expect to live another 19.1 years compared with another 12.2 years in 1965–1967. For women, life expectancy at age 65 was 22.0 years in 2009–2011 compared with 15.7 years in 1965–1967.
The latest data available indicate that life expectancy for Indigenous boys born between 2005 and 2007 was estimated to be 67.2 years (compared with 78.7 for non-Indigenous boys for the period) and for Indigenous girls 72.9 years (compared with 82.6).