Changes in disability prevalence over time

The expected years of living with and without disability have been estimated using the combined data sources of mortality (life tables) and disability prevalence rates. Because of this, examining patterns and changes in disability prevalence rates can shed light on the patterns and trends in health expectancies. See also Prevalence for more information.

Between 2003 and 2015, the crude rates of disability and of severe or profound core activity limitation generally decreased for both sexes, and especially for older Australians (aged 65 and over).

Because the likelihood of disability increases with age, and the age structure of a population may change over time, age-standardised rates allow for meaningful comparison of the underlying prevalence rate over time. Between 2003 and 2015, the age-standardised rates of disability and of severe or profound core activity limitation generally decreased, and particularly for older Australians.

Overall, while males made greater gains than females in terms of decreases in the overall prevalence of disability, females made greater gains in terms of decreases in severe or profound core activity limitation.