Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Deaths in Australia, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 08 February 2023.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). Deaths in Australia. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/life-expectancy-death/deaths-in-australia
Deaths in Australia. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 09 June 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/life-expectancy-death/deaths-in-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Deaths in Australia [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022 [cited 2023 Feb. 8]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/life-expectancy-death/deaths-in-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2022, Deaths in Australia, viewed 8 February 2023, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/life-expectancy-death/deaths-in-australia
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In 2020, there were 161,300 deaths registered in Australia (84,588 males; 76,712 females). The majority of deaths in Australia, like other developed countries, occur among older people (Figure 2.1). Sixty-six per cent of deaths registered in Australia in 2020 were among people aged 75 or over (60% for males and 73% for females). The median age at death was 79 years for males and 85 years for females (Table S2.1).
Source: AIHW National Mortality Database (Table S2.1).
Deaths in early childhood have reduced substantially over the past 100 years. In 1907, child deaths (aged 0–4 years) accounted for 26% of all deaths compared to 0.7% in 2020.
Child death rates presented here are calculated as the number of deaths among young children (aged 0–4) divided by the population of the same age and expressed as per 100,000 population.
In 2020, there were 71 child deaths per 100,000 population—29% lower than a decade earlier (2010) and 97% lower than in 1907 when recording began (Figure 2.2). The death rate was higher for boys than girls (75 and 67 deaths per 100,000 population respectively).
The drop in child deaths in Australia mostly reflects a decline in infant deaths (aged less than 1), which is linked to:
Source: AIHW National Mortality Database (Table S2.2).
Other measures of deaths in early childhood and infancy are also commonly used to describe the health status of a population:
Potentially avoidable deaths are deaths among people younger than 75 that are potentially avoidable within the present health care system. They include deaths from conditions that are potentially preventable through individualised care and/or treatable through existing primary or hospital care.
In 2020, there were 26,995 potentially avoidable deaths: half (49%) of all deaths for people aged less than 75. Of these deaths, 64% were male and 36% were female.
Potentially avoidable age-standardised death rates fell by 42% between 2000 and 2020 (from 168 to 97 deaths per 100,000 population). While the rates among both males and females have decreased by 42% in the past 20 years (from 218 to 127 deaths per 100,000 males and from 119 to 69 per 100,000 females), rates of potentially avoidable deaths have consistently remained higher among males than females throughout this period (Figure 2.3).
Source: AIHW National Mortality Database (Table S2.3).
Potentially avoidable deaths are classified using nationally agreed definitions based on cause of death for people aged less than 75. Historical data may differ from previous reports as the nationally agreed revisions to the definition of potentially avoidable deaths in 2021 have been applied.
Data on potentially avoidable deaths by small geographical areas are available as an indicator within the Australia's health performance framework and the AIHW Mortality Over Regions and Time (MORT) books.
Premature deaths can be summarised in terms of potential years of life lost (PYLLs). This measure considers only deaths that occur before a specified arbitrary age. For example, if dying before the age of 75 is considered premature then a person dying at age 40 would have lost 35 potential years of life.
Using the age of 75 as the cut-off, there were 880,379 PYLLs in Australia in 2020. This is 56% lower than the PYLLs in 1907 (1,576,383 PYLLs). Expressed another way, in 1907 there were 382 PYLLs per 1,000 population and in 2020 this figure was 37 PYLLs per 1,000 population; a decrease of 90%.
Males are more likely than females to experience premature death, however, the difference between the sexes is narrowing (Figure 2.4). In 1980, there were 109 PYLLs per 1,000 males compared to 58 PYLLs per 1,000 females: a difference of 51 PYLL per 1,000. This gap decreased to 29 PYLL in 2000 (66 PYLLs per 1,000 males and 37 PYLLs per 1,000 females) and 19 PYLL in 2020 (47 PYLLs per 1,000 males and 27 PYLLs per 1,000 females).
Source: AIHW National Mortality Database (Table S2.4).
PYLLs can be used to estimate the burden of mortality, which is the loss associated with early death. On this basis it is sometimes used as an indicator of the social and economic impact of premature deaths. Burden of disease measures include a component of years of life lost that is weighted according to the remaining life expectancy at that age of death, rather than using the age of 75 as the cut-off. For more information, see Burden of disease.
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