Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021) Deaths in Australia, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 25 May 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). 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, 25 June 2021, 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, 2021 [cited 2022 May. 25]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/life-expectancy-death/deaths-in-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2021, Deaths in Australia, viewed 25 May 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/life-expectancy-death/deaths-in-australia
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Life expectancy is the most commonly used measure to describe population health and reflects the overall mortality level of a population. Life expectancy measures how long, on average, a person is expected to live based on current age and sex-specific death rates. In summarising mortality patterns, life expectancy is often expressed as the number of years of life, from birth, a person 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 1881–1900, boys and girls born in 2017–2019 can expect to live around 30 years longer.
Sources: ABS 2014a; ABS 2014b; ABS 2015; ABS 2016; ABS 2017; ABS 2018a; ABS 2019; ABS 2020 (Table S6.1).
In Australia, a boy born in 2017–2019 can expect to live to the age of 80.9 years and a girl would be expected to live to 85.0 years compared to 51.1 and 54.8 years, respectively, in 1891–1900.
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 2017–2019 could expect to live another 20.0 years (an expected age at death of 85.0 years), and women aged 65 in 2017–2019 could expect to live another 22.7 years (an expected age at death of 87.7 years).
Sources: ABS 2014a; ABS 2020 (Table S6.1).
For the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population born in 2015–2017, life expectancy was estimated to be 8.6 years lower than that of the non-Indigenous population for males (71.6 years compared with 80.2) and 7.8 years for females (75.6 years compared with 83.4).
Between 2005–2007 and 2015–2017, Indigenous life expectancy at birth for boys increased by 4.4 years and by 2.7 years for girls. Over the same period, the difference between Indigenous and non-Indigenous life expectancy narrowed by 2.9 years for males and 1.9 years for females.
As shown in Table 6.2, this has resulted in a small decline in the life expectancy difference between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Sources: ABS 2009; ABS 2013; ABS 2018b.
Australia enjoys one of the highest life expectancies in the world, at 82.8 years in 2018 for males and females at birth combined—ranked seventh among 37 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The country with the highest life expectancy at birth for males was Switzerland (81.9 years), and for females was Japan (87.3 years).
Source: OECD 2020 (Table S6.2).
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 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 2019, infectious diseases accounted for less than 2% of deaths and the average age at death for these diseases was 80 years. For more information on this and other causes, see the AIHW General Record of Incidence in Mortality (GRIM) books.
Burden of disease measures include a measure of health-adjusted life expectancy which extends the concept of life expectancy by considering the time spent living with the health consequences of disease and injury. The measure reflects the average number of years of life expected in full health. For more information, see Burden of disease.
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2009. Experimental Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005–2007. ABS cat. no. 3302.0.55.003. Canberra: ABS
ABS 2013. Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2010–2012. ABS cat. no. 3302.0.55.003. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2014a. Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2014. ABS cat. no. 3105.0.65.001. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2014b. Life Tables, States, Territories and Australia, 2011–2013. ABS cat. no. 3302.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2015. Life Tables, States, Territories and Australia, 2012–2014. ABS cat. no. 3302.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2016. Life Tables, States, Territories and Australia, 2013–2015. ABS cat. no. 3302.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2017. Life Tables, States, Territories and Australia, 2014–2016. ABS cat. no. 3302.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2018a. Life Tables, States, Territories and Australia, 2015–2017. ABS cat. no. 3302.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2018b. Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2015–2017. ABS cat. no. 3302.0.55.003. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2019. Life Tables, 2016–2018. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2020. Life Tables, 2017–2019. Canberra: ABS.
OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) 2020. OECD Health Statistics 2020. Paris: OECD. Viewed 10 May 2021.
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