Life expectancy is used to describe population health and their overall mortality rate. It measures how long roughly a person is expected to live based on sex-specific and age-specific death rates.

A person’s years of life expectancy increase with age, as their health is tested by birth, childhood, and adolescence. Therefore someone’s life expectancy at birth will be lower than someone in later life.

How long can I expect to live?

In Australia, the life expectancy at birth for a male born in 2017-2019 was 80.9 years old. Whilst the female life expectancy was 85 years old.

Children born today can expect to live longer than just 60 years ago as life expectancies around the globe have risen with developments in medicine and health awareness.

In 1960 the female life expectancy was 11 years less and three years less for males. In 1891-1900 if you were a newborn boy, you would expect to live to just 51.1 years old and 54.8 life expectancy as a girl (AIHW,2021).

Life Expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

As of 2017, the life expectancy at birth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is estimated to be 8.6 years less than a non-indigenous person. Higher rates of health problems such as acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease create higher mortality rates (AIHW, 2021).

Life expectancy has increased by 4.4 years for indigenous boys and 2.7 years for girls (AIHW, 2021).

How do we compare with the World?

As of 2019, an Australian’s life expectancy at birth, regardless of gender, is 83.04 years old.

According to the World Health Organization, this ranks us below countries such as Cyprus, Hong Kong, Japan, and Switzerland. However, we remain an overall leader with one of the highest life expectancies in the World.

Hong Kong’s life expectancy currently sits at the highest in the World with an overall life expectancy of 85.29, then Japan at 85.03 years old, and Macao at 84.68 years old.

Australia currently sits 8th overall in the World.

The average world population sits at 75.6 years of life expectancy for females and 70.8 years for males. Whilst average combined for all genders and countries is 73.2 years life expectancy (Worldometer, 2021).

The lowest life expectancy in the world population is 50.75 years old in Lesotho in Southern Africa (World Health Organisation,2021).

How do they calculate life expectancy?

You can calculate life expectancy through a statistical method called a life table. It is generated through the death patterns of the population, and it assumes that current death rates will persist throughout a person’s life.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics publishes life tables and calculates life expectancy for the population. They are based on three years of data so that variations are less likely to occur, and data can be collated to show a more accurate expectancy.

Differences in life expectancy are most notable when certain conditions change. For example, infectious disease outbreaks- like the Spanish flu in the 1920s after events such as these occur, changes within life expectancies are lower (AIHW,2021).

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