Life expectancy measures how long a person is expected to live, based on their sex and age-specific death rates.
Because the health of a person can be tested during birth, childhood, and adolescence, someone’s life expectancy at birth will be lower than someone in later life.
In Australia, the average life expectancy is 80.9 years old for males and 85 years old for females, which is about ten years more than people were living in the 1950s. Children born today can expect to live even longer than this.
In 1960, the female life expectancy was 11 years less than it is today. As of 1891-1900, if you were a newborn boy, you would expect to live to just 51.1 years old. Today, that life expectancy is 54.8 for girls and 55.5 for boys. (AIHW,2021).
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have a lower life expectancy than other Australians. 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 have been a factor in the higher mortality rates (AIHW, 2021).
However, there is plenty of hope for the future. As of 2017, life expectancy has increased by 4.4 years for indigenous boys and 2.7 years for girls (AIHW, 2021).
According to the World Health Organization, Australians have a life expectancy of 83.04 years old. 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.
Hong Kong has the highest life expectancy globally, with an average lifespan of 85.29 years old. They rank higher than Japan and Macao, which have life expectancies of 85.03 and 84.68 years old, respectively.
Australia currently ranks 8th on the world’s top 10 list with a lifespan of 84.21 years old on average.
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.
The average world population has an average life expectancy of 73.2 years for males and 75.6 years for females on average (Worldometer, 2021), with the lowest life expectancy in Lesotho in Southern Africa at 50.75 years old (World Health Organisation,2021).
We can find out what is the life expectancy in Australia by using a statistical method that considers the population’s death patterns. This method assumes that current death rates will persist throughout a person’s life.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) publishes life tables and calculates the life expectancy for the population. Data is collected from three years of data so that variations are less likely to occur and collated to show a more accurate life 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).