Good health Canberra: ACT has longest life expectancies in the country

Ian Bushnell 19 October 2017
Life expectancy

A long and happy life: Canberrans are estimated to have the longest life expectancy nationwide.

Canberrans can look forward to living on average about a year longer than their fellow Australians, with new figures showing the ACT has the highest life expectancy for both men and women in the country.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said that life expectancy for men in the ACT was 81.3 years, compared with the national figure of 80.4, while for women it was 85.2 compared with 84.6 nationally.

ABS Director of Demography Beidar Cho said that nationally life expectancy for women was at a record high, increasing to 84.6 years in 2016 and was now the sixth highest in the world, with Japan topping the list with 86.4 years.

Male life expectancy remained steady at 80.4 years, with only two other countries in the world having higher male life expectancy – Iceland at 80.6 years and Switzerland at 80.5 years.

A decade earlier Australian men were looking at 78.7 years, while female life expectancy was 83.5

The Northern Territory, with its high Indigenous population, had the lowest life expectancy for both males (75.6 years) and females (78.7 years).

For male life expectancy, the ACT edged Victoria (81.2 years), with New South Wales (80.4 years), South Australia and Western Australia (both 80.3 years), Queensland (80.1 years) in a close group.

Tasmanian men, however, had a life expectancy of 78.8 years.

Women in South Australia and Western Australia can both look forward to 84.8 years, followed by Victoria (84.7 years), New South Wales (84.6 years), Queensland (84.5 years) and Tasmania (82.9 years).

A person born in 2015 is expected to live between 33.2 years and 33.7 years longer than someone born in 1890 when life expectancy was 47.2 years for males and 50.8 years for females.

Earlier in this 125-year period, infants contributed the most to life expectancy improvements, but more recently this contribution had declined.

“This reflects a major shift in causes of death from infectious diseases to chronic diseases,” Ms Cho said.

The ABS said the gains in life expectancy had been attributed to the decline in deaths from heart disease and lung cancer in males, partly due to improved diet and anti-smoking initiatives, as well as prevention strategies and advanced medical treatment of cardiovascular conditions.

It said infant deaths had decreased from 105 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1901 to 3.2 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015 as a result of vaccination, effective use of antibiotics, and improvements in public sanitation and health education, as well as better neonatal care in the 1970s.

In 2016, there were 158,504 deaths in Australia. Of that, 81,867 were men and 76,637 women.

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