What’s your life expectancy in Australia?

MICHAEL LUND
Life expectancy in Australia hit a record high in 2017-19 with girls born during those years set to live 85 years and boys to live 80.9 years.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Demography Director Lauren Ford said we continued to have a higher life expectancy than countries such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, but we were still ranked 6th behind leader Japan.

“Male life expectancy has increased by 0.2 years since 2016-2018, and by 1.6 years in the past 10 years,” she said.

“Female life expectancy has increased by 0.1 years since 2016-2018, and by 1.1 years in the past decade.”

Life expectancy from year of birth

While it may be good news we’re expected to live longer in the future, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia says it’s an issue that will affect those heading for retirement. More on that later.

Which states and territories have the highest and lowest life expectancies?

According to the ABS life tables data, girls born in the Australian Capital Territory in 2017-2019 can expect to live the longest, at 85.6 years, compared with the other states and territory. For boys, it’s best if they were born in Victoria during that time as they can expect to live 81.8 years.

Life expectancy in years by state and territory

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State or territory Men Women
Australian Capital Territory 81.6 85.6
New South Wales 80.7 85
Northern Territory 75.5 80.6
Queensland 80.3 84.8
South Australia 80.4 84.7
Tasmania 79.5 83.6
Victoria 81.8 85.5
Western Australia 80.9 85.4

Those born in the Northern Territory have the lowest life expectancy, at 80.6 years for girls and 75.5 years for boys. But the ABS says life expectancies in the NT showed the largest gains of all the states and territories over the past decade, up 2.2 years for boys and up 1.6 years for girls who reach adulthood.

The ABS breaks down the data into many small statistical divisions that shows both boys and girls born in 2017-2019 in North Sydney and Hornsby can expect to live the longest, at 85.4 years and 87.8 respectively.

Life expectancy in Australia

The Northern Territory Outback is where both genders can expect to live the shortest, at 72.2 years for boys and 76.6 for girls born in the same period.

That’s an age difference in life expectancy nationally of 13.2 years for boys and 11.2 for girls who reach adulthood.

Life expectancy in other countries

Australia has the sixth-best overall life expectancy in the world. Japan is in the lead, followed by Switzerland, Singapore, Spain and Italy.

Australia ranks fifth for life expectancy of women and eighth for men.

Life expectancy: top 10 countries

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Country All Men Women
Japan 84.47 (1st) 81.33 (4th) 87.51 (1st)
Switzerland 83.63 (2nd) 81.69 (1st) 85.47 (5th)
Singapore 83.46 (3rd) 81.34 (2nd) 85.58 (4th)
Spain 83.43 (4th) 80.69 (10th) 86.12 (2nd)
Italy 83.35 (5th) 81.13 (7th) 85.41 (7th)
Australia 83.28 (6th) 81.31 (5th) 85.27 (8th)
Channel Islands 82.93 (7th) 80.97 (8th) 84.8 (9th)
Iceland 82.86 (8th) 81.34 (2nd) 84.37 (15th)
Republic of Korea 82.85 (9th) 79.72 (18th) 85.79 (3rd)
Israel 82.82 (10th) 81.14 (6th) 84.39 (14th)

Source: Figures in brackets show global ranking and the ABS has used figures based on United Nations data for 2018

What factors affect life expectancy?

There are many factors that could impact on your life expectancy, some of which are out of your control such as when and where you were born, and your gender at birth.

But the Department of Health says your life expectancy can also be affected by your socioeconomic status, including employment, income, education and economic wellbeing.

Other factors to consider include the quality of available health care you are able to access, whether you smoke, drink too much alcohol, or whether you have a healthy diet and exercise enough.

In a separate study the ABS found that in 2017-18, 13.8% of adults were smokers, that's just under one in seven people. This figure has fallen from 23.8% in 1995 but has stayed relatively similar in recent years (14.5% in 2014-15).

Despite Australia’s reputation as a place of deadly creatures, the leading causes of death are all health related, including cancer, heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

If you’re comparing life insurance policies, the comparison table below displays some of the policies currently available on Canstar’s database for a 30-39 year old non-smoking man working in a professional occupation.

Please note the table is sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) followed by provider name (alphabetical) and features links direct to the provider’s website. Use Canstar’s life insurance comparison selector to view a wider range of policies.

Will you need to plan for a longer retirement?

If we’re living longer that means you may need to plan for a longer retirement. It’s an issue that was highlighted in a report, Rethinking Retirement, prepared by demographer Bernard Salt for the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia.

“The issue is that the extra years gifted to the life cycle for today’s Australians aren’t added to youth or even to middle age,” the report said.

“No, the extra years of life are added to the end of life creating, for the first time in history, an extensive retiree class.”

Canstar data already suggests many Australians could be likely to suffer from a shortfall in superannuation savings if they want to retire comfortably.

Now may be a good time to look at your plans for any savings or investments, and your retirement plans including any super. If you have children, it may also be a good time to start planning for their financial future.

Cover image source: BGStock72/Shutterstock.com


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