What’s the average life expectancy in Australia?

19 December 2019
Australian life expectancy hit a new record high in 2018, with babies born in that year expected to live to 80.7 years if they are male and 84.9 years if they are female.

“Australians have a higher life expectancy than similar countries, such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the USA,” said Beidar ChoDirector of Demography at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), who released the record figures.

“Male life expectancy has increased by 0.2 years over the 2015-2017 to 2016-2018 period, and by 1.5 years in the past ten years. Female life expectancy has increased by 0.3 years during the same period, and by 1.2 years in the past decade.”

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

According to the ABS, children born in Victoria have the highest life expectancy of all, at 85.3 years for girls and 81.7 years for boys, while children born in the Northern Territory have the lowest life expectancy, at 80.2 years for girls and 75.5 years for boys.

Between the 107 different statistical areas in Australia used by the ABS, life expectancy at birth varied as much as 12.5 years for males and 11.9 years for females. Capital city areas tended to have higher life expectancies than remote areas, with Melbourne – Inner East and Sydney – North Sydney and Hornsby having the highest life expectancies, and Northern Territory – Outback having the lowest life expectancies.

Male life expectancy in years (2016-18) Female life expectancy in years (2016-18)
New South Wales 80.6 84.9
Victoria 81.7 85.3
Queensland 80.2 84.7
South Australia 80.4 84.7
Western Australia 80.5 85.1
Tasmania 79.3 83.2
Northern Territory 75.5 80.2
Australian Capital Territory 81.2 85.3

Source: ABS

Life expectancy in other countries

Australia has the sixth best overall life expectancy in the world, behind Italy, Spain, Singapore, Switzerland, and Japan. Australia had the fifth best life expectancy for males and the eighth best life expectancy for females, according to the ABS.

The table below contains the top 10 countries for life expectancy estimates at birth, based on data from the United Nations compiled by the ABS.

Country Persons Males Females
Japan 84.43 (rank 1) 81.28 (rank 2) 87.47 (rank 1)
Switzerland 83.56 (rank 2) 81.60 (rank 1) 85.41 (rank 5)
Singapore 83.39 (rank 3) 81.25 (rank 3) 85.52 (rank 4)
Spain 83.36 (rank 4) 80.60 (rank 10) 86.05 (rank 2)
Italy 83.28 (rank 5) 81.04 (rank 6) 85.35 (rank 7)
Australia 83.20 (rank 6) 81.21 (rank 5) 85.22 (rank 8)
Channel Islands 82.84 (rank 7) 80.86 (rank 8) 84.74 (rank 9)
Iceland 82.77 (rank 8) 81.23 (rank 4) 84.31 (rank 15)
Republic of Korea 82.77 (rank 8) 79.63 (rank 18) 85.70 (rank 3)
Israel 82.74 (rank 10) 81.04 (rank 6) 84.32 (rank 14)

What factors affect life expectancy?

Your own personal life expectancy is affected by a number of things, primarily when you were born, and what gender you are. However your life expectancy can also be affected by your socioeconomic status, employment, education, and any substance addictions or habits you may have. Smoking and excessive drinking are two lifestyle factors which may have a significant impact on your predicted life expectancy.

Diet can also have an impact on your life expectancy – research published in the Medical Journal of Australia found that our diets are poorer than they were 30-40 years ago. This has resulted in conditions such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels becoming significant threats to overall life expectancy.

“While the long term health effects of being overweight are uncertain, there is evidence that the mortality risk from chronic diseases is increased even for moderately overweight people, and for extremely obese people is comparable with that for active smokers” the report said.

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 male 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.

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