Over the last century, overall life expectancy at birth for Australians has increased dramatically. Since 1990, there has also been a steady increase in the number of deaths, which reflects the increasing size of the population and, in particular, the increasing number of older people. With continued ageing of the population, the number of deaths is projected to continue to increase through the middle of the century.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS, Deaths, Australia, 2011–Cat. No. 3302.0), there were 146,932 deaths (75,330 males and 71,602 females) registered in Australia during 2011. This was an increase of 3,459 deaths (2.4%) on the number of deaths registered in 2010 (143,473).
Since 2001 the number of deaths registered has increased by around 1.2% per year on average for males and 1.5% per year for females, with year-to-year fluctuations.
Other findings from the ABS Deaths (2011) report include:
- Under current estimates, a boy born today could expect to live 79.7 years while a girl could expect to live 84.2 years. A male currently aged 65 could expect to live a further 19 years and female a further 22 years.
- Life expectancy is highest in the Australian Capital Territory with 81 for males and 84.8 for females and lowest in the Northern Territory with 74.9 for males and 80.5 for females.
- Over the past 10 years, the median age at death has increased by 2.9 years for males and 2.7 years for females at the national level.In 2011, the highest median age at death for males was in South Australia (79.5 years) and the lowest in the Northern Territory (61.4 years). For females, the highest median age at death was in South Australia (85.2 years) and lowest in the Northern Territory (62.2 years).
- In 2011, there were 1,140 infant deaths (children less than one year of age) registered in Australia (638 males and 502 females).
- There were 2,558 deaths registered in Australia in 2011 where the deceased person was recorded as being an Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, or both.
- Deaths tend to occur more often in some months than others. Over the period 2007–2009, an average of 141,000 deaths occurred each year in Australia. The largest numbers of deaths, on average, occurred in the winter months of July (6,900 male deaths and 6,600 female deaths) and August (6,800 male deaths and 6,700 female deaths). In comparison, the smallest numbers of deaths on average (5,300 male deaths and 4,800 female deaths) occurred in the summer month of February (noting that February is also the shortest month).
As a consequence of population growth, ageing and increasing death rates the demand for services relating to death, dying, funerals and memorials will continue to grow.