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Males close gap on females as life expectancy hits new high in Australia

Stephen Lunn, November 9, 2021 6:30PM Kids News

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Life expectancy in Australia has never been higher, with males expected to live to 81.2 years and females to 58.3 years. Picture: iStock media_cameraLife expectancy in Australia has never been higher, with males expected to live to 81.2 years and females to 58.3 years. Picture: iStock

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Life expectancy in Australia has never been higher, new Australian Bureau of Statistics data reveals.

And male life expectancy is steadily catching up to females, the data shows.

A baby boy born in Australia today can expect to live to 81.2 years and a girl to 85.3 years.

This puts Australia fifth in the world for males, eighth for females and sixth overall.

“Australians have a higher life expectancy than comparable* countries such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the USA and lower life expectancy than Japan, Singapore and Switzerland,” ABS demography* director Beider Cho said.

media_cameraJapanese woman Kane Tanaka is thought to be the world’s oldest person at 118 years. Picture: AFP

The difference between the genders in Australia is closing relatively quickly. In 1990 life expectancy was 73.9 years for males and 80.1 years for females, a gap of 6.2 years. The gap narrowed to 4.1 years in 2018-2020.

There are also regional differences in life expectancy, with the ACT having the highest male and female life expectancy (82.1 years and 85.9 years), while the Northern Territory has the lowest (76.2 years and 81 years).

But life expectancy is rising fastest in the Northern Territory, up by 9.9 years for men and 8.7 years for women since 1990, the data shows.

There are significant differences between regions, with life expectancy generally higher in capital cities than in remote regions.

Family enjoying and riding bicycle on dirt track in park. media_cameraThree generations of a family enjoy a bike ride together. Picture: iStock

The Sydney suburbs of North Sydney and Hornsby were the areas with the highest life expectancy in Australia for males at 85.7 years, while for females it was the Sydney suburbs of Baulkham Hills, Hawkesbury and Ryde as well as Brisbane West in Queensland, at 88.1 years.

Outback Northern Territory had the lowest life expectancy of any area in Australia, at 73 years for males and 77.4 years for females.

The report concludes* that improved health services, medical and technological advances and safer working environments are the drivers behind improving life expectancy.

Internationally, Japan, Switzerland, Singapore, Spain and Italy are all ahead of Australia on the life expectancy tables for all persons.

Japan is the highest ranked for females at 87.67 years, while Swiss men are the longest living at 81.87 years.

Australia’s life expectancy, both for males and females, is a full two years longer than in the UK. A baby boy born in the UK today can expect to live to 79 and a baby girl to 82.9 years.

The US, already five years lower than Australia for life expectancy in 2019, has seen a significant recent fall due to high numbers of people dying prematurely* with Covid-19.

One Year Old boy celebrating brithday media_cameraMales are catching females for life expectancy in Australia. Picture: iStock

GLOSSARY

  • comparable: similar, able to be compared
  • demography: the study of human populations
  • concludes: decides something is true after examining evidence
  • prematurely: too soon, before the natural or usual time

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. What age can a boy born in Australia today expect to live to?
  2. What age can a girl born in Australia today expect to live to?
  3. What was the life expectancy gap between the genders in 1990?
  4. Which regions had the highest and lowest life expectancy in Australia?
  5. Which two countries were ranked highest for females and for males?

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CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Life expectancy differences
There is a lot of interesting data to digest in this Kids News article. Work with a partner to work through the following questions arising from the information presented. Just give your most informed opinion from the data given:

  • Why do you think females have a higher life expectancy than males?
  • Why do you think the ACT has the highest life expectancy rate?
  • Why do you think the Northern Territory has the lowest life expectancy rate?
  • Why do you think life expectancy is higher in capital cities than remote regions?
  • Why might Japan and Switzerland have the highest life expectancy rates?

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Geography; Personal and Social; Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Use the information from the article to compose a bar graph visually representing this life expectancy data. You can do it on paper or using a computer program if available to you.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Mathematics

VCOP ACTIVITY
Where in the world?
Taking all the data from the article into consideration, where would you choose to live and why? Write a short paragraph that includes your choice of location and the reasons why.

Up-level challenge – see if you can use the words ‘despite’ or ‘even though’ to show a contrast between the information.

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