A report published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) delves into the increasing life expectancy and measures of longevity in Australia, posing the question of how long Australians can live.
While the average life expectancy has risen by 13.7 years for males and 11.2 years for females over the past five decades, the maximum age of death has shown minimal improvement. The report highlights that centenarian deaths have experienced unprecedented growth, but extreme ages (over 110) remain a rare event. Australia currently boasts one of the highest life expectancies globally and attributes the increase to improved medical knowledge, healthcare availability, and better living conditions.
According to the AIHW, Australia’s life expectancy ranks fifth among 38 other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, with Japan topping the list. While average life expectancy continues to increase, AIHW spokesperson Richard Juckes notes that the maximum age people live to has not changed significantly. The report emphasises the importance of understanding current trends in Australian longevity, the possibility of further increases in life expectancy, and how these trends have evolved over time.
The report highlights that improved medical knowledge, technological advancements, accessible healthcare, antibiotics, vaccines, and better living conditions have contributed to the increased life expectancy in Australia. However, the maximum age at death has only shown marginal improvement. The oldest recorded person in Australia was a female who passed away at age 114 in 2002, while the oldest living Australian male died at 111 years in 2021. The globally recognised record for the oldest person is 122 years, set in France in 1997.
The report provides valuable information for assessing mortality trends among the elderly and understanding the potential impact of an aging population on Australian society. It is important to note that the report does not address the biological limits to human longevity.
The AIHW also released updates to other reports, including Deaths in Australia, General Record of Incidence of Mortality (GRIM), and Mortality Over Regions and Time (MORT). These reports offer data on the leading causes of death categorized by Primary Health Network (PHN), Local Government Area (LGA), remoteness areas, and socioeconomic areas.