Life expectancy went backward in Australia for the first time in three decades during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The decline was small, at 0.1 years, Australian Bureau of Statistics data released on Wednesday revealed.
But it was still the first fall since the early 1990s, the data for the years 2020 to 2022 showed.
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An Australian female born today is expected to live 85.3 years, while a male is expected to live for 81.2.
Bureau head of demography Beidar Cho said the overall drop wasn’t cause for alarm, given Australia’s high life expectancy ranking compared to other countries.
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“Despite slightly lower life expectancy in Australia, it’s still higher than before the pandemic and continues to be one of the highest in the world,” she said in a statement.
Australia ranks third behind Monaco and Japan, according to United Nations estimates.
“We expect most new babies in Australia today will live into the 22nd century,” Cho added.
The bureau also noted that the fall was relatively insignificant given the large amounts of deaths due to COVID-19, with more than half of deaths recorded in 2022 occurring amongst people aged older than 80.
“This is the first time that deaths across all three years of the COVID-19 pandemic have been used in calculating life expectancy,” Cho said.
“The first two years of the pandemic had the two lowest mortality rates on record from all causes, however in 2022 the number of deaths increased by 20,000, with close to 10,000 of these being due to COVID-19.”
By individual region, people living in Sydney’s Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury have the highest life expectancy for men (85.7 years), while North Sydney and Hornsby were the highest for females (88.2).
Of the states and territories, the Northern Territory had the lowest life expectancy in both categories, at 76.2 for males and 80.7 for females.
The ACT had the highest life expectancy, at 82.2 years for males and 86 for females.
Globally, Monaco citizens have an overall life expectancy of 85.95 years, ahead of Japan (84.78) and then Australia (84.53).
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