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New estimates of Indigenous life expectancy

Posted on: 27 May, 2009
Issue: Vol 9 No 2, April 2009 - June 2009
Related to Deaths Population

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has produced substantially revised estimates of the life expectancy of Indigenous people in Australia. The new estimates, necessitated by concerns about previous estimation procedures, suggest that life expectancy at birth in 2005-2007 for Indigenous males was 67.2 years (11.5 years less than the life expectancy at birth for non-Indigenous males) and 72.9 years for Indigenous females (9.7 years less than that for non-Indigenous females). The new estimates for Indigenous people are substantially higher than the ABS’s previous ones – 59.4 years for males and 64.8 years for females in 1996-2001. Life expectancy of Indigenous males ranges from 61.5 years for those living in the Northern Territory to 69.9 years for those living in New South Wales, and for Indigenous females ranges from 69.2 years for those living in the Northern Territory to 75.0 years for those living in New South Wales.

The ABS emphasises that, due to the changed methods, comparisons between these and previously published estimates should not be made, ‘differences should not be interpreted as measuring changes in Indigenous life expectancy over time’. The adoption of the new procedures followed a rigorous assessment of a range of methods for estimating life expectancy in situations where the deaths data are incomplete, which is the case for Indigenous people in Australia.

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