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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin

New estimates of Indigenous life expectancy

Date posted: 25 May 2009

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has produced substantially revised estimates of the life expectancy of Indigenous people in Australia. The new estimates, necessitated by concerns about its previous estimation procedures, suggest that life expectancy at birth of Indigenous males in 2005-2007 was 67.2 years (11.5 years less than the life expectancy at birth of non-Indigenous males). The estimate for Indigenous females was 72.9 years, 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. The estimates for Indigenous females range from 69.2 years (NT) to 75.0 years (NSW).

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.

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'.


Australian Bureau of Statistics
Ph: 1300 135 070
Fax: 1300 135 211

Matthew Montgomery
Ph: (02) 6252 6487


Last updated: 29 May 2009
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