Causes of deaths in Australia – The Statistics

When are you likely to die? Around 160,000 Australians die each year.

Death Statistics

Statistics show that the age that you are likely to die will be influenced by whether you are male or female.

The 2016 Mortality statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) show the undeniable fact that females live longer on average.

For males the median age at death was 78 years old, while for females this was 84 years old.

This helps explain why life insurance premiums are generally higher for males than for females.

death by gender and age

While the graph shows the majority of us will live to a ripe old age, the scariest part of these statistics is that 25%, or 1 in 4 deaths, are before the age of 70. For males this figure is 30%, or nearly 1 in 3, while for females it is just under 20%, or around 1 in 5.

The risk of losing a family member at a young age or “before their time” is one of the main reasons why people take out Life Insurance.

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Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics Life Tables 2014-2016

How are you likely to die?

The cause of deaths in Australia also varies depending upon whether you are male or female as shown in the graphs below.

If you are male then coronary heart disease is far and away the most prevalent cause of death, accounting for more than twice the number of deaths compared to the next largest causes lung cancer and dementia (including Alzheimer) disease.

top 20 causes of death males

For females, dementia (including Alzheimer) disease tops the list, with coronary heart disease a close second and cerebrovascular disease (including stroke) responsible for the third highest number of deaths.

top 20 causes of death females

Deaths resulting from injuries, or accidental deaths, account for only 8% of overall deaths.

These numbers will obviously vary from year to year. In 2016 influenza and pneumonia accounted for 2.1% of all deaths or a total of 3,334 lives lost. In 2020 this number is projected to be much higher due to the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.

However the overall figures only tell part of the story. The top causes of death vary dramatically depending on your age group.

Major Causes of Deaths in the 1 to 14 age group

Accidents figure strongly as the major causes of deaths of young people aged between 1 to 14 years old – the most prominent being motor vehicle accidents and drowning. Cancer, in particular brain cancer and leukaemia, also account for over 11% of deaths.

Parents don’t like to contemplate the death or serious illness of their child. However taking out Child insurance, which covers illnesses like cancer, can mean that parents have the funds for expensive medical treatments and time off work to be with their sick children.

top 10 causes of death 1 14 year olds
top 10 causes of death 15 24 year olds

Major Causes of Deaths in the 15 to 24 age group

Sadly, in the 15 to 24 age group, self-inflicted harm in the form of suicide and accidental poisoning (drug overdose) dominate the causes of death. Motor vehicle accidents also account for over 21% of all deaths as young, inexperienced drivers hit the roads.

These statistics are behind the high Life Insurance premiums we see for teenagers and those in their early 20s.

Major Causes of Deaths in the 25 to 44 age group

Leaving young adulthood and entering middle age we find that deaths as a result of motor vehicle accidents decline, but suicide and accidental drug overdoses still account for around a third of all deaths. In this age bracket deaths from breast, colorectal and brain cancer also start to figure along with deaths from coronary heart disease and liver disease.

This is a critical age for most parents as they are usually raising young children, taking on debt to purchase a home and have little free cashflow. Deaths at this age are often unexpected and can have an extremely negative financial impact on the living standard on dependents unless there is the right amount of Life insurance in place.

top 10 causes of death 25 44 year olds
top 10 causes of death 45 64 year olds

Major Causes of Deaths in the 45 to 64 age group

In the 45 to 64 age bracket we see the emergence of various forms of cancer and coronary heart disease as the main causes of death, representing over 23% and 10% respectively of all deaths.

Survival rates for these conditions continue to improve. For every death, there are many more who suffer a serious illness but recover. Trauma insurance for these individuals is critical to help with their recovery by funding medical treatments and time off for recuperation. Taking out a level premium Trauma insurance policy at a young age can help keep the cost of this cover manageable in this age bracket when claims are increasing.

Major Causes of Deaths in the 65 to 74 age group

In the older age brackets after age 65 we start to see the emergence of dementia (including Alzheimer), cerebrovascular disease (including stroke) and diabetes as major causes of death. Still cancer (lung, colorectal, pancreatic, breast and other) continues to be the dominant cause of death comprising more than 23% of deaths.

For ages in excess of age 85, in addition to the diseases already mentioned, accidental falls and influenza/pneumonia start to feature in the top ten causes of death.

top 10 causes of death 65 74 year olds

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