Australian men on top when it comes to life expectancy

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Australian men are now living longer than any other group of males in the world, according to new research from the Australian National University (ANU).

The study introduces a new way of measuring life expectancy, accounting for the historical mortality conditions that today’s older generations lived through.

By this measure, Australian men, on average, live to 74.1.

The news is good for Australian women too; the study shows they’re ranked second, behind their Swiss counterparts.

Dr Collin Payne co-led the study, which used data from 15 countries with high life expectancies across Europe, North America and Asia.

“Popular belief has it that Japan and the Nordic countries are doing really well in terms of health, wellbeing and longevity. But Australia is right there,” Dr Payne said.

“The results have a lot to do with long-term stability and the fact Australia has had a high standard of living for a really, really long time. Simple things like having enough to eat and not seeing a lot of major conflict play a part.”

Dr Payne’s study grouped people by year of birth, separating ‘early’ deaths from ‘late’ deaths, to come up with the age at which someone can be considered an ‘above-average’ survivor.

“Most measures of life expectancy are just based on mortality rates at a given time,” he said.  

“It’s basically saying if you took a hypothetical group of people and put them through the mortality rates that a country experienced in 2018, for example, they would live to an average age of 80.

“But that doesn’t tell you anything about the life courses of people, as they’ve lived through to old age.

“Our measure takes the life course into account, including mortality rates from 50, 60 or 70 years ago.

“What matters is we’re comparing a group of people who were born in the same year, and so have experienced similar conditions throughout their life.”

Dr Payne says the design of the new method demonstrates whether someone is reaching their cohort’s life expectancy.

“For example, any Australian man who is above age 74 we know with 100 per cent certainty has outlived half of his cohort – he’s an above average survivor compared to his peers born in the same year,” he said.

“And those figures are higher here than anywhere else that we’ve measured life expectancy.

“On the other hand, any man who has died before age 74 is not living up to their cohort’s life expectancy.”

Dr Payne says there are a number of factors that might have contributed to Australia jumping ahead in these new rankings.

“Mortality was really high in Japan in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. In Australia, mortality was really low during that time,” he said.

“French males, for example, drop out because a lot of them died during WW2, some from direct conflict, others from childhood conditions.”

Dr Payne is now hoping to get enough data to look at how rankings have changed over the past 30 or 40 years.

What do you think of this new way of measuring life expectancy?

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Written by Ben


Total Comments: 10
  1. 0

    Not sure that death in wars is quite the same thing as death from old age, but then again death from poor diet or motor accidents, – all arguably a choice in a way, – how do you weigh them?

  2. 0

    You can twist statistics any way you like to tell any story you want. In case these findings encourage anyone to think Australia is doing great, one has to remember that we have key issues which need action, and such rubbery statistics should not blind us to these.

    For example, I came to know that Pauline Hanson is pushing for a Senate Enquiry to Review Australia’s Family Law system, which she noted is causing 3 Male suicides a day! Good on her, and hope they act soon and strongly to eliminate this human-made disgusting legal system which causes these outcomes. Link below to Pauline’s web page which should be read by all interested:

  3. 0

    Oh no – the media will have nothing to pick on us about!

  4. 0

    A lot of older Australians were born in the UK, Holland, Germany etc etc, during WW2. Food shortages, split families, daily bombings, evacuations etc – lots of reasons, you would think, to shorten our lives, but that doesn’t seem to be borne our by these methods. People are complicated and there are too many variables to come to fixed conclusions.

    • 0

      An interesting point about people living through WW2 is that in the U.K. food rationing actually provided the general population with a better balanced diet than they were used to.
      Another aspect of course is that those employed in industry had to be fed properly to ensure production output was maintained.
      I lived through those days, albeit being very young, and although there was a shortage of food, and a massive blackmarket in foodstuff as well as other items, the food balance was healthy.

  5. 0

    Interesting, Tanker. I was just a small child at the end of the war in London and remember the strangeness of real eggs, as against powdered eggs, and Mum queuing for oranges and bananas when the first ship came in with them.

  6. 0

    It is not how long you live but how healthy and fit you are enough to enjoy life, no point living long just suffering and languishing on deaths door.

    • 0

      So true, musicveg, I have long wanted an OFF buttton, but difficult to arrange, – even though maybe 15 years from now, my daughter no want.
      Has to be the person wants to go makes the decision



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