Australia’s leading causes of death, 2020

The latest Deaths report (2020) released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today provides some interesting facts about deaths and mortality rates.

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  • In 2020 there were 161,300 deaths, a decrease from 2019. 
  • Ischaemic heart diseases were the leading cause of death, accounting for 10.3% of all deaths. 
  • Deaths from the top five leading causes all decreased from 2019.
  • The top five leading causes of death have remained the same since 2011.
  • There were 898 deaths from COVID-19, ranking as the 38th leading cause of death.

Leading causes of death

In 2020 for people who died:

  • 52.4% were male (84,588) and 47.6% were female (76,712).
  • Their median age at death was 81.7 years (78.9 for males, 84.6 for females).
  • The top five leading causes accounted for more than one-third of all registered deaths.

In 2020 the leading causes of death: 

  • The leading cause of death was ischaemic heart diseases (IHD).
  • Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease was the second leading cause of death. People who died from dementia had a high median age at death of 89.1.
  • Cerebrovascular diseases, lung cancer and chronic lower respiratory diseases rounded out the top five leading causes. 
  • Deaths from the five leading causes all decreased from 2019.
  • There were 55 deaths due to influenza. Influenza and pneumonia dropped to the 17th leading cause of death (down from the 9th leading cause in 2019). The ranking of influenza and pneumonia is influenced by the severity of the flu season. 
  • Suicide was the 15th leading cause of death. People who died from suicide had median age at death of 43.5.
  • COVID-19 was the 38th leading cause of death, with 898 deaths recorded through the civil registration system. 

To learn more about death rates in Australia visit and



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