Life expectancy in Australia has reached record highs with a boy born today expected to live to 80.7 years and a girl to 84.9 years, according to the latest figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
“Male life expectancy has increased by 0.2 years over the 2015-2017 to 2016-2018 period, and by 1.5 years in the past ten years. Female life expectancy has increased by 0.3 years during the same period, and by 1.2 years in the past decade,” ABS Demography Director Beidar Cho said.
In recent years, life expectancy for males has improved at a faster rate than that for females. Around 50 years ago (1965-67), life expectancy at birth in Australia was 67.6 years for males and 74.2 years for females, a gap of 6.6 years. The gap has now narrowed to 4.2 years in 2016-2018.
“Australians have a higher life expectancy than similar countries, such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the USA,” Ms Cho said.
And for those Australians who make it as far as the traditional retirement age of 65 years, males can expect to live a further 19.9 years and females a further 22.6 years.
Life expectancy in your State
Victoria recorded the highest male life expectancy (81.7 years), followed by the Australian Capital Territory (81.2 years), New South Wales (80.6 years), Western Australia (80.5 years), South Australia (80.4 years), Queensland (80.2 years) and Tasmania (79.3 years).
Both Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory recorded the highest female life expectancies (85.3 years), closely followed by Western Australia (85.1 years), then New South Wales (84.9 years), Queensland and South Australia (both 84.7 years) and Tasmania (83.2 years).
The Northern Territory recorded the lowest life expectancy for both males and females (75.5 years and 80.2 years, respectively). Despite this, male and female life expectancies in the Northern Territory showed the greatest gains of all the states and territories, over the last decade (2.9 years and 1.8 years).
What does this mean for funeral directors?
Although changes in lifestyle and technology have extended our life expectancy, the truth is that by 2050, the number of Australians aged 65 or over is forecast to more than double from 3.2 million in 2012 to 7.9 million in 2050, an increase of approximately 2.4% per annum.
This suggests that in the coming decades, the the progression of the ‘baby boomers’ into the 65 and over age group will result in death rates at a steady rate.
For funeral directors, the sheer numbers could spell bigger business soon. With so many members of one generation reaching mortality in such a short span of time, funeral companies are rethinking their traditional business structure.
It sounds kind of morbid, but they are looking at boom times,” said Peter Erceg, owner of eziFunerals. “They’re just sort of waiting for the baby boomers to start dying off. But how much of a boom it’s going to be is open to conjecture.”
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