The death rate in 2020 was the lowest ever recorded, according to newly released data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
In 2020, 627.8 people per 100,000 died of any cause, a figure that has trended steadily downwards since the 1940s. There were 161,300 deaths in total.
Leading causes of death
The top five leading causes of death were coronary heart disease, dementia, cerebrovascular disease, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Covid was the 38th leading cause of death in 2020, according to ABS data released last month. “Australia is one of a small number of countries including New Zealand and Denmark which recorded a lower death rate during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the ABS found.
However, while Covid mortalities were low in 2020, deaths increased significantly with the Omicron wave. The death toll in 2022 is already more than double that of the previous two years combined.
Premature deaths by state/region
The Northern Territory had the highest rate of premature deaths – defined as those aged under 75 – in the country, followed by western Queensland.
In 2020, the NT’s age-standardised premature death rate was 323.9 per 100,000, compared to a national average of 193.1 per 100,000.
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The rates of premature and potentially avoidable deaths were highest in very remote Australia and lowest in the major cities.
Deaths by socioeconomic status
Socioeconomic disadvantage was associated with a higher rate of deaths from potentially preventable or treatable causes, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
The rate of potentially avoidable deaths in the most disadvantaged 20% of areas in Australia (139.8 per 100,000) was more than double the rate in the most advantaged 20% (64.5 per 100,000).
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