Aussie men lead long lives

Friday, 30 August, 2019

Aussie men lead long lives

Australian men are living longer than any other group of males in the world, research from The Australian National University shows.

And Australian women are ranked second behind their Swiss counterparts.

The research was published in the journal Population Studies.

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

"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's 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."

The study introduced a way of measuring life expectancy that accounted for the historical mortality conditions that today's older generations lived through.

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

The study grouped people by year of birth, separating 'early' deaths from 'late' deaths, to come up with the age at which someone could be considered an 'above average' survivor.

"Most measures of life expectancy are just based on mortality rates at a given time," Dr Payne 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 said this method allowed researchers to clearly see whether someone was reaching their cohort's life expectancy.

"For example, any Australian man who's above age 74 we know with 100% 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's died before age 74 is not living up to their cohort's life expectancy."

Dr Payne said there were a number of factors which might have contributed to Australia jumping ahead in the rankings.

"Mortality was really high in Japan in the 30s, 40s and 50s. In Australia, mortality was really low during that time," Dr Payne said.

"French males, for example, drop out because a lot of them died during World War II, 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 last 30 or 40 years.

Countries with the highest life expectancy based on the study’s Lagged Cohort Life Expectancy (LCLE) method

Men Women
Australia (74.1) Switzerland (79.0)
Sweden (74.0) Australia (78.8)
Switzerland (73.7) Norway (78.6)
Norway (73.1) Sweden (78.4)
Netherlands (72.6) Netherlands (78.2)

Image credit: ©

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