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Death statistics Australia

What's the leading cause of death in Australia? How do we compare to the rest of the world? Find out other death statistics with our guide.

Death is a natural part of life, but the ways in which Australians are dying are changing over time. Heart disease and dementia are the most common causes of deaths. Although Australia outperforms many countries. Alcohol induced deaths are also on the rise.

How many Australians die each year?

In 2022 there were 190,939 recorded deaths in Australia according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), an increase of 11.4% from 2021. Approximately 52% of these were male deaths while the other 48% were female.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, men are more likely to engage in risky behaviours, more likely to be homeless or in custody, and are more likely to die from leading causes of death like heart disease. As a result, men tend to die at a younger age than women.

In 2022, those aged between 85 and 94 experienced the highest number of deaths at 61,994. Mortality risk typically declines after birth before slowly increasing again over time. In Australia infant mortality is extremely low, at 3.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. According to the World Health Organization in 2020, the global average is 29 per 1,000 births.

What is the leading cause of death?

The leading cause of death in Australia is Ischaemic heart disease which killed 18,643 people in 2022, an average of 52.4 deaths per 100,000. However, dementia is not far behind with Australia’s population ageing.

Australia has a lower mortality rate than the OECD average for most leading causes of death, particularly when it comes to heart disease and cerebrovascular disease. Lithuania (394.9per 100,000) and Latvia (296.6 per 100,000) have some of the highest rates of heart disease in the OECD.

Australia's rate of mortality from dementia (25.3 per 100,000) is slightly higher than most other OECD countries, but still lower than the Netherlands (51.1 per 100,000) and the United Kingdom (64.2 per 100,000).

Although heart disease has been the top cause of death for quite a while, dementia is poised to take over that top spot in the coming years. This is largely because over the last decade, deaths from heart disease have been slowing or declining, while deaths from dementia have been rising.

How do men and women differ in the statistics?

Men are twice as likely as women to die from heart disease, with a death rate of 72.2 per 100,000. However women are more likely to suffer dementia with a death rate of 28.0 per 100,000 compared to 21.2 for men.

Men are more likely to die from cancer, with stomach cancer, and lung cancer killing men at a rate of 52.8 and 32.3 per 100,000 compared to 34.1 and 21.5 for women.

Women are far more likely to die of Alzheimer disease, with a death rate of 17.0 per 100,000 compared to 12 for men.

Suicide rates for Australians

Men are much more likely than women to die from self-harm. In fact, 76% of all deaths due to self-harm occur in males. In total, there were 3,249 registered suicides in Australia in 2022. Of these, men died at a rate of 19 per 100,000, whilst women died at a rate of 6.1.

Depression is more likely to be a risk factor for women than men, with 41% of suicides in women occuring with it as risk factor compared to 33% for men. However, divorce and separation is a more likely risk factor for men, with 16% of suicides in men occuring with that as factor compared to 10% in women.

Alcohol and drug induced deaths

Whilst drug induced deaths have decreased from a peak of 8.2 per 100,000 in 2017 to 6.5 in 2022. Over the same time period, alcohol induced deaths have risen from a rate of 5.3 per 100,000 to 6.

Men are more likely to die from drugs and alcohol than women, with drug and alcohol deaths in men occurring at a rate of 8.5 and 8.7 per 100,000 respectively. This is almost double the rate of women at 4.5 and 3.4 per 100,000 respectively.

Do Australians have plans in place?

According to Finder's Consumer Sentiment Tracker, 75% of Australian adults have not taken out life insurance. Worryingly, 12% say they have not disclosed their smoking as a way to get a discount on their life insurance policy.

For the 23% of Australians who have taken out life insurance, superannuation, buying a house and having a baby were the biggest reasons for doing so. Women are more likely to take out life insurance after getting married or having a baby, while men are more likely to have life insurance bundled in with their superannuation.

54% of Australians say they have some form of health insurance, while only 25% report they have taken out life insurance. Australians report that they are generally satisfied with the level of their health insurance cover, with 68% of Aussies stating they do not wish they had a higher level of cover.

44% of Australians say they take out health insurance for peace of mind. Other major reasons include the use of extras, avoiding lengthy waiting periods and the luxury of choosing their own hospitals and doctors.

Compare some options for life insurance

If you're concerned about your health and about the welfare of those close to you, why not consider life insurance? Life insurance can provide your family with peace of mind in the event something happens to you.

1 - 6 of 13
Name Product Maximum Cover Maximum Entry Age Terminal Illness Benefit Claims Acceptance Rate Average Claim Time Sum Insured
NobleOak Life Insurance
1.1 months
$24,483 million
Our verdict: Finder Life Insurance Award winner for the last 5 years in a row. Good value for money, simple application process and a high claims acceptance rate.

⭐ Current offer: Get one month free for a limited time - apply by 21 December 2023. Offer T&Cs on insurer website apply.
TAL Accelerated Protection Life Insurance
No set limit
Not stated
Data not available
1 months
$249,285 million
Our verdict: One of Australia's leading life insurers. Automatically includes child critical illness cover. Plus, it comes with a level premium option (e.g. costs remain similar as you get older).

⭐ Current offer: Get up to 15% off your TAL Life, Trauma or TPD insurance policy for life - if you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 19 and 28 at the time of your application. Offer T&Cs on insurer website apply.
Medibank Life Insurance
Data not available
Data not available
Data not available
Our verdict: Medibank offers a higher payout limit ($2.5 million) than 15 other providers. Get a 10% discount if you're already a Medibank Health Insurance member.
ahm Life Insurance
Data not available
Data not available
Data not available
Our verdict: ahm offers a simple application process. You can be approved online or over the phone. There are no medical or blood tests required.
RAC Life Insurance
1.1 months
$24,483 million
Our verdict: RAC’s maximum death cover limit of $25 million is one of the highest limits you’ll find, including $5 million in TPD insurance. You can get an online quote, but you’ll need to call RAC to get trauma cover. Benefit from added peace of mind with fully underwritten insurance.

Real Family Life Cover
2.4 months
$53,238 million
Our verdict: The application is simple; it can be done with 1 phone call and there are no medical exams. But households with larger debts may need more than a $1 million payout.

⭐ Current offer: Get back 10% of the premiums you’ve paid after 1 year.

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  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death, 2020
  2. OECD Stat, 2018
  3. Finder Consumer Sentiment Tracker, 2019-2021

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    GrahamOctober 2, 2021

    Of the covid related deaths since the commencement/inception of the pandemic, how many were not vaccinated.

      JamesOctober 6, 2021Finder

      Hi Graham,

      As of this time, we don’t have data on the number of unvaccinated people who died of COVID. To get a more accurate answer, we suggest that you check with the Department of Health. You may call them on 1800 020 080.


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