Epidemiologic Transition in Australia – the last hundred years

  • Heather Booth
Keywords: Mortality, trends, decomposition, life expectancy, differentials, Australia


Mortality change in Australia since 1907 is analysed in the light of Epidemiologic Transition theory. Trends in life expectancy by sex and the sex difference, are examined at ages 0, 50, 65 and 85 years. Trends in mortality by major cause of death are broadly related to the stages of the Epidemiologic Transition, and a decomposition of changes in life expectancy by age and cause of death is used to further elaborate on the progression through three stages, the Age of Receding Pandemics, the Age of Degenerative and Man-Made Diseases and the Age of Delayed Degenerative Diseases. A consideration of temporal changes in age patterns of mortality decline includes a focus on infant mortality, the accident hump and mortality at older ages. In the early decades of the twentieth century, Australia was a leader in the Epidemiologic Transition, but had lost this advantage by 1950. Differentials by state/territory, indigeneity and socio-economic factors identify the leaders and laggards in the transition.