The life expectancy of Australians is on track to rise to 83.5 years in 2021 from 83.4 years in 2020, according to a new report.
It is also the highest in a decade and will surpass the UK’s 80.9-year mark.
The study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, which also found the number of Australians over the age of 85 was at its lowest level since the 1970s, said the number is set to grow in the coming decades.
It found that more than 80 per cent of the nation’s population will be aged over 85 in 2021.
“This represents the biggest change in life expectancy in the nation in decades,” Professor Roberta Martin-Gould said.
“The growth in life expectancies in the past decade has been extraordinary, and we are seeing this reflected in other countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.”
The report said the most striking finding in the report was the number in the aged pension.
“As of the end of 2021, almost a third of the Australian population is 65 years of age or older,” the report said.
While it has remained steady over the past three decades, the number has risen to just over 40 per cent in 2021, up from 28 per cent.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics said the increase was driven by the introduction of universal healthcare and the introduction in 2021 of a new system for managing people over the ages of 65, with a goal of reaching a universal pension age of 75 by 2023.
In 2020, the proportion of Australians aged 65 or older was 16.9 per cent, which is well above the national average of 15.1 per cent and is the highest proportion of all age groups.
The number of people aged 65 and over in the population is expected to increase from 13.1 million in 2020 to 14.1 billion in 2021 as the population aged.
“Australians over the old age of 65 are more likely to live longer and be more physically active, as well as healthier and healthier-looking,” Professor Martin-Bould said in a statement.
“However, we are also seeing an increase in people who are under 65 who are living longer, have lower levels of education and are less physically active.”
The study also found Australians are living shorter lives than in other parts of the world.
Australians in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all saw their life expectancy rise by one year over the period, while Australia’s life expectancy was the lowest at 82.6 years.
The report noted that the proportion who lived to be 100 in 2020 was the highest since 2000.
However, it also noted that while this was the first time that Australians over age 85 were living longer than the general population, it was the fourth time since 1980.
“While life expectancy is generally higher than the national mean, Australians live longer because of lifestyle choices, which include living longer and healthier,” Professor Simon Chapman, from the University of Queensland, said in the statement.
The research also found there was an increase among men in the age group 40-59 years, with an increase of 1.9 years from 2011 to 2021.
It also found that men and women aged 60-69 years were more likely than their male counterparts to be living to 100 in 2021 and were more active, having a lower incidence of depression and smoking and more likely be involved in sports and other activities.