Life expectancy has declined for the first time in a generation because of the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
While Australians still have the third-longest life expectancy in the world, behind Monaco and Japan, the pandemic sliced 0.1 of a year off the average life span during the period 2020 to 2022, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Bureau head of demography Beidar Cho said this was the first fall in life expectancy recorded since the early 1990s.
While mortality rates from all causes hit a record low during the first two years of the pandemic, an extra 20,000 deaths during 2022 - half caused by COVID - caused life expectancy for women and men to drop.
A girl born during 2020 to 2022 had a life expectancy of 85.3 years, while for a boy it dropped to 81.2 years.
Despite the effect of COVID, Canberrans continued to have the greatest average life spans in the country. Life expectancy in the territory declined from 82.7 to 82.2 years - a year greater than the national average.
Ms Cho said that although the pandemic caused a spike in the number of deaths in 2022, the fact that 56 per cent of these were of people aged 80 years and older meant the effect on overall life expectancy was small.
As a result, life expectancy in Australia was "still higher than before the pandemic and continues to be one of the highest in the world," she said. "We expect that most new babies in Australia today will live into the 22nd century."
Life expectancy for men and women has increased significantly in the past 30 years. In 1992, female life expectancy was at 80.4 years, and has increased almost five years since then.
Over the same period, men's life expectancy has jumped from 74.5 years to 81.2 years, narrowing the average life span gap between men and women from 5.9 years to 4.1 years.
The increasing longevity of Australians is a significant development for the economy, with projections by Treasury that the number aged 65 years and older will more than double in the next 40 years and those aged 85 years or more will triple.
With people expected to live longer and spend more years in full health, ageing is projected to be a significant area of government spending, adding 1.5 percentage points of GDP to outlays over the next 40 years.
But the national figures also paper over significant regional disparities.
Those living in inner city areas had greater life expectancy than those in the outer suburbs or rural and regional areas.
Men living in North Sydney and Hornsby had a life expectancy of 85.2 years compared with just 71.6 years in rural Northern Territory - a difference of almost 14 years.
Among women, those living in Sydney's Ryde area could expect to live to 87.7 years, while for those in outback NT the life expectancy at birth was 75.8 years.
In a study released earlier this year, the Australia Institute attributed much of the the stark divide to differences in health outcomes.
The report found that within New South Wales, the top causes of death were "almost identical" between inner city and remote areas.
But people living in regional and remote locations were dying younger and from preventable causes at much higher rates than those in the city, with potentially avoidable deaths more than two and a half times as common in the far west as in Sydney.
Report author Kate McBride said the life expectancy divide "is a problem that extends beyond far western NSW".
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