Covid reduces Australian life expectancy: Report

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Canberra, Jan 6 (IANS): The Covid-19 pandemic drove a fall in Australia’s life expectancy and a historic spike in death rates, a government report revealed on Friday.

The Centre for Population report said that almost 80 per cent of Australia’s Covid-19 deaths occurred in the first eight months of 2022, when the restrictions were lifted in the country, reports Xinhua news agency.

There were approximately 129,000 total deaths in Australia between January and August — 17 per cent more than the historical average.

In the first week of August alone there were 4,200 deaths — 20 per cent higher than the historical weekly average.

As a result, the life expectancy for Australians fell by 0.4 years in 2021-22 and is not expected to recover until 2023-24.

By 2033, life expectancy is forecast to reach 87 years for women and 83.5 for men.

The portion of the population aged over 65 will grow from 16.8 per cent in 2020-21 to 23.1 per cent by 2061.

However, the report noted that by doubling Australia’s migrant intake, the 2061 figure could be brought down to 19.9 per cent.

“Because migrants arriving in Australia are relatively young, overseas migration has helped slow Australia’s population aging amid declining fertility rates and increasing life expectancies,” it said.

Liz Allen, a demographer from Australian National University (ANU), said the country was facing years of slow population growth and the report showed the impact of Covid-19.

“In the not too distant future, deaths are predicted to increase and births will decrease, which will see us more reliant on migration as an economic requirement, to ensure our workforce is sufficient,” she said.

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