CAUSES OF DEATH
Causes of death statistics are key to understanding Australian society and health. The use of these statistics for demographic and health purposes provides significant information for the formulation and monitoring of health and other social policies. For example, causes of death information provides insight into the diseases and factors contributing to reduced life expectancy.
In Australia, causes of death statistics are recorded as both underlying cause, i.e. the disease or injury which initiated the train of morbid events leading directly to death; and multiple cause, i.e. all causes and conditions reported on the death certificate that contributed, were associated with or were the underlying cause of the death (see Glossary for further details).
Causes of death data in this publication are classified using the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). For further information see Explanatory Notes 34-37.
This data can be presented by using varying types of aggregation depending on the requirements of the data user. In this publication, data are presented in a number of ways to allow different types of analysis.
Chapter 2 of this publication presents data ranked by Leading Causes of Death. The methodology for the listing used is based on research presented in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, see Explanatory Note 42. Data presented by leading cause is useful when comparing causes of death in different populations and/or over time.
Chapter 3 of this publication presents Underlying Cause of Death data commentary. Data presented in this manner are used to analyse particular causes or groups of similar causes. Information on median age at death and changes over time for selected causes is presented in this chapter with further data presented by ICD-10 chapter in the data cubes associated with this publication.
Chapter 4 presents data on Multiple Causes of Death. Multiple cause of death data are useful in the analysis of all the associated conditions that led to death, rather than the underlying cause alone.
Chapter 5 on Suicides and Chapter 6 on Deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people present summary data on these specific areas of public interest.
Chapter 7 presents Perinatal Deaths data. Perinatal deaths comprise stillbirths (fetal deaths) and deaths of infants within the first 28 days of life (neonatal deaths).
Chapter 8 presents data by Year of Occurrence.
In 2011, there were 146,932 deaths registered in Australia, 3,459 (2.4%) more than the number registered in 2010 (143,473). The standardised death rate (SDR) decreased to 5.6 deaths per 1,000 standard population in 2011, down from 5.7 in 2010. Standardised death rates are calculated using the 2001 total population of Australia as the standard population (see Glossary for more information).
In 2011, males accounted for 51.3% (75,330) of registered deaths, a slightly higher proportion than females, who accounted for 48.7% of registered deaths (71,602).
The number of deaths for both males and females has increased compared with 2002 (68,885 and 64,822 respectively), but the increase has been larger for females. In 2002 there were 106 male deaths per 100 females. In 2011 this sex ratio dropped to 105 male deaths per 100 females.
Further details on numbers of deaths registered can be found in Deaths, Australia, 2011 (cat. no. 3302.0).
Leading Cause of Death
In 2011, Ischaemic heart disease, defined as ICD-10 codes I20-I25, was the leading underlying cause of death in Australia. Ischaemic heart disease includes angina, blocked arteries (heart) and heart attacks. It was the underlying cause of 14.6% of all registered deaths in Australia. It accounted for 15.6% of all male deaths, and 13.7% of all female deaths registered in 2011. Ischaemic heart disease has been the leading cause of death in Australia since 2000.
Underlying Cause of Death
The table below presents summary causes of death data for each major chapter of the ICD-10. Further information on selected causes for 2011 is presented in Chapter 3 of this publication.
Multiple Cause of Death
1.1 DEATHS, BY ICD-10 CHAPTER LEVEL - 2011(a)(b)
Proportion of total deaths
Standardised Death Rate(c)
|Cause of death and ICD code |
|Certain infectious and parasitic diseases (A00-B99) |
|Neoplasms (C00-D48) |
|Diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs and certain disorders involving the immune mechanism (D50-D89) |
|Endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases (E00-E90) |
|Mental and behavioural disorders (F00-F99) |
|Diseases of the nervous system (G00-G99) |
|Diseases of the circulatory system (I00-I99) |
|Diseases of the respiratory system (J00-J99) |
|Diseases of the digestive system (K00-K93) |
|Diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissue (L00-L99) |
|Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue (M00-M99) |
|Diseases of the genitourinary system (N00-N99) |
|Certain conditions originating in the perinatal period (P00-P96) |
|Congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities (Q00-Q99) |
|Symptoms, signs and abnormal clinical and laboratory findings, not elsewhere classified (R00-R99) |
|External causes of morbidity and mortality (V01-Y98) |
|All Causes(d) |
|(a) Causes of death data for 2011 are preliminary and subject to a revisions process. See Explanatory Notes 29-33 and Technical Notes, Causes of Death Revisions, 2006 in Causes of Death, Australia, 2010 and Causes of Death Revisions, 2009 and 2010 in this publication. |
|(b) See Explanatory Notes 89-101 for further information on specific issues relating to 2011 data. |
|(c) Standardised Death Rate per 100,000 persons. See Glossary for further information. |
|(d) Includes deaths due to Diseases of the eye and adnexa (H00-H59), Diseases of the ear and mastoid processes (H60-H95) and Pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium (O00-O99). |
For the 146,932 deaths registered in Australia in 2011, there were 463,964 causes reported giving a mean of 3.2 causes per death. The mean number of causes reported per death varies with age, sex and underlying cause of death. In 18.2% of all deaths, only one cause was reported, while 37.1% of deaths were reported with three or more causes. For further detail on multiple cause, see Chapter 4
of this publication.
Causes of Death Revisions Process
All coroner certified deaths registered after 1 January 2006 are now subject to a revisions process. Where presented, this publication contains final 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 data and revised 2010 cause of death data. Final 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 data and revised 2010 data are also presented in the associated data cubes. Data released in this publication for 2011 are preliminary data. All coroner certified deaths registered in 2011 will be subject to the revisions process. For further information, see Explanatory Notes
29-33, Technical Notes, Causes of Death Revisions 2006
in Causes of Death, Australia
, 2010 (cat. no. 3303.0)
and Causes of Death Revisions 2009 and 2010
in this publication.
This page last updated 24 March 2014