Australia: Life expectancy gap between rich and poor almost 20 years


Australia: Life expectancy gap between rich and poor almost 20 years

John Mackay

14 August 2017

The Social Health Atlas, a new analysis of government health statistics, has revealed much lower life expectancy and far higher rates of avoidable deaths in working class suburbs when compared to wealthier suburbs in Australian cities.

In terms of average age of death, life expectancy between rich and poor areas of both Sydney and Melbourne differed by almost 20 years. One of Sydney’s poorest western suburbs, Mt Druitt had the lowest median age of death, 68 years. The suburbs of Cherrybrook and West Pennant Hills, about 30 kilometres away in Sydney’s wealthier northern areas, had a median age of 87.

A similar picture was shown in Melbourne, where the inner eastern suburb of Camberwell had the highest age of death at 88 years. This contrasted with Cranbourne North, 40 kilometres to the south, where the median was 69.

According to the 2014–15 taxation office records, Cherrybrook residents had an average annual taxable income of $70,774, compared to $46,274 for Mt Druitt. Likewise, Camberwell’s average was $79,065, while Cranbourne North’s was $50,526.

The 19-year gaps in life expectancy are nearly twice that between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. In 2016, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that gap was about 10 years.

Both results are damning. But the new analysis points to the underlying reality that it is class, not race, that determines the health and social inequality in capitalist society. Indigenous people are affected above all because they are likely to be poor and working class.

The Public Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU) from Torrens University Australia produced the Social Health Atlas, an analysis of data…

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