7.3 Mortality rates among the Maltese

The mortality rate among the Maltese in Australia in 19 0-82 was 14.8 per 1000 for males aged 55-64 years and reached 44.5 per 1000 for those in the 65-74 aged bracket. This represents one of the highest mortality rates in all ethnic groups but is closest to Australian- and British-born with mortality rates greater than 40/1000, while for the S. European the rate is 31.2/1000 for males and 16.5/1000 for females.

Athough the SMR for males is significantly lower than that of the Australian born (87 compared to 100), it is much higher than that of other Southern European countries, such as Greece (61), Cyprus (53), Italy (61), Spain (67), Portugal (56) and more similar to that of England and Wales (85). For females, the SMR is 95 which is much higher than S. European ratios. In other words, the SMR for Maltese males is 30% higher than the S.European average and for Maltese females it is 50% higher. (Young 1986, p171)

The "age specific mortality ratio" compares the mortality rates of Maltese-brn at each age group with the corresponding Australian born mortality rates. While the mortality rates for Maltese-born under 45 years of age is low, it is very high for those over 65 years of age - in fact for Maltese females aged 65 + years the specific mortality ratio is the highest in the list, and very much higher than the corresponding S. European (128 compared to 72).

Finally, the mortality rates tend to vary with length of stay, in Australia. The SMR shows a montonic increase with increasing duration of residence. It is of interest that although the SMRs for Maltese are comparable to other S. European countries for the first few years of residence, it becomes much larger after 15 years or more of residence. Moreover, the rate of increase in SMR for Maltese is one of the highest (7.3 for males and an estimated 14 for females - Young 1986 p 51). This means that the greatest increase in mortality with increasing residence occurs in Maltese females. The reason for this is probably related to the fact that Maltese tend to have a lower life expectancy irrespective of whether they are living in Australia or m Malta, and therefore this high rate cannot be interpreted as in any way resulting directly from the Australian way of life!

Source: Maurice N. Cauchi - Maltese Migrants in Australia, Malta 1990

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