Objective: To evaluate the extent to which Western Australian (WA) represents the broader Australian population in terms of key socio-demographic and health economic indicators.
Methods: We compared key demographic, social and health economic indicators across all Australian States and Territories from Australian government publications in the census years 1991-2006. Jurisdictional averages (JAs) were calculated as the mean (+/-s.d.) or median (+/-range). Observed jurisdiction indicators were compared with the JA and ranked according its representativeness of the JA.
Results: WA was among the three closest jurisdictions to the national JA for all socio-demographic and health economic indicators examined, with the exception of uptake of private health insurance (ranked 6th) and per-capita health expenditure (ranked 5th). The Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory were least representative for the majority of indicators. Excluding the proportions of people living in rural or remote areas (0-100%) and of indigenous origin (0.4-28.8%), variations in the indicators across the jurisdictions were relatively small.
Conclusions: Population differences between Australia's States were small, whereas Australia's Territories were least representative of the JA. WA was the most representative population of Australia's eight jurisdictions and continues to be in a strong position to contribute to knowledge of the Australian health system that is applicable Australia-wide.