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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1994  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/05/1994   
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Contents >> Population >> Population Distribution: Aged Australia

Population Distribution: Aged Australia

Although most aged people live in the capital cities, many move to coastal resorts on retirement.

Australia's population is ageing. This is due to the interplay of a number of factors. Most significantly Australians are having fewer children, later in life, and are living longer.

Services such as housing, health care and community-based support services are delivered to the aged at the local level. To aid the planning and delivery of these services it is useful to identify those areas with relatively high concentrations of aged people and those in which the aged population is growing rapidly. It should be noted, however, that the aged are not a homogeneous group with a single set of requirements. Simple indicators of growth and concentration, therefore, do not alone give an adequate measure of current or potential demand for services.


In this review the term
aged is used to refer to the population aged 65 years and over.
Geographic classification

The Australian Standard Geographic Classification (ASGC) is designed to enable spatially classified statistics to be produced on a useful and comparable basis. It is used extensively for census statistics.

The primary geographic unit for the collection of census data is the census collection district (CD). CDs can be aggregated to form 1,346 statistical local areas (SLAs) which in turn can be aggregated to form 196 statistical sub-divisions (SSDs). The SSDs aggregate to 67 statistical divisions (SDs) which then aggregate to the 8 States and Territories, without gaps or overlap.


For more information see
Australian Standard Geographic Classification (1216.0) and 1991 Census - Geographic Areas (2905.0).


Concentrations of the aged


The highest concentrations of aged people in Australia occur in resort/retirement areas and rural areas. The more remote areas and most areas within the capital cities have younger populations. In rural areas the concentrations of aged people are usually higher in the regional centres than in the farming areas.

The concentration of the aged varies depending on the level of the geographic classification being used. The greater the level of disaggregation, and the smaller the population, the more extreme the values will be. At the statistical division (SD) level, the degree of variation in the proportion of the population aged 65 years and over is fairly moderate, ranging up to 17% in the oldest SD (Yorke Lower North in South Australia), six percentage points above the national average.


In smaller geographic areas, higher concentrations may be found. For example, in New South Wales the coastal areas north and south of Sydney have relatively high concentrations of people aged 65 years and over, as do the farming communities inland. The remote areas of the far west, with the exception of Broken Hill, have relatively young populations. In the Victorian city of Stawell in the Wimmera, 17% of the population were aged 65 years or more in 1991, compared to 9% in the surrounding area.


Similarly, while 11% of the total population of Queensland were aged 65 years and over, in the SD of Moreton the proportion was 14%. Within Moreton, in the statistical subdivision (SSD) of Gold Coast City, the aged represented 17% of the total population, and in the statistical local area (SLA) of Coolangatta, 26% of the population were aged 65 years and over.

CONCENTRATIONS OF AGED PEOPLE, 1991

Proportion aged 65 years & over
Statistical division
%

Yorke Lower North
SA
17.0
Wimmera
Vic.
15.4
Mid North Coast
NSW
15.2
Richmond -Tweed
NSW
14.8
Moreton
Qld
13.8


Source: Estimated Resident Population
CONCENTRATIONS OF AGED PEOPLE, 1991



Statistical local areas in which more than 13% of the population were aged 65 years and over.
Source: Estimated Resident Population


Growth and ageing


In the five years to 1991, Australia's total population grew by 8% while the aged population grew by 16%. Some of the most rapid increases in the number of aged people have occurred in resort/retirement areas, particularly along the New South Wales coast north and south of Sydney, along the Murray River from west of Albury-Wodonga to Swan Hill (Victoria), in the south west of Western Australia, and in South Australia around the Fleurieu Peninsular and the lower Murray River area. There have also been large increases in rural areas in all States.

Some areas which already have high concentrations of aged people are continuing to age rapidly, not because of particularly high growth in the aged population, but because of slow, or even negative growth in the population aged under 65 years. For example, between 1986 and 1991, the number of people aged under 65 years in the Wimmera (Victoria) declined by 3% (including a decline of 15% among 15-24 year olds) while the number of people aged 65 years and over increased by 10%, well below the national average, but high enough to cause significant ageing of the area.


In other areas, rapid ageing is occurring due to growth in the aged population exceeding growth in the younger age groups. In the Mid North Coast of New South Wales the aged population grew by 28%, while the rest of the population grew by only 15%.


Still other areas with relatively large and rapidly growing aged populations are not ageing as fast because strong growth in the aged population is matched by similar growth in younger age groups. For example, in Moreton (Queensland) the number of aged people increased by 33% between 1986 and 1991. However, the number of people under 65 years increased by 30% so the proportion of the population who were aged increased only marginally.

GROWTH OF THE AGED POPULATION, 1986-1991

                          Statistical local areas in which:
                        • the proportion of the population aged 65 years and over was greater than the national average (11.3%) in 1991; and
                        • the number of people aged 65 years and over grew by more than the national average (16%) in the period 1986-91.
Source: Estimated Resident Population


Ageing and interstate migration


Mobility rates for people aged 65 years and over are much lower than for younger age groups, and those aged people who do move are much less likely to move interstate.

Nevertheless, interstate migration is an important factor in the growth of the aged population, especially in Queensland. Between 1986 and 1991 Queensland had a net gain of 10,000 people aged 65 years and over, mainly from New South Wales and Victoria, accounting for 20% of the growth in its aged population. There were also large net gains in the younger age groups resulting in Queensland ageing at a slower rate than the national average, despite the large influx of aged people.


While the largest group of movers to Queensland were the 25-34 year olds, representing a quarter of all movers to Queensland, a large number of 25-34 year olds also moved away from Queensland. The largest net gain was among 35-44 year olds. It is older people however, who display the strongest preference for Queensland. Three times as many 55-74 year olds moved to Queensland as away from it in 1986-91. Western Australia also experienced significant net interstate migration gain between 1986 and 1991. However, it was concentrated in the younger age groups.

INTERSTATE MIGRATION, QUEENSLAND, 1986-1991

Movers to
Movers from
Net gain
Movers to per mover from
Age group (years)
'000
'000
'000
no.

15-24
43.9
26.4
17.5
1.7
25-34
55.2
35.8
19.4
1.5
35-44
45.6
19.5
26.2
2.3
45-54
24.3
8.6
15.7
2.8
55-64
17.1
5.1
12.0
3.4
65-74
11.0
3.8
7.3
2.9
75-84
3.8
1.7
2.2
2.3
85 & over
0.8
0.4
0.4
2.2
Total
201.7
101.1
100.7
2.0


Source: Census of Population and Housing
NET INTERSTATE MIGRATION 1986-1991, SELECTED STATES


Source: Census of Population and Housing
Major magnet areas

The term major magnet area refers to a statistical division (SD) in which the aged represented a higher proportion of the population than the national average of 11.3% in 1991, and in which over 40% of the growth in the aged population was due to net internal migration. Only four SDs met these criteria in 1991.

Major magnet areas also attract large numbers of visitors of all ages but they are excluded from this review, which is based on people's place of usual residence.



Major magnet areas


While interstate migration contributes to rapid growth of the aged population in some areas, particularly in Queensland, much of the increase in coastal areas is due to net movement of the aged from the capital cities and inland areas in the same State. The combined effect of interstate and intrastate movement has been strongest in the major magnet areas of Richmond-Tweed and the Mid North Coast in New South Wales, and Moreton and Wide Bay-Burnett in Queensland. Between 1986 and 1991 net movement into these areas accounted for 15,400 (44%) of the 35,400 increase in the aged population. 10% of the aged in these areas had moved there between 1986 and 1991.

While the major magnet areas attracted relatively large numbers of aged people, they also attracted large numbers of younger people, so the areas are not ageing as rapidly as some other areas. However, while net movement to the major magnet areas was highest among those aged 35-54 years, the strongest preference was shown by those aged 55-74 years. In this age group, twice as many moved to the major magnet areas as away from them, indicating the attraction of these areas for people in pre-retirement and retirement.

POPULATION GROWTH IN MAJOR MAGNET AREAS

1991 population
Growth in the population, 1986-91
Net migration as a proportion of growth



Total
Aged 65 & over
Aged 65 & over
Aged 0-64 years
Aged 65 & over
Aged 0-64 years
Statistical division
'000
%
%
%
%
%

Richmond-TweedNSW
179.5
14.8
29.5
16.4
44.8
60.6
MoretonQld
489.6
13.8
33.5
29.9
44.6
75.9
Wide Bay-BurnettQld
195.5
13.3
19.9
13.7
44.1
60.6
Mid North CoastNSW
240.9
15.2
28.4
14.5
40.2
56.9
Total
1,105.5
14.2
29.2
21.0
43.6
69.0


Source: Census of Population and Housing; Estimated Resident Population
MOVEMENT TO AND FROM MAJOR MAGNET AREAS, 1986-1991

Movers to
Movers from
Net gain
Movers to per mover from
Age group (years)
'000
'000
'000
no.

15-34
186.3
162.4
23.8
1.1
35-54
141.5
97.9
43.6
1.4
55-64
45.9
25.1
20.8
1.8
65-74
32.5
20.4
12.1
1.6
75-84
12.8
10.0
2.8
1.3
85 & over
3.5
2.9
0.6
1.2
Total
422.5
318.8
103.7
1.3


Source: Census of Population and Housing


Characteristics of movers


The tendency for couples to move to major magnet areas soon after, or even before, retirement is reflected in the lower than average proportion of widowed people, the equal proportions of men and women and the high proportion of 65-74 year olds moving to these areas.

However, widowed people (mainly women) were more likely to move away from the major magnet areas than to them. This may be associated with return movement following the death of a spouse, to support services such as family members and health institutions. The 1992 Survey of Families in Australia found that 22% of movers aged 65 years and over, and 39% of widowed movers aged 65 years and over, moved to be near family.


Aged people were less likely to move, particularly to or from the major magnet areas, if they were in the labour force than if they were retired.

SELECTED CHARACTERISTICS OF AGED PEOPLE(a), 1986-1991

Widowed
Female
Income over $20,000
In the labour force
Mobility status
%
%
%
%

Moved to magnet areas
24.4
50.1
9.1
3.5
Moved from magnet areas
32.4
55.6
7.9
3.3
All movers
38.0
59.6
8.9
4.6
Non-movers
30.0
56.1
10.5
6.5
All aged people
32.0
57.1
9.8
6.3


(a) Proportion of each mobility status group with the characteristic.

Source: Census of Population and Housing



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