Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1995  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/06/1995   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Population >> Population Projections: Projections of the working age population

Population Projections: Projections of the working age population

From now until 2011 working age people will continue to represent around 67% of the population. After 2011 their representation is projected to decline.

The size and share of Australia's future working age population is of interest for two reasons. It is a major determinant of the size of the future labour force and it is also the group which has prime responsibility for supporting children and older people. Researchers have drawn attention to the lack of concern being expressed about the rapidly increasing number of people in the working age groups over the next 20 years. This contrasts with the concern expressed about the increase in the numbers of elderly people which will take place 20 to 40 years ahead.1

POPULATION STRUCTURE, 1993 AND PROJECTED STRUCTURE, 2041

1993

2041


Source: Population Projections, 1993-2041: Series A; Estimated Resident Population



Population growth
A
ustralia's population is expected to grow by 41% between 1993 and 2041 and to age rapidly. In the year 2024, it is projected that the number of older people (aged 65 and over) in the population will exceed the number of children (aged 0-14) for the first time. By 2041, there are projected to be 5.5 million older people (22% of the population) and 4.3 million children (17% of the population). The proportion of the population which is of working age (15-64 ) is projected to remain stable at around 67% until 2011 and then to decline to 61% by 2041.

In the period to 2011, the total population is projected to grow by 19%. The largest percentage growth (55%) is projected among those aged 45-64. The lowest growth (2%) is projected among those aged 15-24. In the following 30 years, the 65 years and over age group will grow at the fastest rate and the 15-24 years group will continue to grow at the slowest rate.

PROJECTED GROWTH OF THE POPULATION

1993
2011
2041
Increase 1993-2011
Increase 1993-2041
Age group (years)
'000
'000
'000
%
%

0-14
3,831.1
4,040.9
4,304.3
5.5
12.4
15-24
2,746.1
2,793.2
2,971.2
1.7
8.2
25-44
5,491.9
5,762.1
6,150.9
4.9
12.0
45-64
3,531.4
5,467.0
5,954.4
54.8
68.6
65 and over
2,066.0
2,889.3
5,477.6
40.2
165.8
Total
17,661.5
20,952.4
24,858.4
18.6
40.7


Source: Population Projections, 1993-2041: Series A; Estimated Resident Population


Working age population

The working age population can be divided into three groups: youth (15-24 years), prime working age (25-44 years) and older working age (45-64 years). The proportions of the working age population in the youth and prime working age groups are projected to decrease over the next 50 years. By 2041, these groups will represent 20% and 41% of the working age population respectively. The proportion of working age people in the 45-64 years age group is projected to increase from 30% in 1993 to 39% in 2041. The age structure of the working age population will therefore be considerably different in 50 years time and Australia will have an older labour force (see
Projections of the labour force).

People of working age often have family responsibilities, especially for children and ageing parents. Between 1993 and 2041 the proportion of older people is projected to increase from 12% to 22% while the proportion of children is projected to decrease from 22% to 17%. Children are financially, socially and physically dependent on their parents although the extent of dependency decreases with age. However, they are increasingly remaining in dependent situations beyond the age of 15 (see
Australian Social Trends 1994, Living with parents). Conversely, older people are not always financially dependent. However, the working population pays taxes which fund pensions and other government benefits for many of the aged. The aged may become more socially and financially dependent as they get older, especially if they become frail, disabled or suffer ill health.

Projected changes in the size of the working age population relative to the young (aged 0-14) and old (aged 65 and over) indicate the changing demands that may be placed on society in the future. The relative size of the older population is projected to increase steadily from 18 for every 100 of working age in 1993 to 21 in 2011, then more rapidly to 36 in 2041. During this period the relative size of the child population is projected to decline from 33 for every 100 of working age in 1991 to 29 in 2011, and remain around 29 until 2041.


The slow growth of the child population implies a relative decrease in government outlays on children's services. However, this will only partly offset the likely increase in outlays associated with ageing, particularly on health services and income support, which are much higher than the outlays associated with children
2
PROJECTIONS OF WORKING AGE PEOPLE



Source: Population Projections, 1993-2041: Series A; Estimated Resident Population

PROJECTED GROWTH OF THE WORKING AGE POPULATION

1993
2041
Increase 1993-2041
State
'000
'000
%

New South Wales
3,983.9
4,787.4
20.2
Victoria
2,986.5
3,164.1
5.9
Queensland
2,072.8
3,594.7
73.4
South Australia
966.0
965.4
-0.1
Western Australia
1,125.7
1,714.1
52.3
Tasmania
306.5
315.5
2.9
Northern Territory
116.4
190.2
63.4
Australian Capital Territory
211.6
345.1
63.1
Australia
11,769.4
15,076.5
28.1


Source: Population Projections, 1993- 2041: Series A; Estimated Resident Population


State projections

Over the period 1993-2041, the projected increases in the numbers of people of working age are expected to vary between the states and territories, depending on the age structures of their populations and the projected levels of fertility, mortality and net migration. Queensland is expected to experience the greatest proportional increase in the working age population (73%), followed by the Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory (both 63%) and Western Australia (52%). South Australia is projected to experience a slight decrease in the number of people of working age.


Alternate net overseas migration level

The level of net overseas migration gain assumed for projection series A rises from 40,000 in 1993-94 to 70,000 in 1999-2000 and then remains constant. An alternate scenario is provided by series D in which net overseas migration gain is assumed to rise to 100,000 in 2000-01 and then remain constant. The impact of this alternative is that the population increases by 51% by 2041 to reach 26.7 million, 1.8 million more than under the series A assumption. However, the projected age distribution in 2041 does not change significantly.


International comparison
The proportion of people in the working age populations are projected to decrease in most of the selected countries. China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam are exceptions. In 1995, the proportions range from 57.5% in Papua New Guinea to 71.3% in the Republic of Korea. By 2025 the proportions are projected to range from 60.5% in Japan to 68.5% in Viet Nam.
PROJECTIONS OF THE WORKING AGE POPULATION

1995
2025
Country
%
%

Australia
66.8
64.4
Canada
67.3
63.4
China
66.4
68.4
France
65.3
62.1
Greece
67.2
62.2
Hong Kong
70.8
62.9
Indonesia
62.2
68.3
Italy
69.0
63.3
Japan
69.2
60.5
Korea (Republic of)
71.3
68.0
Malaysia
58.2
68.3
New Zealand
65.7
64.7
Papua New Guinea
57.5
65.8
Singapore
70.9
63.8
Sweden
63.8
62.0
United Kingdom
64.7
63.6
United States
65.5
63.7
Viet Nam
58.1
68.5

Source: United Nations (1993) World Population Prospects 1992


Endnotes


1 Young, C.
(1993) Population projections for Australia, What can they tell us? People and Place Vol.1 No.1.

2 Household Expenditure Survey, Australia: the Effects of Government Benefits and Taxes on Household Income (cat. no. 6537.0).



Previous PageNext Page

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window


Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.