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Currently, the two main features of Australia's population are low fertility rates and the ageing of the population. Since 1990, the total fertility rate has fallen steadily and is now at the lowest level ever recorded (1.75 babies per woman in 2000). Falling fertility and increasing longevity are the main causes of the ageing of the population. The median age of the population has increased by 6.1 years in the last 20 years, from 29.6 years in 1981 to 35.7 years in 2001. Based on certain assumptions about fertility, mortality and migration (series II of the projections), the median age of the population is projected to increase to 38.5 by 2011. At June 2001 the number of persons aged 65 years or more was just over 2.4 million, or 12.5% of the total population. This is projected to increase to 3.0 million (14.3% of the total population) in the year 2011. The proportion of children aged 0-14 years is projected to decrease from 20.5% of the total population at June 2001 to 17.7% in the year 2011.
Population by age and sex, Australia, 2001 and 2011
Demographic data assist researchers and policy makers in studying the characteristics of the population and in understanding how these characteristics have changed over time.
The total fertility rate is the sum of age-specific fertility rates (live births at each age of mother per female population of that age). It represents the number of children a female would bear during her lifetime if she experiences current age-specific fertility rates at each age of her reproductive life.
Life expectancy refers to the average number of additional years a person of a given age and sex might expect to live if the age-specific death rates of the given period continued throughout his/her lifetime. Life expectancy is often used to indicate changes in the health status of a community or to make comparisons between communities.
The infant mortality rate measures the number of deaths of children under one year of age in a calendar year per 1,000 live births in the same calendar year, and is also a key indicator of the health of a community.
The ABS also produces population projections for Australia, for each state and territory and for capital cities/balance of states based on a range of specified assumptions.