Australian Bureau of Statistics
1307.6 - Tasmanian State and Regional Indicators, Mar 2008
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/04/2008
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AGEING IN TASMANIA, 2006 (selected indicators)
Unpaid Work and Care
Australia has an ageing population. Tasmania's population has the oldest age structure of all the states and territories of Australia, and is ageing at a faster rate. The main drivers behind the ageing population trend in Tasmania and Australia are declining fertility rates and increased life expectancy. Net interstate migration has also contributed to Tasmania's ageing population trend. As well, Tasmania's population is ageing both numerically (an increase in the number of people aged 65 years and over in a population) and structurally (an increase in the proportion of a population aged 65 years and over).
In June 2007, Australia's population reached 21 million. However, the general trend in fertility points to fewer Australians being born. One of the main factors behind the sustained low fertility rate is the age at which females first give birth. With access to effective contraception, legalised abortion, and increased opportunities to pursue higher education, forge a career path and establish financial independence, women now have greater choice than ever before about whether/when to have children.
In 2006, the median age of mothers (all confinements) in Tasmania was 29.3 years (30.8 years Australia) compared with 28.3 years in 1996 (29.2 years Australia). Delayed child-bearing creates its own natural limits on family size and increases the likelihood of childlessness. Not only are women having fewer children, but over time, the number of women of child-bearing age in the population is decreasing. These factors contribute to declining fertility.
A decrease in fertility leads to a smaller proportion of a population in younger age groups and a greater proportion of a population in older age groups, while increased life expectancy increases the number of older persons in a population. Issues associated with an increased proportion of older persons will have a significant impact on the social and economic future of Tasmania.
Over the last 10 years, as populations of both Tasmania and Australia have aged, so the proportion of children has decreased. Children (aged 0-14 years) accounted for 19.7% of the Tasmanian population at the 2006 Census (19.8% Australia), compared with 22.5% in 1996 (21.6% Australia). In 2006, females in Tasmania had given birth to an average of 1.9 children. However, females in Tasmania aged 65 years and over had given birth to an average of 3.0 children (2.8 Australia).
Conversely, both the number and proportion of older persons in Tasmania have increased, reinforcing the fact that Tasmania is ageing both numerically and structurally. The proportion of the Tasmanian population aged 65 years and over increased from 12.8% in 1996 (12.1% Australia) to 14.9% in 2006 (13.3% Australia). The proportion of persons aged 85 years and over increased from 1.2% in 1996 to 1.8% in 2006.
Population ageing has been identified as an area of statistical priority for the State. This article describes the characteristics of Tasmania's ageing population in 2006, based on Census data, with particular regard to living arrangements, need for assistance, and unpaid work and care. Care should be exercised when comparing Census data in this article with information from other data sources, such as sample surveys, due to differences in collection methodologies.
Population of Tasmania
Conversely, the largest increase in numbers over the same period occurred in the 55-59 years age group. This age group grew by 10,852, an increase of 49.7%. This was partly due to the 'Baby Boomer' cohort progressing into the older end of the working age population. It can also, in part, be attributed to interstate migration, as Tasmania continued to attract older people to take up the relaxed lifestyle of Australia's clean, green state. The combined effect of younger Tasmanians leaving the state and older people migrating from interstate has resulted in the population ageing at a faster rate than anywhere else in the country.
The number of persons aged 65-84 years increased by 8,460 (15.6%), from 54,145 in 1996 to 62,605 in 2006. The number of males aged 65-84 years increased from 24,143 in 1996 to 29,076 in 2006, an increase of 20.4%. The number of females aged 65-84 years increased from 30,002 in 1996 to 33,529 in 2006, an increase of 11.8%. While females continued to dominate this age group, the proportion of males increased from 44.6% in 1996 to 46.4% in 2006.
The number of persons aged 85 years and over also increased markedly (59.6%), from 5,350 persons in 1996 to 8,536 in 2006. The number of males aged 85 years and over increased from 1,597 in 1996 to 2,686 in 2006, an increase of 68.2%. The number of females aged 85 years and over increased from 3,753 in 1996 to 5,850 in 2006, an increase of 55.9%. While females also continued to dominate this age group, the proportion of males increased slightly, from 29.9% in 1996 to 31.5% in 2006.
The following population pyramid highlights the changes in the Tasmanian age structure between 1996 and 2006:
Source: Census of population and Housing, 1996, 2006
ABS data available on request
Of Tasmania's 29 Local Government Areas (LGAs), more than half (16) had a higher proportion of persons aged 65 years and over than the State average of 14.9%. Glamorgan/Spring Bay (19.8%) had the highest proportion of the population aged 65 years and over, followed by Break O'Day (17.9%), Devonport (17.6%), Dorset (17.4%) and Central Coast (17.2%). Brighton (7.3%) had the lowest, followed by West Coast (11.2%) and Southern Midlands (11.6%).
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in Tasmania has a younger age structure than the general population. Among Indigenous people in Tasmania:
Lack of proficiency in spoken English has the potential to affect a person's ability to access appropriate facilities and services. In particular, it may be a barrier to accessing health and care services. It may also limit opportunities for social interaction. As ageing occurs, older persons may lose proficiency in English and revert to their first language. This may impose added complexity to the care of older persons whose first language is other than English. It may be that specific language and cultural skills are required to care for this population group.
In 2006, Tasmania recorded 50,543 usual residents who had been born overseas (4,416,037 Australia). This represented 10.6% of the Tasmanian population (22.2% Australia). Tasmania had the lowest proportion of persons born overseas of any state or territory.
Of persons usually resident in Tasmania:
Only a small proportion of older persons in Tasmania had low proficiency in spoken English. Of persons aged 65 years and over, 89.1% spoke only English at home (77.2% Australia), 4.1% whose first language was other than English spoke English either very well or well (10.1% Australia), and 0.7% whose first language was other than English spoke English either not very well or not at all (6.2% Australia). Not stated accounted for 6.2% (6.5% Australia).
Hobart (2.3%) had the highest proportion of older persons, aged 65 years and over, who were not proficient in spoken English, followed by Brighton (1.5%) and Glenorchy (1.4%).
Living Arrangements for Persons aged 65 years and over
Living arrangements reflect the changes in circumstances that often accompany the ageing process, such as the loss of a partner, the availability or lack of carers, a decline in health and a possible increase in disability.
Of the 71,141 persons aged 65 years and over usually resident in Tasmania on Census night in 2006, 91.9% lived in private dwellings, and the remaining 8.1% lived in non-private dwellings.
More than half (53.8%) of persons aged 65 years and over living in a private dwelling lived with their partner, while 6.5% lived with one or more relatives other than their partner. A further 29.8% lived alone.
Of persons aged 65 years and over living in a non-private dwelling, 86.0% lived in cared accommodation. Of these, 57.8% lived in nursing homes, 16.8% lived in accommodation for the retired or aged (not self-contained), and 11.3% lived in hospitals.
In 2006, the proportion of older persons living in private dwellings with their partner decreased from 62.1% of those aged 65-69 years to 19.3% of those aged 85 years and over. The proportion of older persons living alone increased from 19.4% of persons aged 65-69 years to 36.7% of those aged 85 years and over. Older persons living with a relative other than their partner increased from 4.2% of those aged 65-69 years to 9.5% of persons aged 85 years and over.
Of Tasmania's LGAs, West Coast (35.7%) had the highest proportion of persons aged 65 years and over living alone, followed by Glenorchy (31.1%) and Launceston (30.3%). King Island (18.8%) had the lowest proportion of older people living alone, followed by Brighton (20.3%) and Kentish (20.7%).
On Census night 2006, 6.9% of Tasmanians aged 65 years and over were living in cared accommodation such as nursing homes, hospitals and accommodation for the retired or aged (not self-contained). Hobart and Brighton (both 10.4%) had the highest proportion of persons aged 65 years and over living in cared accommodation, followed by King Island (9.6%), Launceston (9.0%) and Devonport (7.5%). Central Highlands and Northern Midlands (both 3.4%) had the lowest, followed by Southern Midlands and Latrobe (both 3.5%) and West Coast (4.1%).
Of those persons aged 65 years and over living in cared accommodation, 49.5% were aged 65-84 years and 50.5% were aged 85 years and over.
Of those persons aged 65-84 years, 3.9% lived in cared accommodation. Hobart (6.1%) had the highest proportion of persons living in cared accommodation, followed by King Island (5.5%), Launceston (5.2%), George Town (5.1%) and Brighton (4.6%). Glamorgan/Spring Bay (1.5%) had the lowest, followed by Tasman (1.7%), Huon Valley (2.0%), Northern Midlands and West Coast (both 2.1%).
Almost one-third (29.2%) of persons aged 85 years and over lived in cared accommodation. Brighton (56.0%) had the highest proportion, followed by King Island (39.4%), Tasman (34.4%), Kentish (33.9%) and Hobart (32.4%). Southern Midlands (13.8%) had the lowest, followed by Northern Midlands (16.7%) and Latrobe (17.2%).
More people are surviving to older ages. The likelihood of disability and the severity of disability both increase with age. Many old people have a need for assistance due to frailty and illness. For many Tasmanians, increased life expectancy will mean they are likely to be living with a disability for longer.
Questions on 'Core Activity Need for Assistance' were asked for the first time in the 2006 Census. The new topic identified people who needed assistance with one or more of the three core activities (self-care, mobility and/or communication), some or all of the time, due to disability, a long-term health condition (lasting six months or more) or old age. The 'Core Activity Need for Assistance' concept is relatable to the profound/severe core activity limitation category in other surveys, and as such, represents the more severe end of the disability spectrum.
The 2006 Census revealed that 23,655 Tasmanians (5.2% of the population) required daily assistance with self-care, mobility or communication because of a long-term health condition, disability or old age (4.4% Australia). A need for assistance was reported by 5.6% of all females and 4.9% of all males. Tasmania had the highest proportion of need for assistance of all the states and territories in Australia, followed by South Australia (5.1%). This higher than average result reflects the older population profile of these two states. (It is important to note that 5.3% of Tasmanians did not state whether or not they needed assistance and have therefore been excluded from the population when calculating rates.)
Of all people reporting a need for assistance with core activities:
Of females aged 65-84 years with a core activity need for assistance, 29.6% lived with a partner, 27.9% lived alone, 23.8% lived in cared accommodation and 13.4% lived with other relatives. Of females aged 85 years and over with a core activity need for assistance, half (50.5%) lived in cared accommodation, 26.0% lived alone, 15.0% lived with other relatives and 5.5% lived with a partner.
Of Tasmania's 29 LGAs, 13 had a higher proportion of all persons needing assistance than the State average of 5.2%. Break O'Day (7.9%) had the highest proportion, followed by Tasman (7.4%), Glenorchy and Waratah/Wynyard (both 6.4%) and Devonport (6.2%).
Unpaid work makes a valuable contribution to Australian society. Questions on unpaid work were asked for the first time in the 2006 Census. The new topic included provision of unpaid assistance to a person with a disability, long term illness or problems related to old age; provision of unpaid child care; unpaid domestic work; and voluntary work for an organisation or group. It is important to note there is not necessarily a direct correspondence between persons with a need for assistance and people that provided unpaid assistance. People who provided unpaid care may have provided care to people not identified by the Census as having a need for assistance, and vice versa.
Unpaid Assistance to a Person with a Disability
The likelihood of becoming a carer increases with age, with caring responsibilities for children, ageing parents and partners. Many people now face a dual caring role: looking after ageing parents as well as children. However, a combination of low fertility, delayed child-bearing and young Tasmanians leaving the State has resulted in a diminished resource pool of potential workers and carers. Hence, there is a growing trend towards community care and "ageing in place", where residents can remain in their own home with appropriate support. Relatives and friends provide a major part of the assistance needed, while government, commercial and private non-profit sources provide additional support.
In the two weeks prior to Census night 2006, 11.8% of people aged 15 years and over usually resident in Tasmania spent time providing unpaid assistance to family members or others because of a disability, a long-term illness or problems relating to old age. Just over one-quarter of these carers (26.1%) were aged 45-54 years, followed by persons aged 55-64 years (23.1%), persons aged 39-44 years (18.1%) and persons aged 65 years and over (15.5%). The proportion of persons providing unpaid assistance decreased markedly from 65 years onwards, as people became more likely to require assistance themselves or recipients died.
The majority of unpaid caregivers were female, providing 61.8% of all unpaid assistance by those aged 15 years and over. Females were the main providers of unpaid care in all age groups under 85 years of age. Females aged 45-54 years provided the highest proportion of unpaid care (16.7%), followed by females aged 55-64 years (14.4%) and females aged 35-44 years (11.6%). Males and females aged 85 years and over provided the least amount of unpaid care (both 0.4%).
Unpaid Child Care
Child care is a major issue in today's society. Families may use formal child care or informal child care, or a combination of both, to help them care for their children. Many older persons are taking on the role of caring for children without pay. It is likely that many of these situations involve grandparents caring for their grandchildren.
In the two weeks prior to Census night 2006, 30.4% of Tasmanians aged 15 years and over spent time performing unpaid care for children aged under 15 years. Of these, 68.7% cared for their own children, 27.1% cared for other children, and 4.1% cared for both their own and other children. Of those caring for other children, persons aged 45-54 years accounted for 20.0%. Persons aged 55 years and over accounted for 47.0%, persons aged 55-64 years accounted for 29.5%, while persons aged 65 years and over accounted for 17.5%.
Questions on voluntary work were asked for the first time in the 2006 Census. The new topic included help willingly given in the form of time, service or skills, to a club, organisation or association, such as:
The age profile of Tasmanian volunteers was as follows:
In Tasmania, almost one-quarter (23.7%) of all females and 15.6% of all males aged 15 years and over had participated in unpaid voluntary work. Tasmania had the third highest participation rate in the country, after the Australian Capital Territory (23.9%) and South Australia (22.1%).
Australian Social Trends, 2007 (cat. no. 4102.0)
Births, Australia, 2006 (cat. no. 3301.0)
Census of Population and Housing
2006 Census of Population and Housing - Fact Sheets, 2006, Measures of Unpaid Work (cat. no. 2914.0)
Deaths, Australia, 2006 (cat. no. 3302.0)
Census Dictionary, 2006 (cat. no. 2901.0)
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This page last updated 30 July 2008