Australian Bureau of Statistics
4914.0.55.001 - Age Matters, May 2009
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/05/2009
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A Picture of the Nation: the Statistician's Report on the 2006 Census Employment Arrangements, Retirement and Superannuation Sport and Social Capital
A PICTURE OF THE NATION: THE STATISTICIAN'S REPORT ON THE 2006 CENSUS (cat. no. 2070.0)
A Picture of the Nation: the Statistician's Report on the 2006 Census takes a generational view of the population. Dividing the population into generations and looking at the different social and economic experiences they have had can help us to understand the changes that have occurred and continue to occur in Australian society. These generational experiences examined include living arrangements, marital status and relationships in households, education, employment, religion, cultural diversity and Internet access.
This article contains an excerpt from A Picture of the Nation describing some of the social and economic characteristics of the generations who were 60 years or older in 2006.
DEFINING THE GENERATIONS
In defining the generations, a number of factors have been taken into account including birth rates, significant world events and shared life experiences. Each generation covers a similar sized age group (generally 20 years) to allow more meaningful comparisons across generations. For example, Generation X and Y, while separately identified by some social commentators, have many characteristics in common and have been combined to form a 20 year birth cohort. It should be noted that there is no widespread agreement about the names and definitions of these generations. Furthermore, the names adopted in this report have been used by other commentators to refer to slightly different groups.
A Picture of the Nation identifies the Oldest Generation; the Lucky Generation; the Baby Boomers; Generation X and Y; and the internet or iGeneration.
Source: Australian Government 2007, Guide to the Teaching of Australian History in Years 9 and 10.
Born before 1927, the surviving members of this generation were aged 80 years and over in 2006 and comprised 4% of the total population. As young adults, the older members of this birth cohort may have experienced interrupted employment and family formation during the Great Depression. Many of the men would have served in the armed forces during World War II. Members of the Oldest Generation had limited formal educational opportunities: in 2006, 39% reported they left school at Year 8 or below or never attended school compared to 2% of Generation X and Y.
In 2006, 33% of the Oldest Generation were living alone, the highest proportion of all generations. A further 30% were living with their husband, wife or partner while 17% were living in nursing homes or cared accommodation for the retired or aged. Of those living alone, more than 4 in 5 were widowed. This generation reported the highest rate of religious affiliation (82%) of all the generations, with Anglican (30%) and Catholic (23%) the most commonly reported faiths.
Born between 1926 and 1946, just prior to and during the Great Depression and World War II, they are referred to as the Lucky Generation because they generally perceive that they had an easier time than their parents. They didn't live through World War I or have to make ends meet during the Depression, and as young adults they experienced full employment and prosperity during the post-World War II economic boom. This generation has also been referred to as the Austerity Generation; affected by the privations resulting from the Great Depression in their formative years, they are often regarded as a hardworking and stoic generation who seek stability and security. The Lucky Generation has been a relatively small group compared to successive generations, partly due to low birth rates during the Depression and World War II and recent deaths.
This cohort also experienced higher rates of infectious diseases (such as polio, diphtheria and rubella), cancer and heart disease during their lifetime than subsequent generations. In 2006 the Lucky Generation were aged 60–79 years and accounted for 14% of the total Australian population. By 2006 the majority had retired from employment. Nearly twice as many men (30%) as women (16%) were employed, reflecting the traditional breadwinner and homemaker roles adopted by the majority of the Lucky Generation. Two thirds of those men employed were working full-time, while the majority of the employed women were working part-time. See ‘Generations of employment’, p.159–166, for a detailed analysis of the labour force experiences of each generation over time.
In 2006, the Lucky Generation had the highest proportion of members born overseas (36% compared with 31%–32% for both the Oldest Generation and the Baby Boomers and 24% for Generation X and Y). Contributing to the high proportion of overseas-born in this generation was the post World War II influx of European migrants in the 1950s and 1960s: 12% of this generation were born in the UK or Ireland and a further 11% in Southern and Eastern Europe (including 4% who were Italian-born).
A more detailed look at Australia older generations, on topics as diverse as employment, religion, education and living arrangements, can be found in A Picture of the Nation: the Statistician's Report on the 2006 Census, 2006 (cat. no. 2070.0).
EMPLOYMENT ARRANGEMENTS, RETIREMENT AND SUPERANNUATION, AUSTRALIA, APR TO JUL 2007 (cat.no. 6361.0)
This publication presents new statistics, compiled from the 2007 Survey of Employment Arrangements, Retirement and Superannuation (SEARS 2007), about the diversity of employment arrangements in Australia; people's use of working arrangements to balance work and caring responsibilities; retirement plans and expectations; selected characteristics of retired people; and the superannuation coverage of individuals including superannuation contributions and account balances. Selected comparisons between the SEARS 2007 results and the results from the 2000 Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation (SEAS 2000) are also presented.
Most Australians spend a substantial part of their lives in the workforce. Changes in the labour market and the employment conditions that people experience have the potential to affect many people, and also help shape our economy and society. There is ongoing interest in the different types of employment, and the characteristics and quality of these types of employment. Increasingly, there is interest in how people balance their work and caring responsibilities, particularly the working arrangements that they are using, or would like to use, to help them manage this balance.
Some of the discussion about the implications of the ageing population on Australian society and the economy of the future has focused on people's ability to support themselves in retirement, in particular through superannuation. There are also issues around a potential diminishing labour force, as the ageing population retires from work. One response may be for older workers to remain in the labour force longer than has traditionally been the case. Information about the plans that people have for retirement, about people who have already retired, and about people who have previously retired and returned to work, provides insights into the timing and extent of older workers exiting the labour market, as well as reasons why people retire from the labour force and what might attract them back.
Age and sex
In this section of the article, 'employees' exclude owner managers of incorporated business, and 'employed' people exclude contributing family workers.
Employees with paid leave entitlements represented the largest single employment type in all age groups, except those aged 65 years and over. Of employed people aged 25-34 years, 70% had paid leave entitlements. The proportion of employed people with paid leave declined for older age groups, in part reflecting the higher proportions of people working in their own business, (with 30% of employed people aged 55-64 years working in their own business, rising to 56% for employed people aged 65-74 years).
The largest age group of employees without paid leave entitlements were people aged 15-24 years (40%). Of all employed people in this age group, almost equal proportions were employees with and without paid leave entitlements (49% and 48% respectively).
Employed women were more likely than employed men to be working as employees without paid leave entitlements: 25% of employed women compared with 16% of employed men.
EMPLOYED PERSONS(a), EMPLOYMENT TYPE
WORK AND FAMILY BALANCE
Provision of care
In Australia, 6.3 million carers, or 38% of people aged 15 years and over, provided care to another adult or a child aged under 15 years (including care provided to their own children) in the week prior to the survey interview. 1.8 million of these carers lived in households without children under 15 years of age.
People aged 35-44 years were much more likely to provide care (72%) than people in other age ranges, followed by people aged 25-34 years (48% provided care). 12% of people aged 75 years and over, and 17% of those aged 15-24 years provided care.
A higher proportion of women than men provided care (43% and 34% respectively). This pattern is reflected for all age ranges except the 45-54 year age range, where a similar proportion of men and women provided care (43% and 42% respectively).
ALL PERSONS WHO PROVIDED CARE
RETIREMENT AND RETIREMENT INTENTIONS
There were 3.1 million people aged 45 years and over who were retired from the labour force, comprising 1.3 million men and 1.8 million women. Half of all retired people were aged 70 years and over (54% of retired men and 49% of retired women).
Age at retirement
It is important to note that age at retirement as presented in this publication only refers to 'surviving' retirees aged 45 years or over in 2007. Therefore, the distribution of age at retirement in this population is not representative of the age at which all people retire. For example, based on Australian life expectancy, a person who retired aged 40 years in 1982 (aged 65 years in 2007) would more likely be alive to participate in this survey than a person who retired aged 65 years in 1982 (who would be aged 90 years if still alive in 2007). The effect will be more pronounced for estimates presented in relation to people who retired a long time ago, but will have some effect on all estimates, particularly as 38% of the retired population included in this publication retired more than 20 years ago.
The average age at retirement for people aged 45 years and over was 52 years (58 years for men and 47 years for women). 28% of retired men in 2007 had retired before the age of 55 years, while 60% of retired women had retired before the age of 55 years. Half of retired men in 2007 had retired aged 55-64 years.
PERSONS RETIRED FROM THE LABOUR FORCE, AGE AT RETIREMENT (YEARS)
Of the 3.9 million employed people aged 45 years and over, 85% intend to eventually retire from the labour force; the remainder do not intend to retire.
Of the people who intend to retire, 71% were employed full-time. Of these, 32% intend to continue with full-time work until retiring from the labour force, 48% intend to retire from full-time work and work part-time before retiring from the labour force, and the remainder did not know whether they intend to take up part-time work before retirement. The transition plans of full-time employed men and women who intend to retire were similar, with 33% of men and 29% of women intending to continue with full-time work before retiring, and 47% of men and 51% of women intending to work part-time before they retire.
Plans to phase in retirement
Of the 748,000 people who intend to continue with full time work until they retire, 69% planned to remain with their current employer with no further plans to phase in retirement. A further 18% planned to remain with their current employer but with less demanding duties. The average ages at which people planned to implement these changes were 63 years and 58 years respectively.
There were few people who intend to change employer before retirement. About 3% of people who intend to work full-time until they retire planned to change employer with no further plans to phase in retirement. A further 3% planned to change employer and move to a completely different line of work. The average age at which people intend to introduce these changes was 53 years.
There were 1.1 million people who intend to leave full-time work and work part-time before retiring. Of these, nearly two thirds (64%) planned to change to part-time work but continue with their current employer. The average age at which they intend to make this transition was 60 years. A further 12% intend to work part-time, change employer and change to a completely different line of work, and 5% intend to change employer and work part-time with no other plans to phase in retirement. The average age at which people intend to implement these transitions to retirement was 59 years.
Age intends to retire
Of all employed people who intend to retire:
In this article, a person is regarded as having superannuation coverage if they:
In 2007, 66% of people aged 15 years and over had accounts in the accumulation phase, 7% of people were currently drawing on superannuation (including 2.5% who also had accounts in the accumulation phase), and 29% had no superannuation coverage. 76% of men were covered by superannuation compared to 66% of women.
Corresponding with the introduction of the compulsory superannuation guarantee in 1992, a higher proportion of people aged 25-54 years had superannuation coverage (87%) than people aged 55 years and over (50%). Only 41% of women over 55 years of age were covered by superannuation compared to 60% of men.
The proportion of people with superannuation coverage was higher than the proportion with no coverage in all age groups, except for people aged 65 years and over. Just over half (54%) of people aged 65-69 years and 79% of people aged 70 years and over had no coverage. 24% of men and 34% of women had no superannuation coverage. The proportions of men and women aged 70 years and over without superannuation coverage were significantly higher than the average (69% and 87% respectively).
PERSONS WITH NO SUPERANNUATION COVERAGEOver half (58%) of unemployed people had some superannuation coverage, compared with 91% of employed people. The median total superannuation balance for unemployed people with superannuation accounts in the accumulation phase was $3,500, compared with $25,000 for employed people.
The Australian Capital Territory had the highest proportion of people (82%) with superannuation coverage, followed by Northern Territory (77%), while New South Wales and Tasmania had the lowest (68%). New South Wales had the highest proportion of employed people without superannuation coverage (11%). Across Australia, women were more likely than men to have no superannuation coverage.
Overall, 70% of men and 62% of women aged 15 years and over had accounts in the accumulation phase. 86% of people with accounts in the accumulation phase were employed, and 72% had wages and salaries as their principal source of personal income.
While the mean superannuation balance for all people aged 15 years and over with accounts in the accumulation phase was $71,000, the median superannuation balance was substantially lower at $24,000. This reflects that a relatively higher proportion of people with accounts in the accumulation phase have low superannuation balances. 29% of people with accounts in the accumulation phase had superannuation balances of less than $10,000.
Superannuation balances are correlated with age, reflecting the pattern of accumulation over a person's working life. 49% of people aged below 35 years of age had superannuation balances of less than $10,000, and only 1% of them had superannuation balances above $100,000. On the other hand, 38% of people aged 55 years and over had superannuation balances above $100,000.
PERSONS WITH SUPERANNUATION IN THE ACCUMULATION PHASE, TOTAL SUPERANNUATION BALANCE
Over half (57%) of people who had retired had never received a lump sum payment or pension/annuity from superannuation. 20% of retired people had received a lump sum payment only, and another 11% had received a lump sum payment as well as a superannuation pension/annuity.
A significant proportion of retired people who had received lump sum payments in the last 4 years had used it to purchase or pay off a home or make home improvements (22%), or had invested the money elsewhere (20%).
Less than a quarter (23%) of retired people had received or were currently receiving a superannuation pension or annuity. The proportion of retired women who had received or were currently receiving a superannuation pension or annuity was half that of men (16% of women compared with 32% of men).
Around 60% of retired people received gross personal weekly income from all sources of less than $300 per week. However, nearly two thirds (62%) of those who had received or were currently receiving income from a superannuation pension or annuity received income in the range of $1-$799 per week.
Drawing on superannuation
Only 7% of people aged 15 years and over were currently drawing from their superannuation. Of those drawing from superannuation, 82% were aged 55 years and over. A higher proportion of men (59%) were drawing from superannuation compared with women (41%). 28% of those drawing from superannuation were currently employed.
Just over half (54%) of those drawing from superannuation received gross personal weekly income from all sources of less than $600. 31% of those drawing from superannuation reported their principal source of personal income as income from a superannuation pension or annuity, and another 29% reported government pensions and allowances as their principal source of personal income.
Further details can be found in Employment Arrangements, Retirement and Superannuation, Australia, Apr to Jul 2007 (cat. no. 6361.0).
SPORT AND SOCIAL CAPITAL, AUSTRALIA, 2006 (cat. no. 4917.0)
This publication presents statistics on social wellbeing and participation in sport and physical recreation, compiled from the 2006 General Social Survey (GSS). Participation in sport and physical recreation includes those people that physically undertook sport or physical recreation as well as those involved in non-playing roles such as coaches, officials, umpires and administrators in the 12 months prior to interview.
WHO PARTICIPATES IN SPORT ?
Participation rates varied between males and females and between age groups. Male participation was slightly higher than female participation. Of Australia's 7.6 million males aged 18 years and over, 4.8 million participated in sport or physical recreation, representing a participation rate of 64%. In comparison, the female participation rate was 61%, with 4.7 million of the 7.8 million Australian females partaking in sport or physical recreation.
Participation rates showed a general decline for both males and females among older age groups. Among young adults, aged 18 to 24 years, 71% participated in sport or physical recreation. In contrast, the participation rate among older Australians, aged 65 and over, was much lower at 46%. The sharpest drop in participation occurred between the age groups of 55 to 64 years and 65 years and over, with the rate dropping by 13 percentage points.
PARTICIPATION IN SPORT AND PHYSICAL RECREATION
SELF-ASSESSED HEALTH STATUS
Survey respondents were asked to make a general assessment of their own health against a five point scale ranging from excellent through to poor. Participants in sport generally rated their health better than did non-participants.
The effect of age on self-assessed health status was also examined. The number of respondents reporting their health as excellent declined with age, except for those in the 55-64 year age group. For example, 37% of those aged 18-24 years had a self-assessed health status of excellent, while of those aged 65 and over, just 14% rated their health status as excellent. Participation rates were found to be highest for those who rated their health status as excellent in each age group.
PARTICIPATION IN SPORT AND PHYSICAL RECREATION, by self-assessed health status
Further details can be found in Sport and Social Capital, Australia, 2006 (cat. no. 4917.0).
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This page last updated 3 December 2009