4914.0.55.001 - Age Matters, May 2009  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/05/2009   
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The following statistics are drawn from articles in the first quarterly issue of Australian Social Trends (cat. no. 4102.0), released in March 2009.

Future Population Growth and Ageing
Couples in Australia
Mental Health
Household Work Across the Life Course
Household Debt
Retirement and Retirement Intentions


The following statistics are drawn from the article Future Population Growth and Ageing. The term 'older people' refers to those aged 65 years or over, while 'working-age' refers to people aged 15 to 64 years.

Did you know?
  • The number of people aged 65-84 years is projected to grow from 2.4 to 6.4 million between 2007 and 2056.
  • Over the same period, the number of people aged 85 years and over is projected to grow five-fold from 334,000 in 2007 to 1.7 million in 2056.
  • For each older person in 2007, there were five working-age people, while in 2056 there will be less than three working-age people for every older person.
    • In the non-capital city areas of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, it is projected that by 2056 there will be less than two people of working age for every person aged 65 years and over.
    • In contrast, capital cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth are projected to have considerably younger populations with around three people of working age for every one aged 65 years and over.
    • Darwin is projected to remain the youngest city with nearly five people of working age for every older person.


The following statistics are drawn from the article Couples in Australia.

Did you know?
  • The proportion of people who were living in a registered marriage has declined since 1986 across all age groups, with the exception of those aged 65 and over. The decline in the proportion of married people in age groups under 65 years is partly explained by the increasing proportion of people living in de facto relationships, but more so by the increasing tendency for people to live without a partner.
  • In contrast to younger age groups, in 2006 a higher proportion of people aged 75 and over were married (42%) than in 1986 (34%). This partly reflects longer life expectancy, with an increasing likelihood of living into old age, meaning that spouses are widowed at an older age. However, there is still a big difference in the proportion of men (63%) and women (27%) living in couple relationships (either married or as de facto partners) in this age group, reflecting the longer life expectancy of women.
  • For people aged 65-74 years who had only ever been in their current relationship, the median time together was 46 years, while for people aged 35-44 years who had had three or more live-in relationships, the median duration of the current relationship was six years.


The following statistics are drawn from the article Mental Health. Anxiety disorders generally involve feelings of tension, distress or nervousness. Mood disorders include depression, dysthymia and bipolar affective disorder.

Did you know?
  • Women were more likely to have experienced anxiety disorders than men (18% and 11% respectively). Anxiety disorders were more common in women aged 16-54 years (21%) compared with older women aged 65-85 years (6.3%).
  • Mood disorders affected 6.2% of people aged 16-85 years (7.1% of women and 5.3% of men). The rate was higher for those aged 16-44 years (7.6%) than it was for those aged 55-85 years (3.3%).
  • People aged 16-34 years were less likely to have used services for their mental health problems (29%) than people aged 35-54 (41%) or 55-85 years (37%).


The following statistics are drawn from the article Trends in Household Work. Household work includes domestic activities, caring for children and shopping.

Did you know?
  • The amount of time people devote to household work, and the mix of household activities they perform, can vary throughout different stages of the life course.
    • For women, time spent on household work tends to be greatest during the peak child-rearing period from 25 to 44 years. For men, time spent on household work increases with age.
    • The proportion of men and women who care for children, and the time they spend doing so, peaks among those aged 25-44 years.
    • In 2006, men aged 15-24 years spent an average of just under eight hours per week on household work, compared with between 17 and 21 hours for those aged 25-64 years, and 27 hours a week for men aged 65 years and over.
  • In contrast to child care activities, both participation in and time spent on domestic activities tends to increase with age for men and women. Older men and women, for example, spend much more time cooking and gardening in their retirement years. Men also spend more time shopping as they get older. This may reflect changes in time use as a result of being widowed, or caring for a partner in older age. In other cases, people may see gardening or preparing meals as an enjoyable way to spend the additional time available in retirement.


The following statistics are drawn from the article Household Debt.

Did you know?
  • Among older households, such as couples where the reference person is aged 65 years and over, most debt has been paid off and the value of assets is generally high while income is low. In 2005-06, the median level of debt for this group was very low ($1,600) while the median value of their assets was $590,000 and median income was $30,300 per year.


The following statistics are drawn from the articles Retirement and Retirement Intentions and Trends in Superannuation Coverage.

Did you know?
  • The proportion of people aged 65-69 years receiving either a full or part rate Age Pension rose from 49% in June 1991 to 64% in June 2008.
  • Over one million people plan to retire in the next ten years. However, not everyone plans to retire. One in seven employed Australians (aged 45 or over) intend to keep working for the rest of their lives. Of those who did intend to retire:
    • the average age at which they planned to retire was 64
    • around one-quarter expect a government pension or allowance to be their main income source (24% of men and 29% of women) when they retire
    • the proportion expecting that a government pension or allowance would be their main source of income at retirement increased with age, ranging from 22% of people aged 45-49 years to 35% of those aged 70 or over.
  • On average, employed people aged in their late 40s who planned to retire intended to do so at 62, those in their early 50s at 63, those in their late 50s at 64, those in their early 60s at 66, those in their late 60s at 70, and those aged 70 years or older at 76. Only half of all Australians aged 45 years and over were employed in 2007; 84% of 45-49 year olds, 79% of 50-54 year olds, 67% of 55-59 year olds, 46% of 60-64 year olds, 22% of 65-69 year olds, and just 5% of those aged 70 years or older.
  • As Australia's population ages, the plans that people have for retirement have become increasingly important to Australia's social and economic outlook. Since financial security is a key factor in many people's decision about when to retire, the global financial crisis, which has had an effect on superannuation balances and wealth, may cause some people to retire later than they had originally intended. There is a marked contrast between the patterns evident from retirees to date compared with the intentions of future retirees, and only time will tell whether people's intentions about when they might retire match reality.
  • The official age of retirement is when a worker can receive a pension. One difference between Australia and many OECD countries is the different ages at which men and women receive the age pension.
    • The qualification age for Australian women is progressively increasing, and will reach 65 in 2013.
    • While the official retirement age for Australian men in 2002-07 was higher than the OECD average, Australia's life expectancy is also higher than most other OECD countries - the exceptions are Japan, Iceland and Switzerland.