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In the last twenty-five years women's earnings have significantly closed the gap with men's, the number of children dying from injuries has halved, but our twenty year-olds are more likely to be living at home.
These trends and other ways in which life in Australia has changed are examined in Australian Social Trends 2005, released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Key highlights from the publication include:
The number of people living alone is projected to increase from 1.8 million in 2001 to between 2.8 million and 3.7 million in 2026. This is related to the ageing population, delayed marriage and increases in divorce and separation.
The social circumstances of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have improved since 1994 with increases in educational attainment, employment and home ownership. The proportion of Indigenous people with a non-school qualification (such as a certificate, diploma or bachelor degree) was 29% in 2002, up from 19% in 1994. Nevertheless, when compared with non-Indigenous Australians, Indigenous people remain disadvantaged across a range of areas.
What a difference a generation makes - life for people in their twenties in 2001 has changed since 1976. Twentysomethings in 2001 were more likely to be living with their parents than in 1976 (30% compared to 21% respectively). The chances of twentysomethings having their own family with children is half what it used to be (20% compared to 41%).
However, twentysomethings were almost twice as likely to be studying (23% compared to 12%) and to have gained a non-school qualification (45% compared to 31%). Labour force participation has increased from 75% to 81% over this period, with this increase being driven by increased participation for women (up from 57% in 1976 to 75%) and a slight decrease for men (92% to 87%).
Babies born to women aged 30 years or more accounted for half (51%) of Australia's total fertility rate in 2003, a substantial increase from 41% ten years earlier. The median age of mothers at birth has also increased slightly (30.5 years up from 28.9 years). Australia's total fertility rate fell from 1.86 to 1.76 between 1993 and 1998, but remained relatively stable between 1998 and 2003 - varying between 1.73 and 1.76.
Family and community
Many grandparents play a caring role for their grandchildren. In a typical week one in five children (aged 11 and under) had spent some time in the care of grandparents in 2002, and grandparents provided almost a third of the total hours of child care. There were 22,500 families in which a grandparent (or grandparents) were the primary carers of their grandchildren aged 0-17 years in 2003.
Health and Education
Over the past two decades the number of children (aged 1-14 years) who died as a result of injury has halved, from 553 deaths in 1983 to 231 in 2003. However, injuries (such as transport accidents and drownings) remain the leading cause of death for children of this age.
Australian 15 year old school students have high levels of mathematical and scientific literacy. In 2003, their average scores in an international assessment survey placed them among the top third of 41 OECD and other participating countries.
Work, Economic resources
Casual employment has increased over the last decade with over one-quarter (26%) of employees casual in 2003, up from 22% in 1993. Casual employees were most likely to be women (58%), aged 15-24 years (40%) and employed in lower skilled occupations in 2003. Most casual employees worked part-time (70%) compared with 16% of ongoing employees.
On average, women earn less from employment than men. Women earned 92% of the average (hourly ordinary-time) earnings of men in May 2004 (calculation based on full-time adult non-managerial employees). Thirty years ago women were earning 78% of male earnings. Factors affecting the gap between female and male earnings include industry and occupation of job, employment experience and age. However, the gender wage gap in Australia is considerably less than in most other OECD countries.
Other areas of social concern
Household water use accounted for almost one-tenth (9%) of all water consumed in Australia in 2000-01. The vast majority (90%) of households in 2002 reported conserving water by using a water saving device (such as a dual flush toilet) and/or by using a conservation practice such as taking shorter showers. Between 1994 and 2004, the proportion of households with reduced flow shower heads and dual flush toilets almost doubled (from 22% to 44% and 39% to 74% respectively).
More detail including other articles, state/territory summary data on key social indicators and some international comparisons appear in Australian Social Trends, 2005 (cat. no. 4102.0).
AUSTRALIAN SOCIAL TRENDS - STATE/TERRITORY SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION
The following table provides some state/territory specific information related to highlights in the national Australian Social Trends media release.
Media note: while most of the articles in Australian Social Trends 2005 present a national picture, state/territory tables for a range of social indicators are contained at the start of each chapter.
The last chapter provides international comparisons in the areas of population, health, education and work.
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