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FEATURE ARTICLE: POPULATION BY AGE AND SEX, AUSTRALIAN STATES AND TERRITORIES
Tasmania experienced the largest increase in median age over the last 20 years, increasing by 7.8 years from 32.4 years in 1991 to 40.2 years in 2011. The emigration of younger adults from Tasmania to the Australian mainland has contributed to this accelerated ageing, see Migration, Australia (cat. no. 3412.0).
Between 30 June 1991 and 30 June 2011, the proportion of Australia's population aged 15-64 years has remained relatively stable, increasing from 66.8% to 67.4% of the total population. The proportion of people aged 65 years and over has increased from 11.3% to 13.7%. During the same period, the proportion of population aged 85 years and over has more than doubled from 0.9% of the population at 30 June 1991 to 1.8% of the total population at 30 June 2011. The proportion aged under 15 years decreased from 21.9% to 18.8%.
The age with the largest number of people in Australia at 30 June 2011 was 26 years with 341,300 people. However, the modal age for Tasmania and South Australia is 50 years, which corresponds to the emigration of younger adults from these states for education and employment.
CHILDREN (UNDER 15 YEARS OF AGE)
The number of children aged 0-14 years in the population increased by 42,200 in the 12 months to 30 June 2011. The number of children aged 0-4 years increased by 22,700, 5-9 increased by 17,900 and 10-14 decreased by 1,600.
In the year ended 30 June 2011, the Australian Capital Territory recorded the largest percentage increase (2.2%) in the number of children aged 0-14 years. Western Australia recorded positive growth of 2.0%, as did Queensland (1.4%), Victoria (1.2%), New South Wales (0.5%), Tasmania (0.3%) and South Australia (0.2%). The Northern Territory recorded a decrease of 0.4%.
In the 20 years between 30 June 1991 and 30 June 2011, the proportion of children aged 0-14 years decreased by 3.1 percentage points from 21.9% to 18.8%.
WORKING AGE POPULATION (AGED 15-64 YEARS)
The number of people aged 15-64 years (working age population) increased by 1.2% (or 181,000 persons) in the 12 months to 30 June 2011. Western Australia (2.3%), the Australian Capital Territory (1.4%), Victoria and Queensland (1.3%) each recorded growth rates for 15-64 year olds higher than the national average. New South Wales (0.9%), South Australia (0.5%), Tasmania (0.2%) and the Northern Territory (0.1%) each recorded growth rates for 15-64 year olds lower than the national average.
In the year ended 30 June 2011, there were 287,100 young people aged 15 who entered the working age population while 212,500 people turned 65 years and left the working age population.
In the 20 years between 30 June 1991 and 30 June 2011, the proportion of population aged 15-64 years increased from 66.8% to 67.4%.
In the 12 months to 30 June 2010, the number of people aged 65 years and over in Australia increased by 97,600 people, representing a 2.4% increase. The proportion of the population aged 65 years and over increased from 11.3% to 13.7% between 30 June 1991 and 30 June 2011.
All states and territories experienced growth in their populations aged 65 years and over in the year ended 30 June 2011. The Northern Territory (7.3%), the Australian Capital Territory (4.5%), Queensland (3.9%) and Western Australia (3.8%) experienced the largest increase in the numbers of persons aged 65 years and over.
AGED 85 YEARS AND OVER
In the 12 months to 30 June 2011, the number of people aged 85 years and over increased by 20,900 people (5.3%) to reach 415,400. Over the past two decades, this group increased by 169%, compared with a total population growth of 31% over the same period. There were almost twice as many females (269,100) than males (146,400) in this age group at 30 June 2011 which reflects the higher life expectancy for females compared with males.
In the year ended June 2011, the largest increases in the number of people aged 85 years and over occurred in the Northern Territory (10.6%), Australian Capital Territory (7.7%), followed by Western Australia (6.1%), New South Wales and Queensland (both 5.3%), Victoria and South Australia (both 5.1%) and Tasmania (3.9%).
AGED 100 YEARS AND OVER
In the 12 months to 30 June 2011, the number of people aged 100 years and over increased by 654 people (18.2%) to reach 4,252. Over the past two decades, the number of centenarians increased by 235%, compared with a total population growth of 31% over the same period. Increased life expectancy for both males and females has contributed to this rise. There were more than three times as many females (3,243) than males (1,009) in this age group at 30 June 2011 which reflects the higher life expectancy for females compared with males.
The sex ratio relates to the number of males per 100 females in a population or sub population. The sex ratio at birth is approximately 105 males per 100 females. Higher male mortality rates at younger ages result in the ratio approaching 100 for the 30-64 years age group. Net Overseas Migration can also influence the sex ratio, especially in the younger working ages where there is often a greater proportion of male migrants. Above age 65, the sex ratio reduces markedly due to the impact of higher male mortality on this population group.
At 30 June 2011, the sex ratio of the total population for Australia was 99.1 males per 100 females. At age 0, the sex ratio for Australia in 2011 was 105.4 males per 100 females. This excess of males in the earlier years contrasts with the opposite situation in the older years and for the total population which can be attributed to female longevity.
At 30 June 2011, the Northern Territory and Western Australia had 107.3 and 103.1 males per 100 females respectively. All other states and territories had lower ratios of males to females, as follows: Queensland 99.9; the Australian Capital Territory 99.2; New South Wales and Victoria 98.3; South Australia 97.8; and Tasmania 97.4.
Population ageing is a notable demographic characteristic of most developed countries and is related to sustained low fertility which results in proportionately fewer children. Population ageing is also caused by increasing life expectancy which results in proportionately more elderly people. In countries such as Japan, Italy, Greece, Sweden and Hong Kong, the number of people aged 65 years and over already exceeds the number of children aged 0-14 years. In Australia, based on the latest Series B population projections, the number of people aged 65 years and over is projected to exceed the number of children aged 0-14 years around the year 2025. For more information, see Population Projections, Australia, 2006 to 2101 (cat. no. 3222.0).
According to United Nations projections, all countries selected for analysis in the table below, titled 'Population Age Structure, International comparison - at 30 June', except for Greece and Sweden, are projected to experience no change or decreases in the proportion of children aged 0-14 years in their populations between 2010 and 2015. In most of these countries, the decrease in children aged 0-14 years is projected to be accompanied by a similar decrease in the proportion of people aged 15-64 years. In contrast, there is an increase in the proportion of people aged 65 and over in the selected group of countries. Japan is projected to experience a proportional decline in its population aged 0-14 years and 15-64 years, and a large proportional increase in its population aged 65 years and over.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics projections, the proportion of children (0-14 years) in the Australian population is projected to decline by 0.3 percentage points between 2010 and 2015, from 18.9% to 18.6%, while the proportion of people aged 15-64 years is projected to decline by 1.5 percentage points, from 67.6% to 66.1%. The proportion of people aged 65 years and over is projected to increase by 1.8 percentage points from 13.5% to 15.3%.
In 2010, the age structure of Australia's population was similar to that of New Zealand and the United States of America. Generally, the European countries and Japan had smaller proportions of children and higher proportions of older people than Australia. In contrast, other countries in Asia tended to have proportionally more children and far fewer older people, generally reflecting considerably higher fertility rates and lower life expectancies than those experienced in Australia.
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