4914.0.55.001 - Newsletter: Age Matters, Apr 2003  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/04/2003   
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As the average age of the population increases, there is increasing interest in the effect the Baby Boomer generation will have on the Australian economy.


From 1946 to 1965 (inclusive) there were 4.2 million births in Australia. This 20 year period is generally referred to as the "Baby Boom". While other periods are occasionally quoted when referring to the post-World War II baby boom, the ABS endorses 1946 to 1965 as the definitive Baby Boomer birth years. This definition reflects the views of leading demographers, based on those years having a total fertility rate* at, or above, 3.0. Since 1966, the total fertility rate has gradually declined.

The definition of the Baby Boom period varies slightly between countries. Different years may therefore apply when referring to the baby-boom period experienced in other countries, as it is acknowledged that the "boom" in Australia lasted longer than was the case in some other countries.


The 2001 Census of Population and Housing counted 5.4 million Australian residents who by virtue of their age are considered part of the Baby Boom. Some information from the 2001 Census on the baby boomer generation:

  • At the date of the 2001 Census, Baby Boomers (who were then aged between 36 and 55 years of age inclusive) represented 28.6% of the population.
  • 50.6% of Baby Boomers were female
  • In 2001, 68.5% of Baby Boomers were married, 12.7% had never been married, 12.0% were divorced, 5.4% were separated and 1.4% were widowed.
  • 33.9% of Baby Boomers were born overseas; 17.7% of Baby boomers were born in predominantly non-English speaking countries, the highest proportion coming from Italy (7.4%).
  • The majority of working Baby Boomers were employees (78.2%), while 11.9% were own account workers, 9.3% were employers and 0.6% were contributing family workers.
  • In 2001, 12.5% of the Baby Boomer generation had a gross weekly income of $159 or less (including negative income) and 33.5% had a gross weekly income of $700 or more.
  • Almost one in five male Baby Boomers worked in the Manufacturing Industry and one in five female Baby Boomers worked in Health and Community Services.

* Total fertility rate (TFR) definition:
The sum of age-specific fertility rates (live births at each age of mother per female population of that age). It represents the number of children a female would bear during her lifetime if she experienced current age-specific fertility rates at each age of her reproductive life.

  • Detailed information from the 2001 Census about older Australians will soon be available in a new publication titled Census of Population and Housing: Ageing in Australia (cat. no. 2048.0). This publication (compiled by the ABS National Ageing Statistics Unit) specifically focusses on the older age groups in terms of their geographic distribution, mobility, indigenous status, birthplace and ancestry, language, religion, families and households, type of housing, housing costs, labour force participation, hours worked, income, transport, education and use of computers and the Internet. While a major focus is on the number and characteristics of older Australians (persons aged 65 years and over) it also explores the ageing process in Australia by examining other age cohorts including mature age workers and the very old, as well as examining trends over time by comparing with data from previous Censuses. This publication is due for release at the end of June 2003.
  • The Western Australian and South Australian Governments have recently commissioned the ABS to compile "Baby Boomer" compendium publications for those States. These publications will draw on 2001 Census data and information from a range of other ABS data series. Further information will be provided in the next edition of Age Matters. In the meantime, any inquiries should be directed to David Martyn, NASU.