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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1994  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/05/1994   
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Contents >> Population >> Population Projections: Projections of the aged population

Population Projections: Projections of the aged population

By 2041, the number of aged Australians is expected to more than double to reach 5.5 million, representing 22% of the total population.

Australia's population is set to age rapidly in the next century, in common with many of the world's economically developed countries, and for similar reasons; decreased fertility and greater longevity associated with economic affluence.

Australia is among the younger of the highly industrialised countries of the world and, like them, is confronting the social and economic issues associated with a large and rapidly growing aged population. Among the most important issues forming government policies for the future are income support and the provision of health services and community support services for the aged.

In world terms Australia has a relatively large aged population. In 1992, 11% of Australia's population was aged 65 years or more, about the same as New Zealand and much higher than other close neighbours. In 1992 the aged accounted for 4% of the population of Indonesia and 2.5% of the population of Papua New Guinea (see International table 1).

Aged population

In this review aged are all persons aged 65 years and over. Dependency ratios for the aged and for children (aged 0-14 years) are ratios per working age (aged 15-64 years) population.

Projections methodology

The ABS uses the cohort component method of population projection. This method takes a base year population for each sex by single years of age and advances it year by year by applying assumptions about future mortality and migration. Assumed age-specific fertility rates are applied to the female populations of child-bearing ages to provide the new cohort of births. This procedure is repeated for each year in the projection period for each State and Territory and for Australia. The resulting population projections for each year for the States and Territories, by sex and age in single years, are adjusted to sum to the Australian results.

The ABS produces several series of population projections based on different combinations of assumptions about mortality, fertility and migration. The data presented here are from Series A because the assumptions (medium fertility, constant low overseas migration and high interstate migration) most closely reflect prevailing trends.

For detailed information on the assumptions underlying Series A, see Projections of the Populations of Australia, States and Territories, 1993-2041 (cat. no. 3222.0).


Population growth
Under Series A assumptions, Australia's population is projected to grow by about 40% in the 48-year period 1993-2041, to reach a total of 25 million. There are large variations between the States and Territories in projected growth rates. Queensland is projected to experience the greatest proportional increase in population (88%) and to overtake Victoria as the second most populous State by 2031. Western Australia's population, which overtook South Australia's in 1983, is projected to increase by 66% and to outnumber South Australia's by 1.1 million in 2041. The population of the Australian Capital Territory is projected to increase by 81% and to overtake Tasmania's population by 2041. The Northern Territory is also projected to experience strong growth (75%) in the 1993-2041 period.

The fastest growing States and Territories will also experience the greatest growth in their aged populations. The aged populations in Queensland and Western Australia are expected to more than treble, in the Australian Capital Territory to increase five-fold and in the Northern Territory, eight-fold. This rapid growth is from a relatively low base, however, particularly in the Territories which have the youngest age profiles. In 2041 the aged will therefore still represent a relatively small proportion of the total population in the fastest growing States and Territories.

PROJECTED GROWTH OF THE POPULATION (SERIES A)

Aged 65 years and over
Total population


1993
2041
Increase 1993-2041
1993
2041
Increase 1993-2041
State/Territory
'000
'000
%
'000
'000
%

NSW
734.8
1,759.3
139.4
6,008.6
7,941.4
32.2
Vic.
533.2
1,230.0
130.7
4,462.1
5,282.2
18.4
Qld
344.7
1,228.3
256.4
3,112.6
5,853.8
88.1
SA
196.0
405.6
106.9
1,461.7
1,622.3
11.0
WA
169.6
578.8
241.3
1,677.6
2,786.2
66.1
Tas.
57.7
134.2
132.4
471.7
537.7
14.0
NT
4.9
40.9
728.2
168.3
294.9
75.2
ACT
19.9
100.5
404.4
298.9
540.0
80.7
Australia
2,061.0
5,477.6
165.8
17,661.5
24,858.4
40.7

Source: Population Projections, 1993-2041: Series A


Dependency ratios
By the year 2026 the number of aged persons will exceed the number of children. The aged dependency ratio is projected (under series A assumptions) to increase fairly slowly, from 0.18 in 1993 to 0.21 in 2011, then more rapidly to 0.36 in 2041. During this period the child dependency ratio is expected to decline until 2011 and then to stabilise at around 0.29.

The decrease in the child dependency ratio implies a decrease in outlays on children's services. However, this will do little to offset the likely increase in outlays associated with ageing, particularly on health services and income support, which are much higher than the outlays associated with children1.

In 1993 South Australia had the highest aged dependency ratio (0.20) followed by Tasmania (0.19), New South Wales and Victoria (both 0.18). In 2041 aged dependency ratios are expected to be highest in Tasmania (0.43), South Australia (0.42), and Victoria (0.40) (see Population - State summary tables).

PROJECTED DEPENDENCY RATIOS (SERIES A)



Source: Population Projections, 1993-2041: Series A; Estimated Resident Population


The aged population
The aged population is expected (under series A assumptions) to grow from 2.1 million in 1993 to 5.5 million in 2041, increasing as a proportion of the total population from 12% in 1993 to 22% in 2041. The largest increases (of about 98,000 a year) are projected to occur during 2011-31 as survivors of the 'baby boom' generation (born in the late 1940s to 1960s) reach retirement age.

The number of persons aged 85 years and over is projected to increase by an average of 10,000 a year until 2026 (except during 2016-21 when the very low birth rates of the 1930s depression are echoed in this cohort), and then by an average of 26,000 a year during 2026-41.

Women have a longer life expectancy than men (see Health - National summary tables) and therefore outnumber men in the older age groups. In 1993 there were 76 men for every 100 women aged 65 years and over. By 2041 the aged sex ratio is expected to be 79, reflecting a prospective reduction in the gap between male and female life expectancy. For persons aged 85 years and over the sex ratio is projected to increase from 42 in 1993 to 50 in 2041. In 2041 women are expected to be 56% of the aged population and 67% of persons aged 85 years and over.

South Australia has the oldest age structure of all States and Territories, a situation expected to remain unchanged well into the next century. By 2041, the aged are projected to represent 25% of the State's population, and children 15%. The aged are also projected to represent 25% of Tasmanians, and children 16%. In both States persons age 85 years and over are projected to account for over 4% of the population compared to the national average of 3.5%. Victoria's population is also expected to have a relatively old age profile in 2041 while New South Wales will remain close to the national average.

PROJECTED AGED AS A PROPORTION OF THE POPULATION (SERIES A)


Source: Population Projections, 1993-2041: Series A; Estimated Resident Population

AGE DISTRIBUTION OF THE PROJECTED POPULATION (SERIES A), 2041

NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT
Aust.
Age group (years)
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Under 15
17.6
16.8
17.6
15.5
17.7
16.4
21.6
17.5
17.3
15-64
60.3
59.9
61.4
59.5
61.5
58.7
64.5
63.9
60.6
65 and over
22.2
23.3
21.0
25.0
20.8
25.0
13.9
18.6
22.0
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
85 and over
3.6
3.8
3.1
4.2
3.3
4.1
1.5
3.0
3.5
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
Total
7,941.4
5,282.2
5,853.8
1,622.3
2,786.2
537.7
294.9
540.0
24,858.4

Source: Population Projections, 1993-2041: Series A


Endnotes
1 Household Expenditure Survey, Australia: the Effects of Government Benefits and Taxes on Household Income (6537.0).



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