2071.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia - Stories from the Census, 2016  
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AGEING POPULATION, 2016


INTRODUCTION

The Australian population is ageing. The proportion of older people, those aged 65 years and over, has been steadily increasing over the last century for both men and women, and this trend is expected to continue. Improvements in the life expectancy of both men and women, decreasing death rates, higher standards of healthcare, and the birth rate falling below the replacement rate are all contributing to this trend.


CHANGES OVER TIME

The 2016 Census of Population and Housing showed that the number of people aged 65 years and over had increased from one in every seven people in 2011 (14%), to nearly one in every six people (16%) in 2016. This proportion has increased steadily over the past century, from one in twenty-five people in 1911.

Graph Image for Proportion of older people (those aged 65 years and over) by sex, 1911 to 2016

Footnote(s): (a)The 1921 and 1947 Census counts include a small number of people who didn't state their age. This group was included in the total when calculating proportions.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 1911, 1921, 1947, 1966, 1996, 2011 and 2016


Between 2011 and 2016, the number of people aged 65 years and over increased by 664,500. Although those aged 65 to 74 years have consistently accounted for the majority of older people (56% of people aged 65 years and over), there were increasing numbers of people in the 75 to 84 years (30%), and 85 years and over age groups (13%). In 2016, there were 486,800 people aged 85 years and over. This is a substantial group with more people than the population of the Australian Capital Territory (397,400) and gaining on the population of Tasmania (510,000).

Graph Image for Number of older people by age group, 1911 to 2016

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 1911, 1921, 1947, 1966, 1996, 2011 and 2016.


Male to female ratio of older people

In 1911, there were 111 men for every 100 women aged 65 years and over (male to female ratio). In 2016, there were 86 men aged 65 and over for every 100 women. For the 65 to 74 years age group, there were 95 men for every 100 women in 2016. This figure decreases with age to 85 men for every 100 women in the 75 to 84 years age group, and 59 men for every 100 women aged 85 years and over. In recent years, life expectancy for men has outpaced women so it is likely that this ratio will increase over coming years.

Graph Image for Number of males per 100 females, 1911 to 2016

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 1911, 1921, 1947, 1966, 1996, 2011 and 2016


Comparison with other countries

In 2013, Australia had one of the lower proportions of older people (14%) of all OECD countries. It ranked as the 21st oldest country out of 31 countries. This was the same proportion as New Zealand (14%). However, the proportion of older people in OECD countries varies greatly from one in four people in Japan (25%), which has the world's largest proportion of older people, to only 6.5% of people in Mexico.1

Graph Image for Older people as a proportion of the total population by selected OECD countries(a), 2013

Footnote(s): (a) data only available for 31 of the 35 OECD countries.

Source(s): OECD (2017), Elderly population (indicator)



WHERE DO OLDER PEOPLE LIVE?

States and territories

Tasmania had the highest proportion of older people (19%) in 2016, with one in every five people aged 65 years or more. The Northern Territory had the lowest proportion (7.2%). Interstate migration of younger adults from Tasmania to the mainland of Australia has contributed to Tasmania overtaking South Australia since 2006 as the ‘oldest state'.2 However, South Australia was still the state with the highest proportion of people aged 85 years and over (2.7%) in 2016.

Graph Image for Proportion of older people by State and Territory, 2006 and 2016

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2006 and 2016


Urban areas

In 2016, the majority (71%) of the Australian population lived in major urban areas. However, older people were less likely to live in this type of area than those aged under 65 years (65% compared to 72%). Younger adults moving to large cities from other areas for education, employment and other opportunities contribute to a reduction in the size of the younger population in non-major urban areas, and therefore an increase in the proportion of older people.

Graph Image for Proportion of older people by Section of State, 2016

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016



ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE

In 2016, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had a much younger age profile than non-Indigenous people. The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 65 years and over was 4.8% compared with 16% for non-Indigenous people. Further information on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is available in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population data summary and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander article.


RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION

Christianity was the most commonly reported religion in the 2016 Census. Older people were more likely to report an affiliation with a Christian religion than those aged under 65 years (70% and 49% respectively).

Older people were also less likely to report a non-Christian religion (3.3% compared to 9.1%) or to have no religion (16% compared to 33%). Judaism was the only top five non-Christian religion where there was a higher proportion of older people than younger people, reflecting the high rate of Jewish migration associated with World War II.3


RELIGIOUS AFFILIATIONS BY AGE, 2016
Under 65 years
65 years and over
%
%

Christian
48.8
70.3
Catholic
22.4
23.9
Anglican
11.4
23.3
Uniting Church
3.1
7.1
Presbyterian and Reformed
1.8
4.8
Eastern Orthodox
2.0
2.9
Other Christian
8.1
8.2
Other religions
9.1
3.3
Buddhism
2.6
1.4
Islam
3.0
0.6
Judaism
0.4
0.6
Hinduism
2.2
0.4
Sikhism
0.6
0.1
Other
0.4
0.2
No Religion(a)
32.7
16.1
Total(b)
100
100

(a) No Religion includes secular beliefs (e.g. Atheism) and other spiritual beliefs (e.g. New Age).
(b) As religion was an optional question, the total for Australia will not equal the sum of the items above it. Not stated responses were included when calculating proportions.

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016

Further information on religion in Australia is available in the Religion data summary and Religion article.


COUNTRY OF BIRTH

In the 2016 Census, over a third (37%) of older people were born overseas. In contrast to the younger overseas-born, older people were more likely to have been born in Europe (67% of those born overseas) than Asia (16%), and almost a quarter of older people (24%) were born in England. This is partly a reflection of Australia's migration history, with earlier post-war migration from Europe and then more recent increases in migration from Asia.

REGION OF BIRTH BY AGE, 2016
Under 65 years
65 years and over
Total
%
%
%

North-West Europe
18.8
40.8
23.2
Southern and Eastern Europe
6.7
26.6
10.7
South-East Asia
16.0
7.0
14.2
Oceania and Antarctica(a)
11.8
6.2
10.7
North-East Asia
14.6
5.5
12.8
Southern and Central Asia
14.9
3.9
12.7
Middle East
5.4
3.0
4.9
Sub-Saharan Africa
5.8
2.7
5.1
South America
2.0
1.4
1.9
North Africa
1.1
1.3
1.2
Northern America
2.3
1.3
2.1
Other Americas(b)
0.4
0.2
0.4
Total(c)(d)
100
100
100

(a) Excludes those born in Australia
(b) Other Americas includes Central America, Caribbean and Americas, nfd
(c) Total includes Inadequately described, At sea, and the Middle East, nfd
(d) The 'not stated' category is excluded when calculating proportions. Figures for the 'not stated' category are available in the Ageing Population data cube.

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016

Year of arrival for older people born overseas

Older overseas-born people who arrived in Australia around the mid 1970's and onwards were more likely to have been born in Asia than in Europe. This reflects the trend for the entire Australian overseas-born population.

Graph Image for Year of arrival(a) for older people born in Europe or Asia

Footnote(s): (a) The 'not stated' category was excluded when calculating proportions.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016



LANGUAGES SPOKEN AT HOME

The majority of older people (82%) only spoke English at home in 2016. For those who spoke a language other than English at home, Italian and Greek were the most commonly reported languages (3.2% and 2.2% of all older people respectively). This is in contrast to those aged under 65 years, where Greek and Italian were the fifth and sixth most commonly reported languages for this group.

Graph Image for Top five languages spoken at home(a), Older people, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) People who were in the 'Spoke English only at home' category or the 'not stated' category were excluded when calculating proportions. Figures for these categories are available in the Ageing Population data cube.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016



TYPE OF DWELLING

In 2016, almost all Australians (98%) lived in a private dwelling. This proportion decreased with age, from 99% of people aged 65 to 74 years to only three-quarters (75%) of those aged 85 years and over.

Graph Image for Proportion of older people by dwelling type(a)(b), 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes people who weren't at home on Census night. (b) Total Includes migratory, offshore and shipping areas. (c) Non-private dwellings are establishments which provide a communal or transitory type of accommodation.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


For the 75 to 84 years and 85 years and over age groups, women were less likely than men to live in a private dwelling. This difference was most noticeable for the 85 years and over group (71% of women and 82% of men). Older women are more likely than older men to be widowed (33% compared to 10%), and women over the age of 85 are more likely to have a core activity need for assistance (57% compared to 44%). These factors could contribute to women over 85 being more likely to move from a private dwelling into cared accommodation (nursing homes or accommodation for the aged with common living and eating facilities).

Graph Image for Proportion of older people in private dwellings(a)(b), 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes people who weren't at home on Census night. (b) Total Includes migratory, offshore and shipping areas.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016



LIVING IN PRIVATE DWELLINGS

Living arrangements

In 2016, more than half (58%) of all older people lived with a spouse or partner in a private dwelling. The group who lived with a spouse or partner included older people who: had no children in the dwelling (48% of all older people), lived with children (7.7%), or lived in a multi-family household (2.6%). A quarter of older people (25%) lived alone.

The 65 to 74 years age group were most likely to live with a spouse or partner (68% of people in this age group), while those aged 85 years and older were more likely than the other age groups to live alone (35%).

For all Australians, the likelihood of a person living alone increases with age. However, the increase is much sharper for older women than older men. Older women were more likely than other age groups to be in a lone person household, close to a third (31%) of older women compared to almost one in five older men (18%). The difference between women and men was greatest for the 85 years and over age group (41% compared to 25%).

Graph Image for Older males by age by selected living arrangements(a)(b), 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes people who weren't at home on Census night. (b) Total includes unrelated individuals, other non-classifiable relationship, and those living in a non-private dwelling; excludes people with a usual residence in an Other non-classifiable household.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


Graph Image for Older females by age by selected living arrangements(a)(b), 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes people who weren't at home on Census night. (b) Total includes unrelated individuals, other non-classifiable relationship, and those living in a non-private dwelling; excludes people with a usual residence in an Other non-classifiable household.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


Housing tenure

Whether a house is owned, being purchased, or rented can vary depending on who lives in the household. Older people who lived in a private dwelling with a spouse or partner were more likely to live in a dwelling that was owned outright or had a mortgage than those who lived alone.

Graph Image for Older people by Tenure Type by selected living arrangements(a), 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Excludes people who weren't at home on Census night. (b) Includes dwellings being purchased under a shared equity scheme. (c) Includes dwellings being occupied rent-free. (d) Includes dependent and/or non-dependent children.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


Housing suitability

Some older people live in a dwelling which has more bedrooms than the number of people who usually live there. This may be through their own choice. However, they may wish to downsize but be discouraged by financial or other disincentives.4 A large proportion of older people who were a spouse or partner (76%) or in a lone person household (65%), lived in a dwelling with two or more spare bedrooms.

Graph Image for Housing suitability(a)(b) of older people by selected living arrangements, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Housing suitability compares the number of bedrooms in a dwelling with a range of household demographics, such as the number of usual residents, their age and sex. Using criteria developed by the Canadian National Occupancy Standard, it can identify if a dwelling is either under-utilised (with spare bedrooms) or over-utilised (needing extra bedrooms). (b) Restricted to people who own or are purchasing their dwelling who were at home on Census night. (c) Includes dependent and/or non-dependent children.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016



LIVING IN NON-PRIVATE DWELLINGS

Non-private dwellings provide communal or short-term accommodation. In 2016, a small proportion of older people (5.7%) lived in a non-private dwelling. Of the older people who lived in these dwellings, the majority (91%) were in cared accommodation (nursing homes or accommodation for the aged with common living and eating facilities). The likelihood of living in cared accommodation increased sharply with age from 1.0% of people aged 65 to 74 years to almost a quarter (24%) of those aged 85 years and over. In the 85 years and over age group, women were more likely than men to live in cared accommodation (28% compared with 17%). This may be because women in this age group are more likely than men to have a need for assistance (57% compared with 44%).

Graph Image for Proportion of older people in cared accommodation(a) by age group, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) Cared accommodation includes nursing homes, and accommodation for the retired or aged with common living and eating facilities.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016



INCOME

As reported in the 2016 Census, the weekly median personal income for older Australians was $440 per week.

Income is closely related to participation in the labour force. Older people who were unemployed or not in the labour force had higher median personal incomes than those in similar circumstances aged 25 to 64 years. This is probably due to older people being more likely to have income from a variety of sources, including from superannuation, other assets and the Age pension.5

MEDIAN PERSONAL INCOME PER WEEK BY LABOUR FORCE STATUS BY AGE, 2016

25 to 64 years
65 years and over

Employed
$1 131
$859
Unemployed
$237
$393
Not in the Labour Force
$298
$418
Total
$913
$440

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


EMPLOYMENT

Traditionally, the retirement age in Australia has been 65 years.6 The proportion of people in the labour force drops markedly after this age.

However, the past 3 Censuses show that the proportion of people in the labour force aged 65 years and over has been steadily increasing from 9.4% in 2006 to 14% in 2016. One in every five people (21%) aged 65 to 74 years was in the labour force in 2016.

The proportion of 55 to 64 year olds in the labour force has also increased over the same period (58% to 66%), indicating it is likely that the number of older people in the labour force will continue to increase.

Graph Image for Proportion of people (aged 55 and over) in the labour force(a)(b) by age, 2006, 2011 and 2016

Footnote(s): (a) The 'not stated' category was excluded when calculating proportions. Figures for the 'not stated' category are available in the Ageing Population data cube. (b) The Census of Population and Housing and the Labour Force Survey both collect information about labour market activity. Information comparing the two collections is available in The 2016 Census and the Labour Force Survey fact sheet in Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Census and Census Data, Australia (cat. no. 2900.0).

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2006, 2011 and 2016


In 2016, older men were more likely than older women to be in the labour force (18% compared with 10%), and also more likely to be working full-time (49% compared with 29%).

Graph Image for Proportion of older people in the labour force(a) by age and sex, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) The 'not stated' category was excluded when calculating proportions. Figures for the 'not stated' category are available in the Ageing Population data cube.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016



OCCUPATION AND INDUSTRY

The most common industry and occupation for employed older people in 2016 related to farming. Specialised beef cattle farming (3.2%) was the most commonly reported industry. This aligns with the most commonly reported occupation, Livestock farmers (4.7%). Although the most common industries and occupations differed between men and women, farming still featured in the Top 5 for each group. Farmers are more likely to continue living and working on their property than people in other occupations and industries, prolonging their careers.

TOP 5 INDUSTRIES OF EMPLOYMENT(a), OLDER PEOPLE, 2016
Males
%
Females
%
Persons
%

Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)
3.6
Hospitals (except Psychiatric Hospitals)
5.8
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)
3.2
Road Freight Transport
2.1
Aged Care Residential Services
5.0
Hospitals (except Psychiatric Hospitals)
3.1
Accounting Services
1.9
Primary Education
3.5
Aged Care Residential Services
2.4
Real Estate Services
1.7
Other Social Assistance Services
3.1
General Practice Medical Services
2.0
General Practice Medical Services
1.6
Beef Cattle Farming (Specialised)
2.7
Accounting Services
1.9

(a)The 'not stated' category was excluded when calculating proportions. Figures for the 'not stated' category are available in the Ageing Population data cube.

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016

TOP 5 OCCUPATIONS(a), OLDER PEOPLE, 2016

Males
%
Females
%
Persons
%

Livestock Farmers
5.2
Sales Assistants (General)
5.1
Livestock Farmers
4.7
Truck Drivers
2.7
General Clerks
4.9
Sales Assistants (General)
3.4
Sales Assistants (General)
2.3
Registered Nurses
4.3
General Clerks
2.4
Bus and Coach Drivers
2.3
Livestock Farmers
3.8
Commercial Cleaners
2.0
Crop Farmers
2.1
Receptionists
3.6
Retail Managers
2.0

(a)The 'not stated' category was excluded when calculating proportions. Figures for the 'not stated' category are available in the Ageing Population data cube.

Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


EDUCATION

In 2016, a third (33%) of older people had completed Year 12 or equivalent, and 40% had a non-school qualification. Levels of school and non-school educational attainment for older people were highest for the 65 to 74 years age group reflecting increased accessibility and desirability of education over time.

In 2016, those in the 65 to 74 years age group were more likely than the 85 years and over group to have a non-school qualification (46% compared to 27%). They were also more likely to have completed Year 12 (37% compared to 25%).

Graph Image for Highest non-school qualification(a), Older people, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) The 'not stated' category was excluded when calculating proportions. Figures for the 'not stated' category are available in the Ageing Population data cube.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


Conversely the 85 years and over group were more likely than the 65 to 74 years group to have not gone to school (3.5% compared with 1.4%).

Graph Image for Completed Year 12 or equivalent(a), Older people, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) The 'not stated' category was excluded when calculating proportions.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


In 2016, older people with a non-school qualification were twice as likely to be in the labour force than those without one (20% and 9.9% respectively). Those with higher levels of education were also more likely to have a higher personal median income regardless of whether or not they were in the labour force.


DISABILITY AND UNPAID WORK

Core activity need for assistance

Older age can be associated with a greater need for assistance with everyday activities. In the 2016 Census, 3.1% of people aged under 65 years reported a need for assistance with a core activity such as mobility, communication or self-care. This proportion increased with age from one in ten (9.7%) people aged 65 to 74 years to one in two people aged 85 years and over (53%).

The majority (87%) of older people living in a non-private dwelling reported having a need for assistance. Regardless of where they lived, the likelihood of reporting a need for assistance increased with age.

Graph Image for Need for assistance(a) by age by sex, Older people, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) The 'not stated' category was excluded when calculating proportions. Figures for the 'not stated' category are available in the Ageing Population data cube.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


Unpaid assistance to a person with a disability

In 2016, older people were slightly more likely than those aged under 65 years to provide unpaid assistance to a person with a disability (13% compared to 12%). In contrast to having a need for assistance, the likelihood of older people providing unpaid assistance to a person with a disability decreased with age, from 15% of people aged 65 to 74 years to 7.0% of people aged 85 years and over.

Older people in non-private dwellings were far less likely than people in private dwellings to provide unpaid assistance (1.1% compared with 14%).

Graph Image for Unpaid assistance to a person with a disability(a) by age by sex, Older people, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) The 'not stated' category was excluded when calculating proportions. Figures for the 'not stated' category are available in the Ageing Population data cube.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016


Unpaid child care

Older people played an important role in providing unpaid childcare in 2016. The proportion of older people providing care for a child (aged under 15 years) who was not their own has increased since 2006 (10% compared with 13% in 2016). People aged 65 to 74 years were most likely (19%) to have provided care for a child (aged under 15 years) who was not their own. This accounted for nearly one in five people in this age group. The greatest increase between 2006 and 2016 was for women in the 65 to 74 years age group (18 % compared to 22%).

Graph Image for Unpaid child care(a) by age by sex, Older people, 2016

Footnote(s): (a) The 'not stated' category was excluded when calculating proportions. Figures for the 'not stated' category are available in the Ageing Population data cube.

Source(s): ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016



EXPLANATORY INFORMATION

For definitions of the terms used above, see the Census of Population and Housing: Census Dictionary, 2016 (cat. no. 2901.0). Selected items are also included in the Glossary, from the Explanatory Notes tab at the top of this page. For more information about 2016 Census data release and products, go to www.abs.gov.au/census.

Data contained in this article and further related data can be found in the Downloads tab at the top of the page.


FOOTNOTES

1. OECD (2017), Elderly population (indicator). doi: 10.1787/8d805ea1-en. Accessed from <https://data.oecd.org/pop/elderly-population.htm#indicator-chart> on 10 August 2017
2. ABS (2016), Australian Demographic Statistics, cat. no. 3101.0. Accessed from <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/3101.0Feature%20Article1Jun%202016> on 13 October 2017
3. Department of Immigration and Border Protection (2015), A History of the Department of Immigration - Managing Migration to Australia. Accessed from <https://www.border.gov.au/CorporateInformation/Documents/immigration-history.pdf> on 13 October 2017
4. Productivity Commission (2015), Housing Decisions of older Australians. Accessed from <https://www.pc.gov.au/research/completed/housing-decisions-older-australians/housing-decisions-older-australians.pdf> on 13 October 2017
5. ABS (2013-14), Household Income and Wealth, cat no 6523.0. Accessed from < http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/6523.0~2013-14~Main%20Features~Older%20households~16> on 13 October 2017
6. ABS 2012-13), Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia, July 2012 to June 2013 (cat. no. 6238.0) Accessed from <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/6238.0Feature%20Article1July%202012%20to%20June%202013?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=6238.0&issue=July%202012%20to%20June%202013&num=&view=> on 13 October 2017