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4109.0 - Older People, Australia: A Social Report, 1999  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/12/1999   
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SUMMARY OF TOPICS AND MAIN FINDINGS


CHAPTER ONE: POPULATION AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY

Summary of Topics

Characteristics of the older population - presents current age and sex structure of the Australian population.
Population growth - examines historical trends in population growth and structure, as well as the relationships between life expectancy, fertility and population projections.
International comparisons - compares Australian age structure and population projections with those of various comparable nations.
Geographic distribution - gives an overview of the regional distribution of the older population including State, section of State and proximity to the coast.
Migration - presents information about the internal migration of older people between the 1991 and 1996 Censuses and examines their overseas migration during 1997-98.
Cultural differences - examines the origins of older overseas-born Australians, factors relating to citizenship and cultural variables such as language and religion.

Main Findings

At 30 June 1998 there were 2.3 million older people (those aged 65 and over) in Australia. The older population is increasing - both in number and as a proportion of the total population - each year. Whereas older people comprised 12% of the total population in 1998, they are projected to form almost one-quarter (24%) of the total population by 2051.

As with people of all ages, the older population comprises a diverse cultural mix. In 1998, 32% of all older Australians had been born overseas, most commonly in the United Kingdom and Ireland (37% of all overseas-born) or Italy (12% of all overseas-born). There are relatively few Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 65 and over (around 10,600 people, or 3% of the Indigenous population in 1997), reflecting both the higher fertility and lower life expectancy of Indigenous people.



CHAPTER TWO: LIVING ARRANGEMENTS AND CARE

Summary of Topics

Living arrangements of the older population - provides overview of the living arrangements of older people highlighting differences according to age and sex.
Extended family relationships - examines the varying compositions of households in which older people live, includes sections focussing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and overseas born older people.
Couple families - presents information on older couples including marital status and whether they have children living with them.
People living alone - examines trends in the number, proportion and characteristics of older people living alone.
Older people with disabilities - provides information regarding the living arrangements of older people with disabilities including trends in cared accommodation and community based care.
Older people as carers - focuses on the provision of care by older people, including information such as their relationship to the recipient and the amount time they spend caring.

Main Findings

In 1996, 63% of older people were living in family households, mostly with their partners. Just over one-quarter (28%) of all older people lived alone.

As people grow older their living arrangements may be influenced by a number of factors associated with ageing, such as the death of a spouse, or the need for care resulting from increasing illness or disability. Accordingly, people aged 85 and over were more likely than those aged 65-84 to live in cared accommodation (32% and 4%, respectively), or alone (33% and 27%).

In addition to those older people who require care and assistance from others, many are actively involved as carers themselves. In 1998, around one in six carers (401,000 people) were aged 65 and over; the majority of these (69%) were caring for their partner. Of the 96,700 older people who were primary carers, almost two-thirds (62%) were women.



CHAPTER THREE: HEALTH AND DISABILITY

Summary of Topics

Health status - examines the health status of older people including recent and long-term conditions, mental illness and disability.
Health behaviours - provides information regarding the health behaviours of older people focussing on nutrition, exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption and preventative health actions.
Mortality trends - examines death rates as well as trends in the leading causes of death for older men and women.

Main Findings

As people age they become more vulnerable to ill-health. In 1995, 90% of older people had experienced a recent illness, and virtually all (99%) reported at least one long-term health condition. Hypertension and heart disease were commonly reported recent illnesses, while the most common long-term conditions were sight and hearing loss. Arthritis had affected half (50%) of all older people either recently or in the long-term.

In 1995, 57% of older people reported that they exercised, mainly through less vigorous activities such as walking. Although older people were less likely to exercise and more likely to be overweight than younger people, they were less likely to smoke or consume hazardous amounts of alcohol. In 1998, heart disease and cancer remained the leading causes of death among older people.



CHAPTER FOUR: ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT

Summary of Topics

Labour force participation - discusses recent trends in the labour force participation of older people by age and sex.
Paid work - summarises information regarding the employment of older people, includes sections on full- and part-time employment and unemployment.
Income and expenditure - examines the level and sources of income of older people including government pensions and superannuation, compares the final income (after addition of benefits and subtraction of taxes) of various age groups and provides information regarding the older people's use of Medicare services and contribution to private health insurance.

Main Findings

Major changes occur in the sources and level of income as people grow older. The declining labour force participation of older people contributes significantly to these changes. In 1998, 6% of older people were in the labour force, compared with 33% of those aged 60-64 and 59% of those aged 55-59.

Average income falls markedly with age. In 1996-97, government pensions and allowances were the principal source of income for almost three-quarters (74%) of all income units(a) where the reference person was aged 65 and over. Superannuation was the principal source of income for just 9% of these income units. Between 1986 and 1997 the proportion of people aged 45 and over holding superannuation coverage at retirement rose from 35% to 58%.



CHAPTER FIVE: PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT

Summary of Topics

Private dwellings - examines the housing characteristics of older people living in private dwellings including the dwelling structure, tenure type and housing costs/affordability.
Other types of accommodation - focuses on those older people who live in self-care accommodation (within retirement villages) and those in non-private dwellings where care may be provided.
Housing of Indigenous people - provides an overview of the housing characteristics of older Indigenous people.
Adequacy of housing - examines information such as number of bedrooms, accommodation modifications and the need to move house due to frailty or disability.
Appliances and safety devices in the home - summarises information on the use of labour saving and fire safety devices in the homes of older people.
Safety of older people - discusses perceptions of safety among older people and provides information regarding rates of crime victimisation among this group.

Main Findings

In 1996, 70% of all older people lived in separate houses and 17% were in semidetached dwellings, flats, units and apartments. In addition, around 3% of older people lived in self-care accommodation in retirement villages. Overall, 7% of older people lived in non-private dwellings such as nursing homes and other forms of cared accommodation; this increased rapidly among the very old to 31% of people aged 85-94 and 58% of those aged 95 and over.

Older people have higher rates of home ownership than younger people, with around 80% owning their home outright. As a result, in 1997-98 housing costs for older households were generally much lower than those for all households.

Older people are less likely to be victims of personal crime than younger people, although they do not always feel safe.



CHAPTER SIX: ACTIVITIES AND LIFESTYLES

Summary of Topics

Summary of activities - presents information on the amount of time spent by older people on their main activities.
People with a disability - analyses the time which older people with varying levels of restriction spent on main activities.
Domestic activities - examines older people's patterns of domestic work including variations according to sex, living arrangements and use of domestic services.
Social and community activities - provides information on time spent alone and with others as well as a range of activities including voluntary work, child care, cultural activities and sports and physical activities.
Travel - examines both domestic and international travel undertaken by older people.
Education - presents information regarding the educational attainment of older people as well as their participation in post-school education.
Use of new electronic technologies - examines older people's use of a range of technologies including electronic banking, home computers and the Internet.

Main Findings

Older people contribute to community and society through voluntary work for welfare and community organisations, child care for grandchildren and other forms of caring. In 1997, older people spent around 30% of their waking hours on unpaid work, comprising domestic activities, shopping, child care and voluntary work.

In 1997, older women spent more than twice as much time as men on housework, although this pattern was reversed for other household work such as grounds care and home maintenance. Nearly one-third (30%) of older people purchased at least one domestic service (during a two-week reference period) with gardening assistance being the most common.

In the 12 months to June 1999, 42% of older men and 33% of older women participated in some form of sport or physical activity, with walking and lawn bowls being the most popular. Older people attended cultural venues such as the cinema (36%), library (34%), and the botanic gardens (27%).

The current generation of older people has relatively low rates of use of electronic technologies such as personal computers, the Internet and electronic finance services.
    (a) One person or a group of related persons within a household, whose command over income is assumed to be shared. Income sharing is assumed to take place within married (registered or de facto) couples, and between parents and dependent children.



KEY STATISTICS AND INDICATORS FOR OLDER PEOPLE, National and State Summary



Units

Reference period

NSW

Vic.

Qld

SA

WA

Tas.

NT

ACT

Aust.

      POPULATION AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY
    Total population
    Aged 65 and over
%
Jun 1998
12.7
12.6
11.3
14.2
10.5
13.1
3.3
7.8
12.2
    Aged 85 and over
%
Jun 1998
1.2
1.3
1.1
1.5
1.1
1.3
0.2
0.6
1.2
    Aged 65 and over in 2051
%
1998
24.6
25.7
23
28.9
22.2
31.8
9.5
20.9
24.2
    Persons aged 65 and over
'000
Jun 1998
807.2
588.2
390.5
211.6
191.9
62.0
6.3
24.0
2,281.7
    Males
'000
Jun 1998
351.5
254.9
175
91.8
85.3
26.9
3.3
10.5
999.2
    Females
'000
Jun 1998
455.7
333.3
215.5
119.8
106.6
35.0
3.0
13.5
1,282.5
    Persons aged 85 and over
'000
Jun 1998
77.7
59.5
37.7
21.7
19.3
6.0
0.4
1.9
224.3
    Females
%
Jun 1998
70.4
69.6
67.8
70.2
68.9
69.8
59.3
69.9
69.6
    Indigenous population(a)
    Aged 65 and over
'000
Jun 1997
2.9
0.7
2.9
0.6
1.7
0.3
1.4
-
10.6
    Aged 65 and over
%
Jun 1997
2.5
3.1
2.6
2.6
2.8
2.1
2.6
-
2.6
    Persons aged 65 and over born overseas
'000
Aug 1996
202.3
170.6
88.9
63.8
71.6
10.0
2.3
8.5
618.0
    From a MESC
%
Aug 1996
39.2
32.4
57.8
47.9
55.8
62.6
46.7
42.4
43.3
    With Australian citizenship
%
Aug 1996
77.9
75.7
74.6
77.1
76.2
71.3
81.2
78.3
76.4

      LIVING ARRANGEMENTS AND CARE
    Males aged 65 and over
    Living with partner(b)
%
1998
76.7
77.1
74.3
79.9
74.8
74.4
76.4
75.7
76.4
    Living alone(b)
%
1998
17.1
15.3
18.9
15.2
17.4
21.5
11.8
22.3
17
    Widowed(c)
%
Apr 1997
15.2
13.5
15.3
16.0
13.1
*16.5
**19.9
**10.6
14.7
    Females aged 65 and over
    Living with partner(b)
%
1998
46.1
46.0
46.2
46.6
49.0
48.4
56.9
44.9
46.4
    Living alone(b)
%
1998
37.2
38.4
37.8
44.8
39.8
43.3
18.3
42.3
38.7
    Widowed(c)
%
Apr 1997
45.0
44.0
47.4
47.0
46.6
50.6
*57.8
44.8
45.6
    Persons aged 65 and over(c)
    Living in cared accommodation
'000
1998
61.4
42.9
29.0
13.6
14.4
4.2
n.p.
*1.2
166.8
    Living in cared accommodation
%
1998
7.6
7.3
7.5
6.4
7.5
6.8
n.p.
* 5.1
7.3
    Who are carers
'000
1998
149.8
107.3
60.5
37.5
30.5
10.9
n.p.
4.3
401

      HEALTH AND DISABILITY
    Persons aged 65 and over
    Who reported a recent illness(c)
%
1995
90.7
88.2
90.3
88.5
90.8
87.7
83.3
90.7
89.7
    Who reported recent use of medication(c)
%
1995
92.4
88.9
90.7

89.0
90.8
89.9

90.5
93.1
90.7
    With a disability(c)
%
1998
54.0
51.2
56.0
54.4
55.8
57.4
58.0
59.3
53.9
    Average Medicare services
    processed per person
no.

1997-98
22.5
21.6
21.3
19.7
19.9
18.3
12.9
19.5
21.4
    Life expectancy-males
    At birth
years
1997
75.4
75.8
75.4
75.7
75.7
74.8
70.0
77.1
75.6
    At age 65
years
1997
16.0
16.0
16.3
16.1
16.2
15.4
14.3
16.8
16.1
    Life expectancy-females
    At birth
years
1997
81.2
81.4
81.3
81.5
81.6
80.1
74.7
81.3
81.3
    At age 65
years
1997
19.7
19.7
20.0
19.9
20.0
19.0
16.7
19.8
19.8

          (a) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population estimates are high series projections-see Glossary.
          (b) Based on classifiable relationship in household responses.
          (c) Estimates for the NT exclude remote and sparsely settled areas.


KEY STATISTICS AND INDICATORS FOR OLDER PEOPLE, National and State Summary continued



Units

Reference period

NSW

Vic.

Qld

SA

WA

Tas.

NT

ACT

Aust.

      HEALTH AND DISABILITY CONTINUED
    Causes of death per 100,000 persons
    Males aged 65 and over
    Ischemic heart disease
rate
1998
1,226
1,151
1,347
1,314
1,137
1,272
942
908
1,226
    Cancer
rate
1998
1,407
1,460
1,462
1,369
1,385
1,476
1,277
1,271
1,425
    Stroke
rate
1998
458
398
428
424
397
504
274
344
429
    Females aged 65 and over
    Ischemic heart disease
rate
1998
955
894
1020
998
845
903
630
649
940
    Cancer
rate
1998
807
839
789
822
818
823
962
900
816
    Stroke
rate
1998
564
502
513
512
505
578
431
494
529

      ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT
    Persons receiving age pension(a)
%
1998
63.0
65.0
63.3
68.2
62.7
64.7
66.3
49.7
65.4
    Males(a)
'000
1998
204.8
154.9
102.7
58.3
48.8
16.0
2.0
4.6
613.6
    Females(a)(b)
'000
1998
367.3
276.1
176.2
103.1
87.8
29.1
3.0
9.2
1,069.0
    Persons aged 65 and over who were
    employed
    Males
%
1998
8.7
7.3
10.0
8.7
8.6
8.6
n.p.
13.5
8.7
    Females
%
1998
3.2
2.8
3.1
1.7
3.4
2.3
n.p.
*3.0
2.9

      PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT
    Persons aged 65 and over in private
    dwellings
    Retirement village(c)
'000
Aug 1996
18.8
10.2
11.3
5.0
7.1
0.9
-
0.7
54.0
    Other
'000
Aug 1996
651.1
460.1
305.9
170.2
147.3
50.0
4.8
17.9
1,807.4
    Total
'000
Aug 1996
669.9
470.2
317.2
175.2
154.5
50.8
4.8
18.6
1,861.4
    Persons aged 65 and over in private
    dwellings(d)
    Owner
%
Aug 1996
85.6
88.1
86.0
80.7
83.4
85.5
49.4
78.8
85.5
    Renter
%
Aug 1996
12.3
10.0
11.8
16.3
13.9
11.9
43.2
19.5
12.3
    Living in separate house
%
Aug 1996
77.5
81.4
83
75.8
75.8
84.9
63.7
77.8
79.3
    Living in semidetached/townhouse
%
Aug 1996
7.5
6.8
5.5
12.7
16.2
5.9
11.7
15.7
8.2
    Living in flat/unit/apartment
%
Aug 1996
13.6
11.2
9.6
10.9
6.9
8.6
15.2
6.3
11.3

      ACTIVITIES AND LIFESTYLE
    Persons aged 65 and over
    engaging in voluntary work
    Males
%
Jun 1995
13.2
16.8
15.5
20.3
15.9
16.8
*21.0
28.0
15.7
    Females
%
Jun 1995
15.6
20.8
19.6
25.3
19.0
15.3
*18.8
22.6
18.9
    Persons aged 65 and over attending cultural
    venues(e)
    National, State or local library
%
Apr 1999
32.5
32.8
31.6
37.9
36.0
41.0
23.0
41.2
33.5
    Botanic garden
%
Apr 1999
24.8
30.3
27.3
32.3
22.3
29.9
*14.0
36.0
27.4
    Cinema
%
Apr 1999
36.5
35.8
32.9
38.0
39.2
18.6
38.9
40.3
35.6
    Persons aged 65 and over with post-school
    qualifications(e)
    Males
%
Jul 1996
43.9
40.6
39.8
43.0
49.2
*35.2
n.p.
**61.5
42.7
    Females
%
Jul 1996
27.7
26.6
23.5
*13.9
*26.1
*33.0
n.p.
**35.6
25.7
    Persons aged 55 and over frequently using
    a home computer(e)(f)
%
1998
11.4
9.4
10.4
9.2
10.6
8.5
11.2
26.0
10.6

          (a) Australian total includes pension recipients not resident in Australia.
          (b) Includes eligible recipients aged less than 65 years.
          (c) Self-care accommodation only.
          (d) Excluding self-care accommodation in retirement villages.
          (e) Estimates for the NT exclude remote and sparsely settled areas.
          (f) Once a week or more.



KEY STATISTICS AND INDICATORS FOR OLDER PEOPLE, Annual Comparisons


Units
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997

      POPULATION AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY
    Total population
    Aged 65 and over
%
10.7
10.8
11.0
11.1
11.3
11.5
11.6
11.8
11.9
12.0
12.1
    Aged 85 and over
%
0.8
0.8
0.9
0.9
0.9
0.9
1.0
1.0
1.1
1.1
1.2
    Persons aged 65 and over
'000
1,739
1,791
1,847
1,893
1,951
2,004
2,056
2,106
2,151
2,203
2,244
    Males
'000
736
760
786
809
836
862
887
911
934
959
980
    Females
'000
1,003
1,032
1,060
1,085
1,114
1,142
1,169
1,194
1,217
1,244
1,264
    Persons aged 85 and over
'000
133
138
143
147
154
163
172
181
191
202
213
    Females
%
72.8
72.5
72.1
71.8
71.3
70.9
70.8
70.5
70.3
70.1
70
    Indigenous population(a)
    Aged 65 and over
'000
6.6
6.7
6.8
6.9
10.0
9.5
9.3
9.2
9.3
10.1
10.6
    Aged 65 and over
%
2.6
2.6
2.5
2.5
2.9
2.7
2.6
2.5
2.5
2.6
2.6

      LIVING ARRANGEMENTS AND CARE
    Males aged 65 and over
    Living with partner(b)
%
75.1
76.3
76.5
76.9
76.1
75.5
75.3
76
76.4
75.3
75.1
    Living alone(b)
%
16.4
16.6
15.8
16
16.4
17.2
18.5
16.9
16.7
17.9
19.2
    Widowed
%
14.3
14.2
14
13.8
13.6
13.7
13.8
13.9
14.0
14.0
13.9
    Females aged 65 and over
    Living with partner(b)
%
42.4
43.2
44.1
44
44.6
44.6
44.5
46
45.7
45.5
45.0
    Living alone(b)
%
40.6
39.7
38.6
39.1
39.4
38.9
41.0
39.4
39.4
39.7
40.1
    Widowed
%
48.1
47.6
47.1
46.6
45.4
45.9
46.3
46.7
47.1
47.4
47.1

      HEALTH AND DISABILITY
    Average Medicare services
    processed per person aged 65 and
    over
no.
14.6
14.8
15.2
15.3
15.4
16.4
17.9
18.8
19.6
20.5
20.9
    Life expectancy-males
    At birth
years
73.1
73.1
73.3
73.9
74.4
74.5
75.0
75.0
75.0
75.2
75.6
    At age 65
years
14.7
14.8
14.7
15.2
15.5
15.4
15.7
15.7
15.7
15.8
16.1
    Life expectancy-females
    At birth
years
79.5
79.5
79.6
80.1
80.4
80.4
80.9
80.9
80.8
81.1
81.3
    At age 65
years
18.7
18.7
18.7
19
19.3
19.2
19.5
19.7
19.5
19.6
19.8
    Causes of death per 100,000 people
    Males aged 65 and over
    Ischemic heart disease
rate
1,796
1,733
1,755
1,624
1,554
1,554
1,460
1,468
1,390
1,362
1,286
    Cancer
rate
1,428
1,465
1,460
1,444
1,430
1,467
1,459
1,494
1,474
1,489
1,420
    Stroke
rate
581
571
554
502
496
494
479
510
485
483
438
    Females aged 65 and over
    Ischemic heart disease
rate
1,274
1,224
1,256
1,189
1,130
1,171
1,068
1,106
1,040
1,025
1,005
    Cancer
rate
783
802
800
798
825
816
833
828
842
843
828
    Stroke
rate
692
664
659
629
590
582
591
602
591
579
543

      ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT
    Persons receiving age pension(c)
%
62.7
61.5
60.2
59.2
59.3
61
62.8
64.3
63
62.7
64.4
    Males(c)
'000
408
405
403
405
418
448
481
514
545
570
598
    Females(c)(d)
'000
915
924
931
936
958
998
1,035
1,068
1,034
1,033
1,082
    Persons aged 65 and over who were
    employed
    Males
%
8.4
8.5
8.4
8.3
9.0
9.2
8.2
9.0
9.1
9.1
9.8
    Females
%
2.6
2.5
2.2
2.3
2.4
2.1
2.4
2.2
2.5
2.7
2.5

          (a) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population estimates from 1987 to 1990 have been benchmarked to the 1991 Census. From 1991 to 1996,
          estimates have been benchmarked to the 1996 Census. Data for 1997 are high series projections-see Glossary.

          (b) Based on classifiable relationship in household responses.
          (c) Includes pension recipients not resident in Australia.
          (d) Includes eligible recipients aged less than 65 years.





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