Where and how do Australia's Older People live?

17 April 2013 | CO/74

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released Where and how do Australia’s Older People live? the latest in a number of analytical articles based on 2011 Census data.

‘Where and how do Australia’s Older People live?’ focusses on the 14 per cent of Australians (3.1 million people) aged 65 years and over in 2011 – where they lived and the activities they participated in, including paid work and caring for children.

The article reveals that around 37 per cent of people aged 65 and over engaged in either paid or voluntary work or provided unpaid child care or care for a person with a disability, long term illness or a problem related to old age.

Over half of those aged 65-69 years (55 per cent), engaged in at least one of these activities and 42 per cent of those aged 70-74 years. Generally, involvement in these activities declined with age, with seven per cent of people aged 90 years and over, participating in one or more of the these activities.

Census Director, Sue Taylor, said that according to the 2011 Census, 333,000 people over the age of 65 were in the labour force in 2011 with most of these being employed.

“Census results show a higher proportion of men over 65 were in the labour force (17 per cent) than women of this age (eight per cent), Ms Taylor said.

“With increasing age, there was a steady decline in the proportion of people employed and for those aged 80 years and over, less than two per cent were employed.”

Older Australians are also a particularly important source of volunteers as they are highly committed and bring with them life experience and valuable skills. The Census found that nearly one quarter (24 per cent) of both 65-69 year olds and of 70-74 year olds spent time doing voluntary work.

In the two weeks prior to Census night in August 2011, 12 per cent of older people (320,100) provided unpaid care or assistance with daily activities to another person because of their disability, long term illness or problems related to old age.

The article also found that in 2011, over half of all people aged 65 and over lived in a private dwelling with their spouse or partner (56 per cent). Another quarter of older Australians lived alone and a further eight per cent lived with other relatives, such as their children.

Further information is available from Where and how do Australia’s Older People live? This is one of the series of articles to be progressively released in Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census (cat. no. 2071.0).

The series and data from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing are free and available on the ABS website. Visit www.abs.gov.au/census.