4914.0.55.001 - Newsletter: Age Matters, Sep 2006  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/10/2006   
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Australian Social Trends 2006
The 2006 Australian Social Trends (cat.no 4102.0) released on the 20 July included many articles which would be of interest to Age Matters readers and in particular the following three articles on People in their 50's: then and now, Pace of ageing: Australia and Japan, and Mortality trends of people aged 50 years and over.

People in their 50's: then and now
People in their 50's have been identified as a 'population of significance' in government policies which address the challenges posed by an ageing population. This article compares the standard age group of those aged 50-59 years of 2001 with their predecessors of 1981.

Comparisons are made on their demographic characteristics (including the numbers and proportion of the total population this group represented in 1981 and 2001), life expectancy, family characteristics, housing, education, working life and income.

The article clearly illustrates there are differences and that these differences occurred in only twenty years. However it should be understood that those who were in their 50's in 1981 were born before and during the Great Depression compared with those in their 50's in 2001 who were born during World War 2 or as the early baby boomers.

Pace of ageing: Australia and Japan
This article provides a degree of perspective to the ageing debate occurring in Australia by providing a comparison with other countries – mainly Japan. It considers changes that have occurred in the last fifty years since 1955 and population projections to 2050 and focusses on the pace at which structural ageing has and will occur.

After providing some relevant demographic data, the article then explores the drivers of ageing – fertility and longevity (life expectancy) and the impact of overseas migration.

The comparison of the impact of migration on ageing in Australia (a moderate level migration country) with Japan which received very little overseas migration is also included and of interest. The article speculates on the current age structure of Australia’s had there been no migration between 1945 and 2000.

In addition to providing a comparative perspective to Australia’s current ageing situation –this article previews a future scenario for Australia's ageing based on the Japanese experience.

Mortality trends of people aged 50 years and over
This article examines the life expectancy of the population aged 50 years and over in the last 30 years based on the 1970-72 and 2002-04 life tables.
Life tables are statistical models used to show the levels of mortality of a population at different ages. The life tables depict the mortality experience of a hypothetical group of new born babies throughout their entire lifetime and is based on the assumption this group is subject age specific mortality rates of the three year reference period on which the tables are based.

The article analyses which sub groups of the over 50's population have contributed to the improved life expectancy that has occurred in Australia in this period. It also assesses the contribution on a gender basis with some interesting findings. As well, there are some comparisons of the Health Adjusted Life Expectancy (HALE) measures with selected countries.

Life expectancy is linked to deaths rates and death rates are linked to specific causes of death. This article explores the changes in the deaths dates from selected major underlying causes of death that have occurred between 1970-02 and 2002-04.

The article concludes with some projections on future mortality. These future mortality projections along with fertility and migration are the assumptions that underpin the ABS population projections. The medium series projection to 2051 assumes life expectancy is expected to continue to increase however, there is an expectation that the rate at which this increase occurs will be halved.