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Tasmania experienced the largest increase in median age over the last 20 years, increasing by 7.8 years from 32.1 years in 1990 to 39.9 years in 2010. The emigration of younger adults from Tasmania to the Australian mainland has contributed to this accelerated ageing, see Migration, Australia (cat. no. 3412.0).
Between 30 June 1990 and 30 June 2010, the proportion of Australia's population aged 15-64 years has remained relatively stable, increasing from 66.9% to 67.5% of the total population. The proportion of people aged 65 years and over has increased from 11.1% to 13.6%. During the same period, the proportion of population aged 85 years and over has more than doubled from 0.9% of the population at 30 June 1990 to 1.8% of the total population at 30 June 2010. The proportion aged under 15 years decreased from 22.0% to 18.9%.
The age with the largest number of people in Australia at 30 June 2010 was 25 years with 340,000 people. However, the modal age for Tasmania and South Australia is 49 years, which corresponds to the emigration of younger adults from these states for education and employment.
CHILDREN (UNDER 15 YEARS OF AGE)
The number of children aged 0-14 years in the population increased by 44,600 in the 12 months to 30 June 2010. The number of children aged 0-4 years increased by 38,500, 5-9 increased by 7,800 and 10-14 decreased by 1,700.
In the year ended 30 June 2010, Western Australia recorded the largest percentage increase (1.6%) in the number of children aged 0-14 years. Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory recorded positive growth of 1.6%, as did Victoria (1.0%), New South Wales and South Australia (both 0.7%) and the Northern Territory (0.2%). Tasmania recorded a decrease of 0.1%.
Between 30 June 1990 and 30 June 2010, the proportion of children aged 0-14 years decreased by 3.1 percentage points from 22.0% to 18.9%.
WORKING AGE POPULATION (AGED 15-64 YEARS)
The number of people aged 15-64 years (working age population) increased by 1.6% (or 237,700 persons) in the year ended 30 June 2010. Western Australia (2.1%), Victoria and Queensland (1.8%) and the Northern Territory (1.6%) each recorded growth rates for 15-64 year olds higher than or equal to the national average. The Australian Capital Territory (1.5%), New South Wales (1.4%), South Australia (1.1%), and Tasmania (0.7%) each recorded growth rates for 15-64 year olds lower than the national average.
During the 20 years between 30 June 1990 and 30 June 2010, the proportion of population aged 15-64 years increased from 66.9% to 67.6%.
In the year ended 30 June 2010, there were 292,000 young people aged 15 who entered the working age population while 204,600 people turned 65 years and left the working age population.
However, this excess of 15 year olds over 65 year olds is projected to decline over the next decade. The major causes for this decline are: (1) The first cohort of the baby boomers (those born in 1946) will reach the age of 65 years in 2011, leaving the working age population; (2) The number of 15 year olds entering the working age population will decline due to the fall in fertility and the number of births recorded through the 1990s.
In the 12 months to 30 June 2010, the number of people aged 65 years and over in Australia increased by 94,800 people, representing a 3.3% increase. The proportion of the population aged 65 years and over increased from 11.1% to 13.5% between 30 June 1990 and 30 June 2010.
All states and territories experienced growth in their populations aged 65 years and over in the year ended 30 June 2010. The Northern Territory (7.2%), the Australian Capital Territory (4.2%), Queensland (4.0%) and Western Australia (3.6%) experienced the largest increase in the numbers of persons aged 65 years and over.
Aged 85 years and over
In the 12 months to 30 June 2010, the number of people aged 85 years and over increased by 23,100 people (6.1%) to reach 398,200. Over the past two decades, the number of elderly people increased by 170.6%, compared with a total population growth of 30.9% over the same period. Increased life expectancy for both males and females has contributed to this rise. There were almost twice as many females (260,200) than males (138,100) in this age group at 30 June 2010 which reflects the higher life expectancy at birth for females compared with males.
In the year ended June 2010, the largest increases in the number of people aged 85 years and over occurred in the Australian Capital Territory (8.7%), followed by New South Wales and Victoria (6.3%), Queensland (6.2%), Northern Territory (6.0%), Western Australia (5.9%), South Australia (5.4%) and Tasmania (4.7%).
Aged 100 years and over
In the 12 months to 30 June 2010, the number of people aged 100 years and over increased by 580 people (18.2%) to reach 3,700. Over the past two decades, the number of centenarians increased by 185%, compared with a total population growth of 30.9% over the same period. Increased life expectancy for both males and females has contributed to this rise. There were more than three times as many females (2,900) than males (800) in this age group at 30 June 2010 which reflects the higher life expectancy at birth for females compared with males.
The sex ratio relates to the number of males per 100 females in a population or sub population. The sex ratio at birth is approximately 105 males per 100 females. Higher male mortality rates at younger ages result in the ratio approaching 100 for the 30-64 years age group. Net Overseas Migration can also influence the sex ratio, especially in the younger working ages where there is often a greater proportion of male migrants. Above age 65, the sex ratio reduces markedly due to the impact of higher male mortality on this population group.
At 30 June 2010, the sex ratio of the total population for Australia was 99.2 males per 100 females. At age 0, the sex ratio for Australia in 2010 was 105.3 males per 100 females. This excess of males in the earlier years contrasts with the opposite situation in the older years and for the total population which can be attributed to female longevity.
Across the states and territories for 30 June 2010, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory all had lower numbers of males than females. Tasmania had the lowest sex ratio, with 97.4 males per 100 females. Western Australia and the Northern Territory had an excess of males compared with females. The Northern Territory had the highest sex ratio with 107.6 males per 100 females.
Population ageing is a notable demographic characteristic of most developed countries. It is caused by sustained low fertility which results in proportionately fewer children. Population ageing is also caused by increasing life expectancy which results in proportionately more elderly people. In countries such as Japan, Italy, Greece, Sweden and Hong Kong, the number of people aged 65 years and over already exceeds the number of children aged 0-14 years. In Australia, based on the latest Series B population projections, the number of people aged 65 years and over is projected to exceed the number of children aged 0-14 years around the year 2025. For more information, see Population Projections, Australia, 2006 to 2101 (cat. no. 3222.0).
According to United Nations projections, all countries selected for analysis, except for Sweden, are projected to experience decreases in the proportion of children aged 0-14 years in their populations between 2010 and 2015. In most of these countries, the decrease in children aged 0-14 years is projected to be accompanied by increases in the proportions of people aged 15-64 years or people aged 65 years and over. Countries like Japan and Singapore are projected to experience proportional declines in their populations aged 0-14 years and 15-64 years, and are projected to experience large proportional increases in their population aged 65 years and over.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics projections, the proportion of children in the Australian population is projected to decline by 1.3 percentage points between 2010 and 2015, from 18.9% to 17.6%, while the proportion of people aged 15-64 years is projected to decline by 1.5 percentage points, from 67.5% to 66.0%. The proportion of people aged 65 years and over is projected to increase by 2.8 percentage points from 13.6% to 16.4%.
In 2010, the age structure of Australia's population was similar to that of New Zealand and the United States of America. Generally, the European countries and Japan had smaller proportions of children and higher proportions of older people than Australia. In contrast, other countries in Asia tended to have proportionally more children and far fewer older people, generally reflecting considerably higher fertility rates and lower life expectancies at birth than those experienced in Australia.
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