Population aged over 85 to double in the next 25 years


The number of Australians aged 85 years and over is projected to double by 2042, increasing to over 1 million people according to the latest population projections released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Population projections are based on assumptions of future levels of fertility, life expectancy and migration, which are guided by recent population trends.

Anthony Grubb, Director of Demography at the ABS, said: "By 2042, people aged 85 years or over could make up 3 per cent of Australia's population, compared to only 2 per cent in 2017. The narrowing gap in the life expectancy of men and women could see the proportion of men in this older age group increase from 38 per cent to 42 per cent in 2066 under medium assumptions.

"The ageing of Australia's population as a result of sustained low fertility, combined with increasing life expectancy is likely to continue with the number of people aged 65 years and over also projected to nearly double, from 3.8 million people in 2017 to between 6.4 million and 6.7 million people in 2042."

With Australia's population projected to increase to between 32 and 37 million people by 2042, the median age of the population would increase by between 1.0 and 3.6 years. In 2017, Australia's median age was 37.2 years old; by 2042 it could be 39.3 years and by 2066 it could be 40.7 years.

The dependency ratio (numbers of persons per 100 aged outside the traditional working age range of 15 to 64) would increase from 52 in 2017 to 58 by 2042 under medium assumptions.

Further information is available in Population Projections, Australia, 2017 (base) to 2066 (cat. no. 3222.0) available for free download from the ABS website.

Media notes

  • Population projections are not intended as forecasts or predictions, but are illustrations of growth and change in the population that would occur if assumptions made about future demographic trends were to prevail over the projection period.
  • Capital cities mentioned in this release are Greater Capital City Statistical Areas, as defined in the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 1 - Main Structure and Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (cat. no. 1270.0.55.001).
  • When reporting ABS data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.
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