Twenty years of population change

Statistics about the population and components of change (births, deaths, migration) for Australia and its states and territories

Released
17/12/2020

Median age

The median age (the age at which half the population is older and half is younger) of the Australian population has increased from 35 years at 30 June 2000 to 38 years at 30 June 2020.

Tasmania had the largest increase in median age over the last 20 years, increasing from 37 years in 2000 to 42 years in 2020. Interstate migration of younger adults from Tasmania to the Australian mainland has contributed to this accelerated ageing. For further information, see Migration, Australia.

At 30 June 2020, Tasmania had the highest median age of all the states and territories (42 years), followed by South Australia (40 years). The Northern Territory had the lowest median age (34 years), followed by the Australian Capital Territory (36 years).

(a) The age at which half the population is older and half younger.

Ageing population

Like most developed countries, Australia's population is ageing as a result of sustained low fertility and increasing life expectancy. This has resulted in proportionally fewer children (under 15 years of age) in the population and a larger proportion of people aged 65 and over.

Children (aged 0–14 years)

In the 20 years between 2000 and 2020, the proportion of children decreased from 20.7% to 18.6% of the total population.

In the year ending 30 June 2020, the number of children increased by 0.8% (40,000 people) compared with an increase of 1.1% (49,900 people) in the previous year. Over this period, the population of 0-4 year-olds decreased by 10,700 (0.7%), 5-9 year-olds increased by 10,500 (0.6%), and those aged from 10 to 14 years increased by 40,300 (2.6%).

In the year ending 30 June 2020, the Australian Capital Territory had the largest proportional increase in the number of children (1.9%), followed by Victoria (1.1%), Western Australia (1.0%), Queensland (0.9%) and New South Wales (0.7%). The Northern Territory was the only state or territory with a proportional decrease (0.6%).

Working-age population (aged 15–64 years)

At 30 June 2000, two out of three people were aged from 15 to 64 years – usually referred to as the working-age population. This proportion increased to a high of 67.5% in 2009, before declining to 65.1% by 30 June 2020.

Over the 20 years to 30 June 2020, the working-age population grew by 31.4%, slower than the growth of the remaining population (42.2%) The slower growth in the working-ages has occurred since 2010.

Over the five years to 30 June 2020, the working-age population grew by 6.1%, compared to 11.4% for the remainder. The main contributor to the increased growth of the non-working-ages was the growth in the population aged 65 and over.

In the year ending 30 June 2020, the Australian working-age population increased by 0.8% (or 135,700 persons). During this period, the working-age population in Queensland grew by 1.2%, higher than the national growth rate. In contrast, the population of 15-64 year-olds declined in the Northern Territory by 0.7%.

In the year ending 30 June 2020, there were 296,200 young people aged 15 years who entered the working-age population while 263,200 people turned 65 years and left that population.

People aged 65 years and over

Over the 20 years between 2000 and 2020, the proportion of the population aged 65 years and over increased from 12.4% to 16.3%. This group is projected to increase more rapidly over the next decade, as further cohorts of baby boomers (those born between the years 1946 and 1964) turn 65. By the end of the 2020 calendar year, ten of these birth-year cohorts will have reached age 65 and there are nine remaining.

In the year ending 30 June 2020, the population aged 65 years and over increased by 145,600 people (or 3.6%).

In the year ending 30 June 2020, the population aged 65 years and over grew in all states and territories. The largest proportional increase in this group was in the Northern Territory (6.4%), followed by Western Australia (4.6%) and Queensland (4.0%).

People aged 85 years and over

Over the past two decades, the population aged 85 years and over increased by 110%, compared with the total population growth of 35%.

In the year ending 30 June 2020, the population aged 85 years and over increased by 12,400 people (2.4%) to reach 527,400. There were more females (323,200) than males (204,200) in this age group, which reflects the higher life expectancy for females.

Over the same period, the largest proportional increases of people aged 85 years and over occurred in the Northern Territory (5.4%), followed by Western Australia (4.6%), Australian Capital Territory (3.2%), Queensland (2.9%), New South Wales (2.2%), Tasmania (2.1%), Victoria (2.0%) and South Australia (1.3%).

Sex ratios

The sex ratio at birth is approximately 106 males per 100 females. Higher male mortality rates at younger ages result in the ratio approaching 100 by the age of 30. Overseas migration can influence the sex ratio, especially in the working ages where there has historically been a greater proportion of male migrants. Above age 75, the sex ratio reduces markedly due to the impact of higher male mortality in this population group.
 

(a) Number of males per 100 females

At 30 June 2020, the sex ratio of the total population of Australia was 98.3 males per 100 females. At age 0, the sex ratio for Australia at 30 June 2020 was 106.2 males per 100 females. The larger amount of males at younger ages contrasts with the opposite situation in the older ages, which is attributed to female longevity.

At 30 June 2020, the Northern Territory had the highest sex ratio out of the states and territories at 105.5, followed by Western Australia (99.5), New South Wales (98.5), Victoria (98.1),Tasmania (97.9), Queensland (97.7%), the Australian Capital Territory (97.6), and South Australia had the lowest ratio at 97.5.

(a) Number of males per 100 females