4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1999  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/06/1999   
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June 24, 1999
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

ABS releases latest social trends in Australia

The annual snapshot of Australian society released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics presents a complex and revealing picture of the way we are and how we are set for on-going social change into the next century.

Australian Social Trends 1999
reports that:

Baby-boomers projected to have strong impact on ageing trend: As the youngest of the baby-boom generation turn 65 in 2031, the proportion of the population aged 65 and over is projected to reach between 21% and 22%, up from 12% in 1997.

Our standard working week is disappearing: The proportion of employed people working 35-44 hours a week fell from 42% to 36% between 1988 and 1998. At the same time, the proportions who worked longer hours and shorter hours both increased.

Men and women in the job market: In September 1998, among people aged 15-64 years not fully employed, there were more women than men wanting work - 1.2 million women compared to 909,000 men. However, among those wanting work, a lower proportion of women were actively looking for work. With many in part-time jobs underemployment is an issue.

Older jobseekers find it harder in the marketplace: Older jobseekers (aged 45-59) are less successful in obtaining work than younger jobseekers. Jobs they do find are more likely to be part-time or casual, and low-paid.

Older people spend a lot of time alone: In 1997, 32% of people aged 65 years and over lived alone. On average, these people spent nearly 12 and a half hours per day (79% of their waking time) alone.

Mum still looks after the children when both parents work: In families where both parents worked full-time, mothers spent about twice as much time as fathers on child care in 1997 (about 4 hours for mothers and 2 hours for fathers). Women also did more of the domestic work, even when they were working similar hours to their partners.

Almost half of Australians gamble: Of adults (18 years and over) surveyed in 1996/97 almost half (46%) had participated in some form of legalised gambling in the previous week.

Information technology comes home: The use of information technology in the home is rapidly increasing. Between 1994 and 1998 the proportion of all households with a computer rose from 29% to 47%. Between 1996 and 1998 the proportion with access to the internet rose from 4% to 19%.

We love to watch television in our free time: In 1997, Australians enjoyed an average of over five hours of free time per day. The most popular free-time activities were watching TV and videos; socialising and talking; listening to the radio and reading.

Our inner cities are home to more people: Inner cities are becoming more popular places to live and have appeal for relatively young, financially advantaged adults seeking to live close to work and entertainment.

Further details are in Australian Social Trends 1999 (cat. no. 4102.0) available from ABS bookshops in capital cities. More information about this publication is available from this site.

ATTENTION: Feature Editors, Program Producers


Australian Social Trends contains a wealth of excellent feature material that draws on the latest sources of social, labour and demographic data from the ABS and other official sources and is a good ongoing source of stories. This year's edition presents fresh analysis on current social issues including:

Our ageing population - discusses past and projected population trends (in particular, the post-war baby-boom generation), and possible implications for Australian society.

Island populations
- presents demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the populations of 15 of Australia's islands, such as the Cocos (Keeling), Torres Strait, Norfolk and Flinders Islands.

Spending time alone
- looks at how much time people in different age groups spend alone and which groups of people are at most risk of social isolation.

Health of older people
- gives a range of health indicators including health-related risk factors, illness, disability status, and mortality rates.

Health and socio-economic disadvantage of area

- discusses prevalence in 1995, the actions people took in relation to their asthma, smoking and asthma, and trends in mortality.

Mental health
- examines the prevalence of the more common mental disorders, by sex and age, in 1997.

Educational profile of Australians
-provides a picture of the levels and fields of study of post-school educational qualifications held by people aged 15 and over, using 1996 Census data.

Destination of school leavers
-looks at the choices made by school leavers: that is, whether to find a job, continue their studies, or both.

Educating and training Australia's workers
- presents information about the involvement in, and access to, education and training courses by wage and salary earners.

Income sharing and income distribution
- shows how income inequality varies, depending on which assumptions are made about income sharing.

Lower income working families
- examines basic characteristics of low income working families, including labour force status, occupation, family size and age.

Economic resources of older Australians
- looks at income of Australians aged 65 years and over.

Expenditure on gambling
- examines the recent growth in legalised gambling in Australia, including differences in State and Territory patterns of expenditure and participation.

First home buyers
- examines the trends in home ownership among young Australians and their current housing choices.

Home care, hostel and nursing homes
- looks at the assistance received by the majority of people aged 65 years or more who live in private dwellings. The small proportion who live in hostels or nursing homes are also examined.

Rental investors
- investigates who invests in what type of residential rental properties.

Inner city residential development
- gives an overview of housing trends in the inner city areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, using 1986 and 1996 Census information.

How Australians use their free time
- examines some of the factors, such as life-cycle stage and labour force status, that influence how much free time we have and how we use it.

Sporting Australians
-examines the most popular sports played by children and adults. It also examines other involvements (such as coaching and refereeing, or attending matches as a spectator).

There are also 14 national and State summary tables which present over 300 social indicators to show trends over time and comparisons between States and Territories on a range of different social issues. A set of International tables shows where Australia stands in relation to our nearest neighbours and trading partners.