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By the year 2031, Queensland has the prospect of one in five people being aged 65 years or more, according to the ABS's Series II projections. This population projection has serious implications for government outlays on pensions and health care. It has become a priority issue for the commonwealth and state governments and for all policy makers because the age structure and 'ageing' of the population impacts on the current and future well-being of the nation.
On census night, 7 August 2001, there were 3,522,000 persons in Australia who reported Queensland as their state of usual residence. Of these, 21.6% were children (aged less than 15 years), 66.7% were of working age (aged between 15 and 64 years) and the remaining 11.7% were of retirement age (aged 65 years and over).
Of the 112,575 Indigenous persons residing in Queensland, 2.7% were aged 65 years and over, compared with 11.7% of the total Queensland population. The lower proportion of older Indigenous people reflects both their higher fertility and lower life expectancy.
Of the total population, females represented 54.9% of the 'older persons' group (aged 65 years and over), which equates to 122 females for every 100 males. However, females only represent 48.7% of children aged 0-14 years, equating to 95 females for every 100 males.
The larger proportion of women in the older persons group is attributable to the fact that, on average, women live longer than men. Females born in 1999 - 2001 can expect to live to 82.3 years, compared to males who can expect to live to 76.9 years. Since 1981, life expectancy at birth has increased by almost 4 years for females and almost 6 years for males. Refer to Demography Queensland (cat. no. 3311.3) for more information.
CAUSES OF AN AGEING POPULATION
'Population Composition: Regional Population Ageing' in Australian Social Trends 2002 (cat. no. 4102.0) suggests that an ageing population may be the result of two different types of ageing: numerical and structural. Numerical ageing of the population is the increase in the actual numbers of aged persons. An increase in the proportion of older persons is structural ageing.
Declining mortality is the primary cause of numerical ageing. As life expectancy increases and people live longer, the number of older persons increases. Numerical ageing of the population is evident, for example, when periods of high fertility, such as occurred in the post World War II baby boom (1946-65), are coupled with declining mortality.
LIFE EXPECTANCY QUEENSLAND, MALES AND FEMALES
Source: Australian Demographic Trends (cat. no. 3102.0); Deaths, Australia (cat. no. 3302.0);
Demography, Queensland (cat. no. 3311.3).
Declining fertility leading to a relatively small proportion of young people in a population compared with older people is the primary cause of structural ageing.
TOTAL FERTILITY RATES (a)
In line with the trend for Australia, Queensland's population is ageing numerically (the increase in the number of people aged 65 years and over) and structurally (the increase in the proportion of people aged 65 years and over). While the total population of Queensland increased by 99.6% over the 30 years to 2001, the number of persons aged 65 years and over increased by 167.8%.
(a) Births per woman.
Source: Births, Australia (cat. no. 3301.0).
The Queensland population's structural ageing is shown clearly in the large increase in the proportion of older persons. In 1971, 8.7% of the Queensland population was aged 65 years and over, in 2001 the proportion had increased to 11.7%. Population projections suggest that the proportion will increase to 20.8% by 2031.
The age structure within this older population is also changing. While in 1971, 6.2% of older persons were aged 85 years and over, by 2001 this proportion increased to 10.7%, and is projected to reach 11.8% in 2031.
AGE STRUCTURE OF THE QUEENSLAND POPULATION: 1971, 2001 and 2031
Source: Population Projections, Australia (cat. no. 3222.0); ABS data available on request,
2001 Census of Population and Housing.
However, Queensland's structural ageing is not as pronounced as most other states or territories. At the time of the 1971 census, Queensland had the highest proportion aged 65 years and over, with 8.7%. Over the 30 years to 2001, while the proportion of people aged 65 years and over in Australia increased by 4.3 percentage points, Queensland's proportion of older persons increased by only 3 percentage points to 11.7%, and now ranks fifth behind South Australia (14.7%), Tasmania (13.9%), New South Wales (13.1%) and Victoria (13.1%).
This slower ageing process may be attributable to Queensland's fertility rate and interstate migration. Only one year in the last 30 has Queensland's fertility rate not been higher than the Australian rate. In 2001 the Queensland rate was 1.795, higher than the Australian rate of 1.726.
In 2001, 102,500 persons (with a median age of 29.3 years) moved to Queensland from other states and territories (compared with Queensland's median age of 35.0 years). In the same year, 80,500 persons left Queensland to take up residence in other states and territories. This resulted in a net migration gain of 22,000.
Variations in population age structure exist across the different geographic regions of Queensland. Older persons live in 'Major Urban' centres in similar proportions to the Queensland population as a whole (approximately 60%). However, they are more likely to live in 'Other Urban' centres (26.2% compared with 23.8%) and less likely to live in the 'Rural Balance' (areas with a population of less than 200) (10.3% compared with 13.6%), than the total Queensland population.
For information on geographical categories including those used in this article see Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), 2001.
Regional population ageing has implications for the provision and distribution of funding for public services. For example, regions with a large number of older persons may have a greater need for specialised health services, home help, public transport, and smaller housing as well as reduced needs for schools and child care facilities than regions with a younger population.
PROPORTION OF PERSONS AGED 65 AND OVER, QUEENSLAND STATISTICAL DIVISIONS, 2001
(a) PROPORTION OF PERSONS AGED 65 AND OVER, QUEENSLAND STATISTICAL DIVISIONS, 2001
Older people in Queensland are more likely to live in urbanised areas. Populations showing the highest proportions of persons aged 65 years and over are to be found in 'Bounded Localities' (large rural centres with populations of between 200 and 999), where they account for 13.9% of residents, in contrast with the Queensland figure of 11.7%.
'Other Urban' centres (with populations between 1,000 and 99,999) have similar proportions of older persons, who account for 13.6% of residents.
Only 9.4% of the population residing in the 'Rural Balance' of Queensland (made up of areas with populations of less than 200) are aged 65 years or over.
When calculated in total, the proportion of older persons in the population of Queensland's 'Major Urban' areas is less pronounced (12.5%) than other urbanised areas.
Queensland has four 'Major Urban' centres. The largest is the capital city of Brisbane with approximately 1,485,000 residents. The urban centres of Gold Coast-Tweed Heads (Gold Coast Part), Sunshine Coast and Townsville-Thuringowa have approximately 340,000, 155,000 and 115,000 residents respectively. Persons aged 65 years or over account for only 8.9% of Townsville-Thuringowa's population and 10.8% of Brisbane's. In contrast, they account for 17.5% of the Sunshine Coast's population and 14.7% of the population of Gold Coast-Tweed Heads (Gold Coast Part).
The coastal urban centres of Gold Coast-Tweed Heads (Gold Coast Part) and Sunshine Coast may be especially attractive to older people because they also provide relatively easy access to the capital city and all its amenities. This distribution of older persons may also be a reflection of the attraction Brisbane and Townsville-Thuringowa have for younger people because of the availability of educational and employment opportunities as well as the presence of major defence force bases.
Many non-metropolitan regions, including many coastal areas, may lose young and working-age persons to metropolitan centres. They also retain a higher proportion of older residents because of a comparatively lower cost of living. The lack of employment opportunities is usually not an obstacle.
OLDEST AND YOUNGEST POPULATIONS(a), TOP 10 STATISTICAL LOCAL AREAS(b), QUEENSLAND, 2001
The Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) containing the highest concentration of people aged 65 years and over in 2001 were mainly located in coastal areas of south-east Queensland, specifically, around the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast. Bribie Island contained the oldest population in Australia, with 29.6% of its residents aged 65 years and over, and a median age of 52.0 years, more than 15 years above the median age for Queensland. Chermside and Upper Mount Gravatt, both part of Brisbane City, were the only non-coastal locations to rank in the top ten. However, they had a relatively younger median age (40.0 and 39.0 years respectively) due to the slightly larger proportion of the population in the younger working age group (20-34 years), compared with other SLAs in the top ten.
On 13 October 2003, the ABS released a new publication on Ageing, Census of Population and Housing: Ageing in Australia, 2001 (cat. no. 2048.0). This publication draws on 2001 Census data and examines the characteristics of Australia's ageing population. Topics covered include population, cultural diversity, living arrangements, work and economic environment, transport, education and the use of computers and the
In addition, the first issue of a quarterly ABS newsletter called Age Matters was released in December 2002. For more information contact Maryann Wood of the National Ageing Statistics Unit, in the Queensland Office of the ABS, on (07) 3222 6206, email: email@example.com.
For further information on the National Ageing Statistics Unit, and for ageing data please refer to the Ageing Statistics theme page.
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