1304.5 - Stats Talk WA (Newsletter), Aug 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/11/2003   
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Western Australia's Baby Boomers: A Profile of Persons Born 1946 - 1965

Col Nagle, Regional Director, ABS WA, and the Hon. Sheila McHale at the launch of the Baby Boomer Publication

A statistical snapshot of Western Australia's 557,700 baby boomers, their lifestyle, habits, health and diversity has been compiled by the ABS to address the changing needs of the state's ageing population. At the official launch of the publication Western Australia's Baby Boomers: A Profile of Persons Born 1946 - 1965, Seniors Minister, the Honourable Sheila McHale said baby boomers were challenging stereotypical views the community had about people in their middle to senior years. "The baby boomer cohort represents a diverse and complex sector with the youngest still rearing children and chasing careers and the oldest either retired or thinking about retirement," Ms McHale said. "They are predominantly consumer savvy, better educated, healthier, wealthier, more technologically advanced and living longer than their predecessors".

There's no doubt baby boomers make up an important part of our vibrant state. Businesses, governments, employers, educators, developers and planners across all sectors need to embrace this rapidly growing sector and ensure their products and services meet the needs and demands of our baby boomers.

For example, 17% of older baby boomers had no superannuation in 2000, 38% had less than $20,000 and only 8% had more than $100,000. In 2001, 25% of baby boomers were smokers and 51% were overweight or obese. So clearly we need to ensure our financial and public health messages and programs are guided by this information.

Western Australia's Baby Boomers: A Profile of Persons Born 1946 - 1965 (cat. no. 4149.5) is divided into seven sections covering demographics, cultural diversity, families, housing, health, education and work, and community life. The ABS has produced the Western Australian Baby Boomers publication in response to the need identified by State Government agencies for sound statistical information to inform policy development and planning for the ageing of Western Australia’s baby boomer population.

The 'baby boom' describes the 20 year period immediately following World War II (1946 - 1965) where there was a substantial increase in the number of births and high population growth through net overseas migration. The high fertility rates experienced in Australia after World War II continued into the early 1960s, reaching a peak of 3.5 babies per woman in 1961. In WA, fertility rates were consistently higher and peaked earlier than the Australian rates, reaching 3.8 babies per woman in 1956. During the twenty year period between 1946 and 1965 there were over 300,000 people born in WA. The declining fertility rates in recent decades, coupled with improved life expectancy over the last century, have contributed to population ageing in WA, a phenomenon which has been observed throughout Australia and in many of the world’s developed regions.

The fertility rate dropped through the mid-1960s with the introduction of effective contraception and the wider availability of abortion. In the late 1960s, legislation was passed which allowed married women to work in the public sector, and ensured that women should receive equal pay to men for equal work. These changes resulted in a steady increase in the participation of women in education and employment and a continuing decline in fertility rates.
The ABS projects that by 2041, 29% of WA's population will be aged 60 years and over. This is more than double the proportion of persons aged 60 years and over near the beginning of the baby boom (12% in 1947).

In 2001, 85% of baby boomers considered themselves to be in good, very good or excellent health, although one-quarter of all baby boomers were current smokers, 14% were consuming risky or high risk levels of alcohol, two thirds were sedentary or undertaking low levels of exercise and 51% were overweight or obese.

Just over three-quarters of all baby boomers lived in private dwellings which were either fully owned or being purchased at the time of the 2001 Census. Older baby boomers were more likely to own their own home outright than younger baby boomers (43% compared with 24%), whereas younger baby boomers were more likely to be purchasing their dwelling (49% compared with 36% for older baby boomers). 71% of persons aged 60 years and over lived in fully owned private dwellings. In 2001, 15% of younger baby boomers rented from private landlords, compared to 10% of older baby boomers and 6% of persons aged 60 years and over.

Baby boomers were more likely to be a volunteer than any other age group in 2000, with older baby boomers contributing the largest number of hours to volunteering activities. 17% of pre-retired baby boomers had no superannuation in 2000, 38% had less than $20,000 and only 8% had more than $100,000.

For further information, contact Gabriela Lawrence by email: gabriela.lawrence@abs.gov.au or phone (08) 9360 5947.