1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Participation rate of older people(a)
Graph Image for Participation rate of older people(a)

Footnote(s): (a) Annual average.

Source(s): ABS Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001)

Older people working part-time(a)(b)
Graph Image for Older people working part-time(a)(b)

Footnote(s): (a) Annual average. (b) Proportion of all employed people in each age group.

Source(s): ABS Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001)


The extent of involvement in the paid workforce varies throughout the life course, but generally declines towards the years of retirement. There are a range of factors that influence whether and when people retire from the labour force. Financial considerations such as the adequacy of superannuation and eligibility for the age pension are important factors for many people. For others, ill health or disability, or caring responsibilities mean that they are unable to participate in the labour force even though they would like to. Many cite employer attitudes towards older people as one of the reasons they are not inclined to look for work, or are not able to find work (ABS 2004a). This may be one of the reasons why older people tend to be unemployed for longer than those in younger age groups.

Regardless of age, having paid work contributes to a person's sense of identity and self-esteem, and provides opportunities for self development and interaction with people outside the home. There are also benefits for businesses, the economy and society in keeping older people in the workforce, given their experience and knowledge.

The labour force participation rate of people aged 55 years and over has risen over the last three decades. Participation among people aged 55-59 years rose from 55% in 1979 to 71% in 2009. For those aged 60-64 years, participation rose from 33% in 1979 to 50% in 2009, and for people aged 65 years and over it rose from 6% to 10% over the same period.

Recent decades have also seen an increasing trend of people moving from full-time to part-time work as a transition to retirement. For people aged 60-64 years, the proportion of workers in part-time employment increased from 16% in 1979 to 36% in 2009. For people aged 65 years and over, it rose from 42% to 54% over the same period.


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