4914.0.55.001 - Newsletter: Age Matters, Jan 2006  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/01/2006   
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1. Measuring the Age of Withdrawal from the Labour Force.

In response to increased attention in Australia and other developed countries, a recent ABS Research Paper, Comparison of methods for Measuring the Age of Withdrawal from the Labour Force (cat. no. 1351.0.55.009) considered two important aspects:

  • the age at which people are withdrawing from the labour force and starting their retirement, and
  • how this age is measured.

Data from the ABS Labour Force Survey from 1981–2003 for people aged 45–84 years showed:
  • the age of withdrawal from the labour force has risen over the past five years and is currently around the highest levels seen since 1981. Good labour market conditions have contributed to this.
  • men withdraw at an older age than women. However, the gap has decreased since 1981.
  • the age of withdrawal from full-time participation has fallen relative to the age of withdrawal from the labour force as a whole. It seems that people are increasingly withdrawing from full-time work but continuing on in the labour force through part-time employment.

The actual measurement of age of withdrawal can be calculated using different methods. The paper compared the age of withdrawal measures using three distinct methods. Two methods used were based on ‘expected age' which is linked to participation rates and a third method was based on ‘average age' which is linked to labour market conditions. The findings summarised above however, were consistent in each of the three methods.

2. Living Arrangements of Older Persons Around the World

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Population Division

This study is a broad survey and analysis of older person’s living arrangements for selected regions where comparable data was available for people aged 60 years or over. The aim of the study is to identify the main factors associated with either solitary living or co-habiting with family members. The regions included Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America and Oceania.

The key findings of the study include:
  • one out of every seven older persons (approximately 90 million people) live alone however this ratio varies, with one in four in the more developed regions compared with less than one in ten living alone in the less developed regions.
  • there is a widespread trend towards independent forms of living arrangements among older persons.
  • more older women than older men live alone as the women are less likely than men to be still married.
  • living arrangements vary enormously from place to place, i.e. regions with higher levels of social and economic development have lower levels of co-habitation with children.

The full report is available on the web at www.un.org. The UN intends that the study will serve as a baseline for studying future trends.