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FEATURE ARTICLE: POPULATION BY AGE AND SEX, AUSTRALIA, STATES AND TERRITORIES
Over the next several decades, population ageing is will have a range of implications for Australia, including; health, size of the working-age population, housing and demand for skilled labour.
Like most developed countries, Australia's population is ageing as a result of sustained low fertility and increasing life expectancy. This has resulted in proportionally fewer children (under 15 years of age) in the population and a proportionally larger increase in those aged 65 and over.
Between 1996 and 2016, the proportion of Australia's population aged 15-64 years remained fairly stable, decreasing from 66.6% to 65.9% of the total population. During the same period, the proportion of people aged 65 years and over increased from 12.0% to 15.3% and the proportion of people aged 85 years and over almost doubled from 1.1% of the total population in 1996 to 2.0% in 2016. Conversely, the proportion aged under 15 years decreased from 21.4% to 18.8%.
CHILDREN (AGED 0-14 YEARS)
In the 20 years between 1996 and 2016, the proportion of children (aged 0-14 years) decreased from 21.4% to 18.8% of the total population.
In the 12 months to 30 June 2016, the total number of children aged 0-14 years in the population increased by 1.3% (58,900 people) compared with an increase of 1.2% (52,800 people) in the previous year ending 30 June 2015. Over this period, the number of 0-4 year olds increased by 21,600 (1.4%), 5-9 year olds increased by 15,100 (1.0%), and those aged between 10-14 years increased by 22,200 (1.6%).
In the year ended 30 June 2016, Victoria recorded the largest percentage increase in the number of children aged 0-14 years (2.5%), followed by the Australian Capital Territory (2.0%). In contrast, Tasmania and the Northern Territory recorded decreases of 0.1% and 0.2% respectively.
WORKING-AGE POPULATION (AGED 15-64 YEARS)
At 30 June 1996, the proportion of the population aged between 15 and 64 years (traditionally referred to as the 'working-age population') was 66.6%. This proportion increased to a high of 67.5% in 2009, before declining to 65.9% by 30 June 2016.
In the 12 months to 30 June 2016, the number of people in the working ages increased by 1.0% (or 163,000 persons). At the state and territory level, Victoria and New South Wales experienced growth rates for this group that were higher than the 1.0% national average at 1.7% and 1.1% respectively. In contrast, Tasmania and the Northern Territory recorded a decrease in the number of 15-64 year olds of 0.1% and 0.2% respectively.
There were 288,100 young people aged 15 years who entered the working-age population while 243,900 people turned 65 years and left the working-age population in the year ended 30 June 2016.
Comparing the working-age population (aged 15-64 years) with the remainder of the population (aged 0-14 and 65 and greater) over the 20 years to 30 June 2016, the non working-age population is growing faster at 1.5% compared with 1.4% for the working-age population. This faster growth in the non working-ages has been evident since 2010. Over the 5 years to 30 June 2016 the non working-age population has been growing at 2.3% compared with 1.2% for the working-age population. The main contributor to the increased growth of the non working-age population is growth in the population aged 65 and over.
PEOPLE AGED 65 YEARS AND OVER
Over the 20 years between 1996 and 2016, the proportion of the population aged 65 years and over increased from 12.0% to 15.3%. This group is projected to increase more rapidly over the next decade, as further cohorts of baby boomers (those born between the years 1946 and 1964) turn 65. Currently only five cohorts of birth years have reached 65 and there are 13 remaining.
Notably the past 20 years has seen the proportion of the Northern Territory's population 65 years and over increase from 3.2% to 7.3% due, in part to an increasing life expectancy in the Northern Territory's population.
In the 12 months to 30 June 2016, the number of people aged 65 years and over increased by 116,000 people, representing a 3.3% increase.
All states and territories experienced growth in people aged 65 years and over in the year ended 30 June 2016. The largest increase in this group was in the Northern Territory (6.2%), followed by the Australian Capital Territory (4.2%), and Western Australia (4.0%).
PEOPLE AGED 85 YEARS AND OVER
Over the past two decades, the number of persons aged 85 years and over increased by 141.2%, compared with a total population growth of 32.4 over the same period.
In the year ending 30 June 2016, the number of people aged 85 years and over increased by 15,100 people (3.2%) to reach 484,600. There were almost twice as many females (305,000) as males (179,700) in this age group which reflects the higher life expectancy for females.
Over the same period, the largest percentage increases of people aged 85 years and over occurred in the Northern Territory (9.9%), followed by Western Australia (4.6%), the Australian Capital Territory (4.0%), Queensland (3.9%), New South Wales (3.1%), Victoria and South Australia (both 2.6%) and Tasmania (2.5%).
The sex ratio relates to the number of males per 100 females in a population or sub-population. The sex ratio at birth is approximately 106 males per 100 females. Higher male mortality rates at younger ages result in the ratio approaching 100 by the age of 30. Net Overseas Migration can influence the sex ratio, especially in the working ages where there has historically been a greater proportion of male migrants. Above age 70, the sex ratio reduces markedly due to the impact of higher male mortality in this population group.
At 30 June 2016, the sex ratio of the total population for Australia was 98.8 males per 100 females. At age 0, the sex ratio for Australia at 30 June 2016 was 105.7 males per 100 females. The excess of males at younger ages contrasts with the opposite situation in the older ages, which is attributed to female longevity.
At 30 June 2016, the Northern Territory and Western Australia had 111.5 and 101.8 males per 100 females respectively. All other states and territories had lower ratios of males to females. Victoria and South Australia had 97.7 and 98.1 males per 100 females respectively.
Population ageing is a notable demographic characteristic of most developed countries. It is related to both sustained low fertility which results in proportionately fewer children, and increasing life expectancy which results in proportionately more elderly people. In Japan, Italy, Greece, Sweden, Canada and Hong Kong (Special administrative region (SAR) of China), the number of people aged 65 years and over already exceeds the number of children aged 0-14 years. In Australia, based on the latest Series B population projections, the number of people aged 65 years and over is projected to exceed the number of children aged 0-14 years around the year 2030. For more information, see Population Projections, Australia, 2012 (base) to 2101 (cat. no. 3222.0).
According to United Nations projections, all of the 20 countries selected for analysis in the table below are projected to experience an increase in the proportion of people aged 65 and over to 2020. In all of the selected countries except for Canada, United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Sweden, this increase in older population is accompanied by a decrease in the 0-14 year old population.
According to ABS projection Series B, the proportion of children 0-14 years in the Australian population is projected to increase by 0.2 percentage points between 2015 and 2020, from 18.8% to 19%, while the proportion of people aged 15-64 years is projected to decrease by 1.3 percentage points, from 66.2% to 64.9%. The proportion of people aged 65 years and over is projected to increase by 1.1 percentage points, from 15% to 16.1%.
In 2015, the age structure of Australia's population was similar to that of New Zealand and the United States of America. Generally, the European countries and Japan had smaller proportions of children and higher proportions of older people than Australia. In contrast, developing countries tended to have proportionally more children and far fewer older people, generally reflecting higher fertility rates and lower life expectancies than those experienced in Australia.
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