Australian population projections – we’re getting old

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Population demographics are known to alter over time, often due to changes in the social and economic conditions of each era. Australia’s population is no exception and current projections can read as interesting yet startling statistics.

As of the time of writing in 2013, Australia’s population has reached nearly 22.9 million people. Based on a fertility rate of 1.8 children per woman (the current is approximately 1.9 after hitting a low of 1.74 in 2001), it’s projected to increase to around 35.5 million by 2056 and 44.7 million by 2101.

Using the series B data from Australia Bureau of Statistics releases 3222.0 – Population Projections, Australia, 2006 to 2101 and 1370.0 – Measures of Australia’s Progress, 2010 we can see some interesting trends developing the ageing demographics of Australia.

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Data from ABS report catalogue number 3222.0

As we can see, it’s expected that the percentage of the population aged 65 will nearly double in the next 100 years. These changes are perhaps better visualised using a population pyramid:

Age structure of the projected population(a)

(a) At 30 June. Series B population projection.
Source: ABS Population Projections, Australia, 2006-2101 (cat. no. 3222.0)

Comparing 2006 and 2056, you can quite clearly see a decrease in the proportion of the population in each age group under 60, and a marked increase in each population bracket over 60. People are living longer and fertility rates have dropped significantly, leading to an increase in the average age of the population over time.

This is going to present a number of interesting problems for Australia as a country. The working age proportion of the country (18-65) is going to decrease by a significant amount, meaning there will likely be less tax revenue being generated or else a greater tax burden will be placed on those who are working age. At the same time, there will be much greater demand for aged care services and home and community care due to the huge increase in elderly people.

As a result, there is expected to be huge growth in the aged care and home care industries over the next 50 years. It’s likely there simply won’t be enough public funding to provide aged care services for all those that need them. Individuals will have to fund their own care requirements or rely on their children and grandchildren to care for them directly or finance formalised care arrangements.

Home and community care can help to fulfill the needs of many ageing people without the massive infrastructure investments needed to build specialised care facilities. HACC offers the ability to give our ageing population a higher quality of life while continuing to live in their own homes. It can  potentially reduce the financial strain on tax revenues that would otherwise be spent trying to provide facilities for people who only need minor assistance, saving those resources for those that would rely on them to survive.

If you’re thinking about a career in home or aged care, a Certificate 3 in Aged Care or Certificate 3 in Home and Community Care is an excellent starting point to have a fulfilling job while gaining experience in the industry and being in a position to seize opportunities when they arise. Even if you don’t plan to work in the industry, having such training can be an asset when helping elderly family members and friends.

These population changes are not isolated to Australia and are being mimicked in many developed nations around the world, creating demand worldwide for skilled aged care and home care providers. 

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