Australia’s changing age & gender profile

Population ageing

In 2017, there were 3.8 million Australians aged 65 and over (comprising 15% of the total population) —increasing from 319,000 (5%) in 1927 and 1.3 million (9%) in 1977 (Figure 1) [1, 2]. The number and proportion of older Australians is expected to continue to grow. By 2057, it is projected there will be 8.8 million older people in Australia (22% of the population); by 2097, 12.8 million people (25%) will be aged 65 and over [1].

As Australia's population ages, the profile of the older population is also projected to change. In 2017, more than half of older people (57%, or 2.2 million) were aged 65–74, one-third were aged 75–84 (30%, or 1.2 million), and 13% were aged 85 and over (497,000). By 2047, it is projected there will be just under 3.4 million people aged 65–74, though this represents a smaller proportion of all older people (45%). People aged 75–84 will account for 35% (2.6 million) of the population and 1 in 5 older people will be aged 85 and over (20%, or 1.5 million) [2].

Sex

Women tend to live longer than men [4]. This is seen in the differences in life expectancy and is particularly apparent in older age groups. In 2017, approximately half of all people aged 65–74 (51%) and 75–84 (54%) were women. This rose to 63% for people aged 85 and over [2].

The proportion of women in the older age groups peaked in 1968, when women made up 58% of all people aged 65 and over. This proportion has been declining since. The peak for women aged 65–74 was in 1965 (56%) and for those aged 75–84 in 1974 (64%); for women aged 85 and over, it peaked in 1982 (73%) [1].

International comparisons

Like many developed countries, Australia has a high median age: a relatively large proportion of its population is aged 65 and over. In 2015, the median age in Australia was 37.2—slightly lower than that in the United States of America (37.6) and the United Kingdom (40.2) [3]. The proportion of people aged 65 and over in these countries was similar to Australia's—15% in the United States of America and 18% in the United Kingdom [3], compared with 15% in Australia (Figure 2). In 2020, the proportion of people aged 65 and over are estimated to increase by around 1.2% for Australia, 2% for the USA and 0.9% for the United Kingdom [2, 3].

References

  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2014. Australian historical population statistics, 2014. ABS cat. no. 3105.0.65.001. Canberra: ABS.
  2. ABS 2017. Australian Demographic Statistics, Jun 2016. ABS cat. no. 3101.0. Canberra: ABS.
  3. United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs, Population Division (2017) World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision.