The proportion of women in the older age groups peaked in 1968, when women made up 58% of all people aged 65 and over in Australia. 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 (63%); for women aged 85 and over, it peaked in 1982 (73%). These patterns relate in large part to the effects of World War II.
At 30 June 2020, Tasmania (20%) had the highest proportion of its population aged 65 and over, followed by South Australia (19%) and New South Wales (17%). Considering older age groups, the state with the highest proportion of people aged 85 and over in its population was South Australia (2.6%). Similar proportions were reported for Tasmania (2.3%), New South Wales (2.2%) and Victoria (2.1%) (ABS 2020b).
Another way to consider the geographical distribution of older people is to look at the median age (the age at which half the population is older and half is younger) of smaller regions, such as Statistical Areas Level 4 (SA4s) within the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS). In 2019, the Hunter Valley (excluding Newcastle) in New South Wales had the highest median age (63.0), followed by the Mid North Coast in New South Wales (61.2) and Moreton Bay – North in Queensland (60.6) (ABS 2020c).
Like many developed countries, Australia has a high median age, with a relatively large proportion of its population aged 65 and over. In 2020, the median age in Australia was estimated at 37.9. This was slightly lower than for the United States of America (38.3 years) and the United Kingdom (40.5 years). It was slightly higher than other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries such as Turkey (31.5), Israel (30.5) and Mexico (29.2) (UN 2019).
The median age of the overseas-born population in Australia has decreased over the last 10 years, but increased slightly at 30 June 2020. The decrease before 30 June 2020 has slowed the ageing of the total Australian population (ABS 2021).
The estimated proportion of people aged 65 and over in these countries in 2020 was similar to Australia’s (16%):
- 17% in the United States of America
- 19% in the United Kingdom.
This proportion was higher than a number of other OECD countries, including:
- 12% in Israel
- 9% in Turkey
- 7.6% in Mexico (UN 2019).
Where do I go for more information?
For more information on the demographic profile of older Australians, see:
Information about culturally and linguistically diverse, rural and remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander older Australians can be found in the feature articles, while information about deaths and life expectancy can be found in health status and functioning.