The Fading Australian Dream

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Housing affordability is currently a key issue of discussion in Australia and while there are a number of factors at play, the main price driver is that demand for houses is exceeding supply. Population growth, a trend to smaller households (and so more homes needed relative to the population), and demand for homes not only from first home buyers but also from downsizers, overseas buyers, local investors, and self-managed super funds and trusts are all fuelling price rises.

While Australia’s current annual population growth of 1.4% may seem modest, this adds almost 340,000 to our population each year- which is one new Darwin every 20 weeks or a new Tasmania every 18 months.

Where population growth is strongest, house price rises are the highest

Sydney is growing much faster than this having averaged 1.8% per annum for the last five years. It will add almost two million to its population by 2037 – which is the equivalent of adding a new Perth into Sydney. Melbourne is currently Australia’s fastest growing city and based on the current growth trends, it will overtake Sydney to become the nation’s largest city around the middle of this century. Unsurprisingly where population growth is strongest, house price rises are the highest.

Earnings growth has not kept up with house price growth

In just twenty years, the average Sydney house price has increased more than five-fold from $233,250 in 1997 to $1,190,390 today while in Melbourne prices over the same period have increased by more than six times from $142,000 to $943,100 today. While it is true that wages have increased over this time, earnings growth has not kept up with house price growth. In 20 years, average annual full-time earnings have not quite doubled from $42,010 in 1997 to $82,784 today.

The impact of growing demand on house prices is most evident when comparing prices to average earnings. Twenty years ago, the average Sydney house was 5.6 times average annual earnings while in Melbourne it was an affordable 3.4 times annual earnings. Today Sydney homes are more than 14 times average earnings, and in Melbourne more than 11 times annual earnings. While the maxim that house prices double every 10 years is not always the case and growth fluctuates, since 1997 Sydney prices have in effect doubled every 8 years while Melbourne has managed this every 6 years.

If the growth metrics over the last two decades play out over the next two, the average home in both Sydney and Melbourne in 2037 will exceed $6 million. Clearly, the Australian dream of home ownership for the next generation is fading. Young people today need almost three times the purchasing power that their parents needed to buy the average place, so even double incomes will not quite do it. Additionally, today’s new households are starting their earnings years later than their parents, having spent longer in tertiary studies, and they begin their economic life not with zero savings like their parents, but well into the negative- with interest accumulating study debts to pay off. Even if today’s emerging generations start saving harder and earlier and live with their parents longer, home ownership is still not a given.

Policy settings around migration and baby bonuses have grown the population and policies around property tax incentives, self-managed superannuation and investment provisions have fuelled property demand therefore policy support will be required to bring the great Australian dream a little bit closer to reality.

Supply and demand; Australia as an ageing nation

Tuesday, March 21, 2017



Australia is experiencing a baby boom, with births exceeding 300,000 a year. 30 years ago, the over 65s made up just 11% of our population (one in nine persons). Today the over 65s make up 15% of our population (one in seven). Forecasts project that this cohort will make up 18% in 2027 (one in six). By 2047 one in five Australians (20%) will be aged over 65.


Our median age is also increasing. Three decades ago the median age of an Australian was 31.3. Today it is 37.4 and in 2047 it is projected to be just under 40.


The over 85s, where there is an even greater need for aged care services, are growing at a faster rate than the over 65s. In 1987 there were 133,448 Australians aged over 85. Today there are four times as many, and in 2047 there will 14 times as many.


Not only are there more older people in our nation, but Australians are living longer than ever before. Life expectancy at birth in 1987 was 76.3, whereas today it is 81 for a male and 85 for a female. In 2047, it is projected to 89.9.


The primary enabler of this increased longevity gain has been the health system rather than individual behaviour. Life expectancy increases will continue because of improved medical technologies, public health infrastructure and better public health measures. New and improved medical interventions will also contribute, as will the improved survivability rates of major illnesses and cancers.

A decade ago, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease were the 6th largest causes of death in Australia. Today they are the 3rd leading causes of death with the number of deaths having more than doubled to 9,864. Over the same period of time, deaths due to the first and second causes of death (heart disease and brain disease) have been decreasing. If today’s current trend continues, by 2021 dementia and Alzheimer’s disease will be the leading cause of death in Australia.


In 1952, the year that Queen Elizabeth II became sovereign, 40 letters of congratulations would need to have been written to Australians turning 100. This year, 2,925 Australians will turn 100 and in 10 years 5,401 will turn 100. In 30 years the number of congratulatory letters written to Australians turning 100 will increase to 25,938 in the year 2047.



Not only is there an increasing demand on the services provided by the aged care sector with the growing number of over 85s, there is also a workforce supply challenge.


The ageing population will place greater demands for productivity on the labour force. In 1975 for every person of retirement age there were 7.1 people in the working age population. By 2015 there were just 4.5 people of working age for every individual of retirement age, and this is projected to decline to just 2.7 people of working age for every individual at retirement age by 2055.


Because of the high median age of an employee in the aged care sector, half of the aged care workforce will be of retirement age in 15 years. There are 350,000 workers in the aged care sector (estimated in 2012), so this equates to an average of 11,667 retirements per year for the next 15 years. This averages to 972 farewell lunches per month!

If we are to keep the current ratio of aged care workers to people aged over 85 in our nation, we need to add 129,945 workers in the next 10 years. This equates to recruiting 1,083 new workers per month, in addition to replacing the 972 retiring staff per month.

That’s a total recruitment goal of 2,055 each month – adding nearly 25,000 individuals to Australia’s aged care workforce each year.


To find out more about McCrindle's expertise in the aged care industry, or how we can communicate these insights to your team, please get in touch.

The Healthy Futures Report

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia and Amneal Pharmaceuticals commissioned McCrindle to write up and design the Healthy Futures 2017 Report. 

This report reveals the insights into consumers understanding of pharmaceuticals and pharmacy health services.

The findings were gathered from a national survey of 1,001 Australians aged 18+ and the results were delivered at the annual 2017 APP conference by Mark McCrindle.


From developing the survey through to conducting the analysis and communicating the insights, this piece is a great example of a thought leadership report that delves into Australians attitudes and sentiments towards pharmaceutical services.




If we can assist with any research, event speaking or infographic design please feel free to get in touch:

P: 02 8824 3422


The McCrindle Office Opening

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Last Thursday it was our pleasure to host an office opening of our new space at Unit 105, 29 Solent Circuit Baulkham Hills NSW 2153. Our newly furbished office space in Norwest Business Park, Sydney has been custom designed by our team to facilitate constant innovation, world-class research and creative storytelling. The open plan layout includes shared kitchen facilities, break out meeting rooms and a sizable board meeting room and viewing room, designed to host focus groups.

To commemorate the occasion we hosted a small morning tea for our team, interns, past colleagues and connections who have supported McCrindle along our journey.

Mark McCrindle opened the morning by saying a few words about our history. This was followed by some words by the Hon Alex Hawke MP, the Federal Member for Mitchell, before the unveiling of our life-size infographic wall. We were also honored to have Anthony Moss, the president of the Sydney Hills Business Chamber in attendance. 

We would like to thank all those who have supported McCrindle over the last 10 years and we look forward to welcoming all new and existing clients to our new office space.

Top 3 Tips for Research Visualisation

Monday, March 06, 2017

Yesterday we had a new infographic wall installed in our office which serves not only as our reception sign, but more importantly communicates our vision of making data and statistics visual- and understandable.

Research is at its best when it tells a story, when it paints a picture, when it’s research you can see.

We live in a visual world and so we gather information from what we observe. It is the research that we see that we respond to best. So in a world of big data- we need visual data!

Images not words get cut-through

Symbols not languages are universal

Pictures not statistics connect across the generations

There is an old management maxim which stats “what gets measured gets done.” But to that we would add: what gets measured and communicated gets done.

What gets visualised gets understood. What gets shared gets acted upon.

We believe that if it is important enough to collect and analyse the data- then it is important that we visualise and tell the story of the data.

So here are our top 3 words when it comes to visualising data:


Don’t overcomplicate it. Like a good pasta sauce: start with the best ingredients and reduce, reduce, reduce. When it comes to information, if you want to tell them more, tell them less and you’ll tell them more.

Research methodologies matter. Quality analysis is important. But making the data visual, creating research that you can see, ensuring the information tells a story - that’s absolutely critical.


Use symbols that are relatable and metaphors that are understandable.

Research that makes a difference has to be seen not only with the eyes of your head, but also with the eyes of your heart. It makes sense rationally, and you get it viscerally.

Think about connecting with the individual- and so you will connect with all. What is most personal- is most universal.


Vary the colours, concepts, styles: mix it up. Elegant variety matters. Statistics should be fun- like animation. People should be able to play with data. Research reports should not sit on shelves but be interacted with, and shared on social media, or put up on reception walls (like this one!) or beamed onto buildings.

So to ensure your big data doesn’t become boring data use SIMPLICITY, RELATABILITY and VARIETY to tell the story.

Until the last excel table has been transformed there’s work to be done.

About Research Visualisation

In a world of big data, we’re for visual data. We believe in the democratisation of information, and that research should be accessible to everyone, not just to the stats junkies. 

We’re passionate about turning tables into visuals, data into videos and reports into presentations. As researchers, we understand the methods, but we’re also designers and we know what will communicate, and how to best engage. 

Whether you’re looking to conduct research from scratch, or if you have existing data that you want to bring to life – get in touch with the McCrindle team.

McCrindle's new office!

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Our team at McCrindle are excited to announce that we have moved into a new office at Suite 105, 29 Solent Circuit Baulkham Hills NSW 2153 (all of our other phone and contact details remain the same).

Our newly furbished office space in Norwest Business Park, Sydney has been custom designed by our team to facilitate constant innovation, world-class research and creative storytelling.

Acknowledging how important physical spaces are, our new office is more than double in size of our previous space (where our growing team was getting quite squeezed!).

The new office space has been strategically designed by our team to facilitate collaboration and innovation. The open plan layout includes communal kitchen facilities, break out meeting rooms and a sizable board meeting room with an accompanying viewing room, which has been purposefully designed to host focus groups.

In the knowledge that healthy things grow, it is exciting to see our office space facilitating our growing team of 11. Our newly opened office is an exciting milestone for us as a business, and we are enjoying the interaction and productivity this space is providing. At McCrindle we celebrate the wins, prioritise people and give our best (you can read more about our McCrindle priorities and values here).

We would be delighted to welcome all our new and existing clients to drop in to our new office space some time for a catch up or to host a meeting, research focus groups or in-depth interviews.

Get in touch

McCrindle Research

A: Suite 105, 29 Solent Circuit Baulkham Hills NSW 2153

P: 02 8824 3422


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