Older Workers, Downagers, and Redefining Retirement

Monday, May 13, 2013

Older Workers in Australia, Downagers, Redefining retirement

Australia’s ageing continues

In just two decades Australia’s median age has increased nearly 5 years (from 32.7 to 37.5 today). In the last 5 years the proportion of our population aged under 20 has declined by a percentage point to be just 1 in 4 Australians (25%) while the proportion aged over 60 has increased by a similar amount to be 1 in 5 (20%). Based on these current demographic trends, by 2028, for the first time in Australia’s history there will be more people aged over 60 than aged under 20.

Click here to download this report as a PDF.

Click here to download this report.

A good news story

The ageing of our population is of course a good news story. The Standardised Death Rate (deaths per 1,000 population) continues to fall (to 5.59- half that of births) while life expectancy continues to rise.

When Australia’s Age Pension was introduced in 1909, life expectancy at birth was 57 while today it exceeds 80. While the accessibility age of 65 for males has not changed in a century, longevity certainly has. In fact so dramatic has been the increase in life expectancy, that averaged across males and females, Australians have gained 25 years of life expectancy in the last 100 years. Or 3 months of life every 12 months of time!

Downagers: redefining the older life stages

Today’s Baby Boomers are the ultimate downagers, redefining lifestages, and reinventing retirement. They have adult children at home longer, they’re buying and selling property later in life, and remaining active in the workforce later than ever before. This is a response to the improved life and health realities. In fact based on years of life expectancy, a 65 year old today is the equivalent of a 54 year old in 1950. It is therefore of little surprise that Australians are younger longer and working later.

Older workers: technical, professional and entrepreneurial

Australia’s workers aged 65 and older currently comprise 3.4% of Australia’s total workforce (393,000 out of 11, 589, 000). The top two job categories of older Australians where more than 1 in 5 are aged 65 or over are professionals (21.4%) and managers (20.4%).

Occupation Breakdown of Workers Aged 65+

Of Australians 65 and over currently in the workforce, 72% are employees, 23% have their own business, 4% are employers, and 1% are contributing family workers.

Older Australians work the longest hours employed as managers in numerous industries (35 hours per week) and the least hours when employed in the community and personal service work industry (18 hours).

Across all of the industries, the average Australian worker aged 65 and older works 27 hours per week as an employee, 36 hours per week as an employer, 26 hours per week as a business owner, and 18 hours per week as a contributing family worker. Older workers are looking for great flexibility in their working hours and are increasingly not working full-time.

41% of Australians aged 65 and older who work as managers run their own business. This is the highest rate of self-employment across the major industries for this age group. Other industries that display a high percentage of older Australians running their own businesses are technicians and trade workers (27%), labourers (26%) and business services (20%).


Total employees
aged 65+

% of all employees

Average hours worked









Clerical and Administrative Workers








Technicians and Trades Workers




Machinery Operators and Drivers




Sales Workers




Community & Personal Service Workers








As the Director of McCrindle Research, Mark McCrindle headed up the McCrindle Baynes Village Community Report – the largest study into retirement village residents ever conducted in Australia. The project involved a 57 question pen and paper survey, deployed to 181 villages managed by 7 operators. It received over 10,000 completed surveys, representing almost 1 in 10 village residents Australia-wide.

Want to know more?

Click here to download our Speaking and Research Pack for the Retirement and Aged Care Sectors.

Click here to read more about our Speaking services.

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


brand experience overcast the australian dream baby boomers investor mortgage long weekend focus group increasing densification national private wealth research data year 12 demographic trends social media urban living blaxland women teaching sunburnt country innovative media commentary engagement children economic dessert easter brand urban Wodonga careers the changing face of storytelling housing trends sydneysiders year 7 couple speakers market research budget digital gen z Myth teleworking faux-cilising community twentyseventeen domestic sydneycity infographic growing population Education Future Forum Western Australia Financial Planning Week educated average aussie workshop data analyst cars workplace baby boom ACT Hornsby Shire Council generation baby name equip housing affordability research visualisation JOMO keynote speaker World Water Day commute Australian Census professional development optimistic 2012 business index communication weekly earnings mccrindle communicate researcher interactive event millionth property new office responsive ashley fell youth unemployment snapshot social trends optus 1968 high density living social impact earning shifts cultural diversity Bathburst students medicine trends professional dare to dream Canberra food VIC ABS Australia Day 2017 results work residents balance tips megatrends eliane miles tea quote Tuesday Trends keynote REIV Conference economy pharmacies capital city divorce rate authenticity hills shire New Zealand real government home cooking entrepreneurial hornsby housing affordability thought leadership mobile princess charlotte sydney event stats shopping marriages school satisfaction bondi Queensland suburban living repayments collaboration retirement victoria cold unemployment Christmas season conferences Kiwi wage culture online new york times trend tuesday young australians optus my business awards staff research services volunteers office opening future proof australians staying home more mateship Geoff Brailey futurist learning styles gender royal influence ethnography holiday trends of 2016 organisations IT Specialists sydney speaker jobs personal growth population milestone clothing tertiary education organisational culture South Australia christianity DIY 2013 university degree Res Vis national crime rates wealth Mark McCrindle religion woolworths high school Gen Y Assistant Store Manager Duchess of Cambridge education alpha Research Executive priorities meetings consumerism emerging generations Population Clock change meals future of education customer New Zeland events menai presentations debate Northern Beaches Christian School offenders educhat mythbusters social analysis waverton Tasmania paying to work award monarchy recap winter investment builders rich parenting business 2015 Australian Bureau of Statistics socialising church family emerging technologies seasons tableau national wealth australian social research NT emerging trends gold coast identity public speaking nfp lifestyle 1994 participants Adelaide men world socialites mccrindle research brisbane fears investing Word Up personalities Social Trend training mccrindle tea ipswich data visualisation 24,000,000 income greatness prince george define click sector wide study education sector world youth day father's day australia 24 million social change narcissism career Northern Territory schools survey future of work publication 10 years baby name predictions house celebration rental stress Australian schools NEETs future proofing public holiday social commentary millenials norwest happiness marrickville youth hobart January 26th wages REIV National Conference research pack professional speaker group staying in ageing entrepreneur property price ACF 2016 crime financial independence mccrindle in the media Valentine’s Day trend marketing work-life teachers social enquiry case study Financial Planning Association of Australia cloudy days Births cost of living 1980 potts point manly education future Sydney winter blues Netflix population map networking generational trends skills ashley mckenzie poker master Channel Seven typical australian not-for-profit social life parents social challenge communities GPO divorce finance debt mentor Australia Day owning a home Love population growth in depth interviews motivate house price rise infographic wall financial future learner Northern Beaches CBD community engagement 1975 curiosity logan earn tuesday university water leader Scouts suburb local communities urban taskforce life baby names rising house prices acf15 learn ease of travel suburbs demographer TAS internship high density christmas jobs of the future Royals Merry Christmas statistics post rationalism trends analyst tattoos census royal ultimo cancelling plans easy rider English visual employment in the media relational geomapping education research cancel plans toys royal baby area buildings city vegetarian school students rise of local anzac safe Australian communities 23 million Channel 7 shbc conference Crime Rates February 16 global financial crisis presentation healthy future global generations Christmas lunch renter of the future communications house price lalor park bureau follow Queensland: QLD leadership workshop hello fresh affordable sentiments deloitte demographic transformations social commentator Charlotte royal family media social shifts engage households product hopes sustainable work mates litter financial dreams supply and demand property market Christchurch cost Generation X goal workforce ageing population australian communities trends report renting Northern beaches Event future-proof goals annual income aged care google for education NSW coffee 40 million rain shopper's pick teacher cash huffington post trends of 2017 leadership low density Australian Home mining boom qualitative research daily telegraph Gen X sector Australian demographics Engineering Manager crows nest analysis generations salary insight conference speaker names moreton bay ACF student facts wealth and income distribution states etiquette non profit Australian Dream neutral bay FOMO earnings state video resilience DESTEL schools students kate middleton charity The ABC of XYZ global tv Australians generation alpha collaborative aussie culture dreaming local graphs pharmacy criminal omnibus poor environmental scanning home ownership wellbeing going out office space HSC energy workplace culture faux-ciliser ideas Tuesday Trend PSI SMSF intern townhouses transport Aussie data Australian Trends System's Architect education future report fresh faux-cilise future insights housing growth generation Z Kirsten Brewer entertainment The Daily Edition perth language society brands study employers wealth and income gen alpha list survey design summer darwin google cartodb unaffordable pyrmont 2014 visualisation McCrindle Speakers household sunny days experience selfie teach WA moderators guide SA Wellington news weather child care families innovation friends Caregiver Wagga Wagga urban living index slideshare program millennials Australian Communities Trends vegemite group session cancelling event online shopping forecasting Christmas presents Melbourne home owner rule keeper financial consumer 2020 social researchers house prices technology thrive population panel Real Estate "know the times" internships Generation Y school land of the middle class mother's day office forecast Financial Planning Association rent FPA EFF conference presentation internet social researcher plans sector wide daily commute resource learning social research village not for profit wolloomooloo entrepreneurs of today small business mythbusting politics capital cities living australian communities forum society trends social lives media release apartment outsourcing relevant eliane high density apartments 2017 holidays dream housing market TDE sports wedding baby 2016 wealth distribution media activity research Real Estate Institute of Victoria demographics Deaths spend New South Wales report Territory Sydney keynote speaker sun grandparents mover and shaker Australian Families know the times young people proactive Aussies growth community event Do It Yourself forum newspaper focus groups friendship baby name trends stay home marriage middle class environment demographic aged care puzzle