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 Top 5 Trends for 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Rise of Local

As our cities grow, Australians are adopting approaches we see in other mega cities where a local rather than a citywide identity emerges. Australia’s capitals are becoming cities of villages or regions where residents live, work and interact in a part of their city rather than the traditional commuter approach of suburb living but CBD working. The year ahead will see the rise of the walkable community, the ongoing gathering at the local shopping strip and the growth in local entertainment precincts rather than the city-centre destinations that used to dominate. As unit living increases along with population growth, Australians are looking to meet the timeless human needs of relational health and community connection in their geographical context. From knowing the local barista to supporting the local grocer, increased events in local parks, increased patronage at local clubs and venues and growth in volunteering to support community groups, 2017 will see the rise of local.

Growth of Lifestyle Cities

Last year Sydney hit the population milestone of 5 million and Melbourne is not only growing faster but it is seeing house price increases exceed that of Sydney. The size and associated costs of living in Australia’s global cities is bringing to the fore the benefits of Australia’s lifestyle cities. These are the regional cities that have the employment, shopping and housing options of the big cities but populations not in the millions but the more sustainable hundred thousand or so. In NSW, cities like Newcastle and Wollongong have reinvented themselves from the industrial cities of the 20th Century to be innovation hubs, university towns, and small business friendly 21st Century lifestyle cities. With property prices a third less than Sydney, it is little surprise that these cities are growing at twice the national population growth rate and are seeing recent house price growth exceed that of Sydney. Beyond these cities, regional centres like Wagga Wagga, Bathurst and Albury Wodonga are also growing faster than the national average. In Victoria the lifestyle cities include Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat and are the state’s fastest growing regions while in Queensland the lifestyle cities include the very fast growing Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast as well as the inland city of Toowoomba and in the West the cities of Bunbury and Busselton make the list.

DIY Everything

Australia has always had a strong can-do attitude and a weekend DIY project in a property-obsessed nation is part of the suburban life. However with tips and tutorials just a few clicks away, and a how-to YouTube video on everything, Australians are extending the DIY approach beyond just handyman skills. From DIY legal processes like property conveyancing, to arranging complex holidays once the domain of travel agents, to the increased consulting of “Dr Google”, Australians are doing their own research and planning in an effort to save money and solve their own problems. In an era where there is an app for everything from instrument tuning to wedding invitation designing, Australians feel more empowered through technology, more informed through online resources and more motivated to save money and so 2017 will see the ongoing rise of DIY everything.

The Gig-Economy

In the span of a generation, the proportion of Australians working on a part-time or casual basis has tripled from 1 in 10 to more than 3 in 10 today. However in the last year or so, online services like Uber, Airtasker, Freelancer and Deliveroo have ushered in the “gig-economy” and more of this generation will end up being freelancers, contractors or contingent workers than ever before. Recent research shows that a third of the national workforce currently participates in contingent work, and more than 3 in 4 employers believe that it will be the norm for people to pick up extra work through job related websites or apps. Technology and new employment options have made it possible, businesses looking to manage their staff costs and liabilities are driving it and Generations Y and Z who value variety, flexibility and opportunity over job security will make the gig economy mainstream in 2017.

Post rationalism

Last year the electorates of the UK and the US showed the political class not to take their votes for granted and that bombarding people with information and expert opinion will not in itself change minds. 2017 will see the continued rise of the post rational era where it is the heart- not just the head that influences customers, staff members and voters. The 2016 Word of the Year was “post-truth” showing that the power to influence is not in the data and statistics but in the story and social validation. Note that this is not an era of “irrationalism” in that society has more knowledge available and Australians are increasingly more formally educated- rather, it is an era where the rationale alone does not alone decide the matter. Those who can communicate with an emotional, visual and relational connection will do better than those who just have a rational connection.

Watch Mark's full interview on The Daily Edition here

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