Australia and the First Australians

Monday, September 28, 2015

Currently there are more than 720,000 indigenous Australians – around 3% of the total population. The indigenous population is increasing at 2.3% per annum- significantly faster than national population growth of around 1.4%. By 2026 the number of indigenous Australians will be almost 940,000 and in 2030 the number will exceed 1,000,000.

The proportion of the population that is indigenous varies significantly from less than 1% in some areas of the larger cities, to more than 70% in the Northern Territory- in Arnhem Land.

The largest proportion of Australia’s indigenous population lives in NSW (31%) followed by Queensland (28%) and then Western Australia (13%). While the Northern Territory has a higher proportion of indigenous people than any other state or territory, it is home to just 10% of the total indigenous population.

Based on the faster growth trends of the Queensland indigenous population (2.5%) compared to that of NSW (2.1%), by 2037, the state with the largest indigenous population will be Queensland (356,000). While all states and territories are experiencing natural increase of indigenous Australians through births, NSW is experiencing an annual net loss of more than 500 indigenous persons per year to other states while Queensland is experiencing an interstate net gain of around 300. Additionally the remote and very remote areas of Australia are losing almost 900 indigenous Australians each year as they move to the larger regional areas (600 person gain) and major cities (300 person gain).

For an in-depth visual look at Australia’s indigenous population simply click on this interactive map, zoom in to look at specific regions across Australia, or hover over an area to read the data.

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The Intergenerational Report

Monday, March 30, 2015

Earlier this month the Australian Government's Intergenerational Report was released, ‘outlining and assessing the long-term sustainability of current Government policies and how changes to Australia’s population size and age profile may impact on economic growth, workforce and public finances over the next 40 years’. (Aust Gov).

Social researchers and demographers Mark McCrindle and Claire Madden have given thought, analysis and media commentary on the report’s content, as well as implications this has for Australia moving forward.

Mark McCrindle on the Intergenerational report

Claire Madden on the Intergenerational report

1. Is increased immigration the answer to work participation shortages?

Currently, three fifths of our population increase is through migration with only two fifths from natural increase, so it’s already pretty high by historic levels. Also, migration doesn’t necessarily reduce the average age, since it is 37 for both an Australian and similarly a migrant coming in. So while increased migration meets the immediate workforce need, it will also add to the ageing population. Certainly it has been critical to Australia’s growth and will remain important into the future however it is just one part of the solution. The Intergenerational Report addresses the three P’s – population, productivity and participation. Participation refers to how the workforce can allow people to work later in life, as well as how workforce options and flexibility can build the participation of more young people and women. So apart from population factors, participation and productivity hold the key to future economic prosperity.

2. What jobs will help and pop up over time?

With the decline of manufacturing and the whole industrial base in Australia, there has always been talk of Australia moving to this knowledge economy and service jobs. I think from an older Australian perspective, if we do want to work through our 60s and 70s it is going to have to be in more technology-type roles rather than manual roles. But that’s part of the problem of the third P – productivity – we must ensure that we add the jobs to accommodate this and jobs that older people, students and others want to take up.

3. What does this mean for our cities?

Australia’s capital cities make up a significant proportion of Australia’s population. Because we are adding more than a million people every three years, we need to accommodate and plan for that – the infrastructure has to be there. People are not moving further and further out they are moving into the infill, into vertical communities. Infrastructure investment is critical to maintain the quality of life that Australians have come to expect.

4. Are intergenerational households set to increase?

Due to the increase in the cost of housing, we are going to see intergenerational households increase. Young people who can’t afford the $900,000 median house price in Sydney will be staying at home longer, as well as older Australians that don’t want to move into supported aged care, who will move back in with their families. So we are going to see a lot of change in household structures – where we are living and how we are living.

5. Will 2055 present a better experience of living in Sydney than today?

If you look at Sydney now it’s as good as it’s ever been. In fact the lifestyle is such that people are moving into the inner suburbs and we are seeing the renewal of areas that just a decade ago were not desirable. So I think we can find solutions. As this report says we do have to work, not harder – people don’t want to work longer or harder – but smarter. We’ve got to find some innovation skills and technology skills to solve the 21st century problems.

6. What challenges do Gen Y face in the wake of Australia’s Ageing Population?

It is certainly a challenge with the ageing population, the impact on government budgets, meeting the growing service demands, workforce shortages, leadership succession, wealth transfer and generational change. Keep in mind that the ageing of our population is a good news story. We are living longer, active later and able to work and contribute far more than any previous generation. But expectations will have to be managed. We have found in our research that some in Gen Y have a lifestyle expectation that they will be able to start their economic life in the manner which they have seen their parents finish theirs but such growth and gains are not always possible and should not be expected.

7. How does Gen Y’s situation differ from that of Gen X and the Baby Boomer generation?

The Baby Boomers certainly benefited from the post war boom, an increase in house worth and have had four decades of an economic boom. They’ve had stable economy and rising incomes over that time. And while we are at a point where the earnings have increased over the last couple of decades, wages have not kept up with the pace of house prices. So four decades ago the average earnings were $7600 in a year, while today it is around $72,000 so quite an increase, almost tenfold. But over that same period of time houses have increased by thirtyfold.

8. Considering the difficulty for Gen Y to become first home buyers, will we see a big preference shift among young Australians with regards to buying their first home?

The desire to buy a home is deep in the Aussie psyche, it’s the Aussie dream to have a place of your own but not necessarily a detached house with a backyard and a shed and a hills hoist. The Baby Boomers could pick up an average house in Sydney for $28,000 a couple of decades ago – now the average Sydney house price is over $850,000 so that is a dramatic change. Apart from the affordability challenge of such a home, there are changing lifestyles as well with new generations seeking not just a suburban life but an urban one, closer to public transport and more walkable communities. We are witnessing in Australia right now massive generational transitions.

Gen Z and Gen Alpha Infographic Update

Wednesday, February 04, 2015


We are in the midst of a generational landmark, as Australia’s “Digital Integrators” (Generation Z) began sitting their final school exams last year, and the first Generation Alpha’s begin their schooling career this year. Below we provide an explanation about each of these generations, and some interesting facts about them.


The students of our world today who are currently at school and university are the children of Generation X, the cohort that follows Generation Y, and who are born between 1995 and 2009. They are Generation Z.

Generation Z are the largest generation ever, comprising around 20% of Australia’s population and almost 30% of the world’s population. Globally there are almost 2 billion of them.

They are the first fully global generation, shaped in the 21st century, connected through digital devices, and engaged through social media.


  • AKA ‘generation connected’ or ‘dot com kids’
  • 1 in 2 predicted to obtain a uni degree
  • By 2025, will make up 27% of the workforce
  • Predicted to work 17 jobs, 5 careers and live in 15 homes in their lifetime
  • 2,000,000,000 Gen Zs globally
  • Use slanguage like ‘Cray cray’, ‘Defs’, ‘Fomo’ and ‘YOLO’


Following our Gen Zeds are our pre-schooler and kindergarteners of today – Gen Alpha.

Born since the year 2010 they are aged 0-5, they are the children of Gen Y, and there are 1.6 million of them in Australia. They are truly the millennial generation, born and shaped fully in the 21st century, and the first generation that we will see in record numbers in the 22nd century as well. They are logged on and linked up – known as ‘digital natives’. They are the most materially endowed and technologically literate generation to ever grace the planet!


  • 2.5 million Gen Alpha’s born around the globe each week
  • Most popular boys names: Oliver, William, Jack, Noah, Jackson
  • Most popular girls names: Charlotte, Olivia, Ava, Emily and Mia

What will Australia look like in 2034, the year when first cohort of Generation Alphas are in their early 20s?

  1. The population of Melbourne will be 5.9 million (that’s larger than the whole of Victoria today).
  2. Australia will have reached 32 million (up from 23 million currently).
  3. The global population will be 8.8 billion (that’s twice what it was when the parents of Generation Alpha were born in the early 1980’s).
  4. India will have surpassed China as the world’s most populous nation.
  5. There will be more Australians aged over 60 than under 20 for the first time in our history (a sign of our ageing population).
  6. Australia’s median age (where half the population is younger and half is older) will be 40. It was 29 when the parents of Gen Alpha were born.
  7. The most common household type will be the couple, no kids households, for the first time ever eclipsing the nuclear family of today (couple with children).

For a visual representation of the data, please see our Gen Z and Gen Alpha Infographic.

Big Australia [in the media]

Friday, February 07, 2014

Big Australia McCrindleOur country has grown more than 50% since 1984, up from 15 million people to 23 million in just three decades. Recent research shows that if this growth pattern continues, we could hit a population of more than 40 million by 2050!

What does this mean for us and future generations? Mark McCrindle joins Network Ten’s Wake Up to discuss the trends and implications of Australia’s rapid population growth.

Behind the record-breaking growth are increasing births, decreasing birth rates, and greater migration than ever. We’re setting record births (300,000 births per year), and we have half as many deaths as births as we are living longer.

The natural increase accounts for only 40% of the growth, however, while 60% is the result of net migration with 500,000 arrivals per year (and half as many departures). These numbers, added together, equal a total growth of 400,000 per year.

While many Australians fear that a growing population is only increasing the strain on our roads and access to services, population growth isn’t all bad news. Domestic demand that is being created by a growing population has kept Australia from entering economic depression. With more people buying goods and services than ever before and more workers available for the labour force, the economy keeps a steady hold despite a rapidly ageing population.

To keep things in perspective, America with a similar landmass has 311 million people, and, with a bit of planning, Australia too can cater for a growing population.

Planning for future growth is key – including adequate infrastructure, town planning, and improving the availability and access to health care and education services. It is by looking ahead at the trend-lines that Australia will effectively cope with a rapidly increasing population, especially across our densely populated urban centres.

See our Big Australia and Australia at 23 Million infographics on this topic:

Big Australia infographic | Population and size comparison with other countries Australia at 23 million infographic | a mid sized country, but world beating growth

Tight pockets are moving Aussies away from gift-giving this Christmas

Sunday, December 08, 2013

In the lead-up to Christmas, McCrindle Research surveyed 500+ Australians and found just 1 in 5 are planning to spend more this Christmas.

It’s ‘save, save, save’ this Christmas for Aussie families

Belts are tight and people are still uncertain on where the economy is going, with 48% of Australians saying that the economy will be worse next year. Over a third (33%) of Australians are planning to spend less this year than last year (up from 29% who reported the same thing a year ago).

“The savings mindset that emerged in Australia post-GFC has moved from a reactionary blip to a thrifty reality. Half of all Australians are going to keep their financial belts tight and spend the same as last year with another third planning on reducing their spend,” reports social researcher Mark McCrindle.

Generation Y (those 19-33) are more likely to spend more this Christmas than any other generation, with one third (32%) indicating that they plan to spend more on Christmas this year (compared with 15% of Gen Xers, 14% of Baby Boomers, and 15% of Builders).

A third of Australians are purchasing at least half their gifts online

Online purchases are up from last year, with 7 in 10 of Australians (cf. 6 in 10 in 2012) reporting that they plan on purchasing gifts online. In fact, 30% of Australians are buying at least half their gifts online this year.

While all Australians have caught on to online shopping, intention to make online purchases varies across the generations. While over 83% of Gen Ys and 80% of Gen Xs aim to purchase some of their gifts online, the same is true of only 63% of Baby Boomers and 48% of the Builder Generation.

McCrindle says, “Technology has been enthusiastically embraced by consumers as a means of saving money with most Australians doing at least some of their Christmas shopping online and a third buying half or most of their gifts online.”

Gift-giving down on the list of what Aussies look forward to

Despite its strong commercial focus, gift-giving is Number 6 on the list of what Australians love about Christmas. McCrindle explains: “This research shows that as the money spent on Christmas has been trimmed, the embracing of the broader aspects of the season has increased. In priority order, Christmas is about family, friends, food, festivities and faith elements (the Christmas story and carols).”

Half of Australians unhappy that Christmas has lost its meaning

Almost 8 in 10 Australians (79%) say that Christmas is ‘becoming too commercial and all about getting stuff,’ with the same percentage stating that Christmas has lost some of its Christian meaning.

1 in 2 Australians (49%) are unhappy about the loss of Christian meaning associated with Christmas, a percentage which is much higher for the Baby Boomer generation (62%) and significantly lower for Generation Y (29%).

This research highlighted the generational transitions that Australia is currently experiencing. Australians of retirement age were unanimous in their regret that Christmas has lost some of its Christian meaning and almost 2 in 3 Baby Boomers agreed however less than half of Generation X and less than a third of Generation Y felt this way.

Aussies glad that Christmas is in summer

While a third of Aussies aren’t sure of their preference, half of Australians indicate that they are glad that Christmas is in summer rather than winter.

“While Australians have grown up with lots of scenes in movies and televisions of winter yuletide, most Australians are not in fact dreaming of a white Christmas. In Australia, Christmas is synonymous with beach holidays, cricket, BBQs and sunburn – and while 1 in 5 are partial to a winter Christmas, half of Australians are glad about it being in summer,” says McCrindle.

Click here to download the full research summary.

The Downageing Generation

Monday, September 09, 2013

Australians are living longer than ever before and this remarkable growth in longevity is the primary cause of our ageing population. 

With Australians living longer, they are also working later and remaining active as grandparents more and later in life than ever before.

Many older Australians are in a life stage significantly younger than their age. 20th Century expectations of age can no longer be applied in the 21st Century, as traditional demographics don’t match new psychographics. From technology uptake to working longer, older Australians are not just “retired and wired” but working, leading and influencing later in life than has ever been seen.

Here’s a demographic snapshot of the downageing situation:

Comparative analysis of Australia’s 60-year-olds



National population

The total population has more than doubled.

10 million

23 million

Average age of becoming a grandparent

Grandparents are older chronologically but younger psychologically.



Life expectancy at birth

We can expect to live 12 years longer today than in 1953.


F: 73


F: 84

Life expectancy at 65

65’s of today are like 58’s of a generation ago in terms of longevity.



Source: McCrindle Research, ABS

Australia’s new grandparents: Younger than their parents were at the same age

Australia’s new grandparents, aged 60 are the Baby Boomers. Since the Boomers (born 1946-1964), we’ve seen Generation X (born 1965-1979), Gen Y (born 1980-1994) and this year Generation Z (born since 1995) enter adulthood and the Boomers are now grandparenting Generation Alpha.

But they are a generation of “downagers” – younger than their parents were at the same age, younger than their age would suggest, and based on the life expectancy rates, a 65 year old grandparent is more like a 58 year old of a generation ago.

Statistical summary of today’s downageing population

  • Demographic mid-life for an Australian has been pushed back to 50 years for a male, and 52 for a female in terms of adult years lived (since turning 18) and adult years to go (32 years lived since turning 18 and 32 years life expectancy for a male aged 50, and 34 adult years lived and 34 to go on average for a female).
  • The median age of employed persons in industries such as Education and Health is now 45 years – so while there are many workers in their 20’s, there are many in their 60’s, resulting in a median age of 45.
  • Today's grandparents are a working generation: 1 in 4 males aged 68 are employed full time, and 1 in 10 females aged 68 are employed full time.

Remember that many of today’s 60-something leaders have been in leadership since their 20’s and 30’s – they were needed during the boom years of the 50’s and 60’s. They also see no need to stop leading – having gained experience through decades and a lot of life left, they continue leading many of Australia’s businesses and industries.

For further research and an occupation breakdown of workers 65+, see our entry Older Workers, Downagers, and Redefining Retirement.

Australia in 2034: The World of Generation Alpha

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Generation Alpha are those born since 2010. They’ll be the largest generation our world has ever seen, the most technologically aware and the most influential.

What will Australia look like in 2034, the year when first cohort of Generation Alphas are in their early 20s?

1. The population of Melbourne will be 5.9 million (that’s larger than the whole of Victoria today).

2. Australia will have reached 32 million (up from 23 million currently).

3. The global population will be 8.8 billion (that’s twice what it was when the parents of Generation Alpha were born in the early 1980’s).

4. India will have surpassed China as the world’s most populous nation.

5. There will be more Australians aged over 60 than under 20 for the first time in our history (a sign of our ageing population).

6. Australia’s median age (where half the population is younger and half is older) will be 40. It was 29 when the parents of Gen Alpha were born.

7. The most common household type will be the couple, no kids households, for the first time ever eclipsing the nuclear family of today (couple with children).

Source: McCrindle Research, ABS

Note: Projections are based on the current growth rates: 1.1% for the world, 1.6% Australia, 1.88% Melbourne, China and India’s numeric growth, and ABS median age forecasts and household type data.

Mark McCrindle's book The ABC of XYZ gives insights and practical strategies to help parents, teachers and managers bridge the gaps and engage with each generation. However, this book is more than a research-based reference work or valuable 'how to' guide - it is also a very interesting read with facts and lists to which members of each generation will reminisce. 

Beyond Z, Meet Generation Alpha: McCrindle Research

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.

Australia's Population at 23 Million [in the media]

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Australia hit its population milestone of 23 million residents last week on the 23rd April. We kept a keen eye on the ABS' Population Clock in the lead-up, and have pulled together some stats and facts which contributed to this milestone. It has received a wide range of media coverage, listed below.

Read the full summary about Australia's population growth.
Take a look at our infographic on the Population of Australia.
Watch the video of Mark McCrindle explaining Australia at 23 million

For a more comprehensive look at McCrindle Research in the media, click here to go to our Media page.

Australia's Population Milestone [VIDEO]

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mark McCrindle on The Morning Show, Channel SevenSocial researcher and demographer Mark McCrindle joined Larry and Kylie on The Morning Show on April 24, 2013 - the morning after Australia's population hit 23 million.

In this segment Mark dissects how Australia's mammoth population growth has occurred, how we stack up compared with other nations, and also what this means for sustainability for future growth.

Here are some of the stats to give us a glimpse of what this population growth looks like:

  • Increase of 1.7% per year, beating the US, UK, India and China
  • Twice as many births than deaths
  • Population has doubled in the last 47 years to reach 23 million
  • Increase of 382,500 people in the last year
  • Growing by a million people every 2.5 years.

Keep scrolling to see Australia Street and Know the Times, information-rich animation we designed at McCrindle Research to give a visual insight of Australia's demographics. 

Australia Street

Know the Times

Source: ABS, McCrindle Research.

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