4914.0.55.001 - Newsletter: Age Matters, Dec 2003  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/12/2003   
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PROPORTION IN WORKING AGES SET TO DECLINE

According to the latest population projections released in Population Projections, Australia, 2002-2101 (cat. no. 3222.0), Australia's working-age population (those aged between 15–64 years) is projected to decline.

Although the number of Australians aged 15–64 years will increase over the next 50 years - from 13.2 million in 2002 to between 13.4 million and 17.7 million in 2051 - those aged 15-64 years as a proportion of the total population will decline from 67% in 2002 to between 57% and 59% in 2051. The proportion of the population aged 65 years and over will increase from 13% at June 2002 to between 27% and 30% in 2051. While those aged 85 years and over will increase from 1.4% to between 6% and 9% over this time. This age group will experience the highest growth rates of all age groups.

Depending on future levels of fertility, mortality and migration, Australia's total population is projected to increase from 19.7 million in 2002 to between 23 million and 31 million by 2051, and between 19 million and 38 million by 2101. The growth of Australia's population is projected to slow down during the next 50 years, from 1% per year during the first ten years of the projection period to 0.2% per year between 2041 and 2051.

State and territory populations

All states and territories, except Tasmania and South Australia, will increase in population by 2051. Queensland will increase by 73%, the Northern Territory by 55% and Western Australia by 49%. New South Wales will remain the most populous state in Australia, while Victoria will be replaced by Queensland as the second most populous state. Western Australia will increase its share of Australia's population, while South Australia's and Tasmania's shares will decline. South Australia's population will peak in 2027 and Tasmania's in 2012.

All capital cities will experience a larger percentage growth than the respective balances, resulting in further concentration of Australia's population in the capital cities. Sydney and Melbourne will remain the two most populous cities in Australia. Darwin will exceed Hobart in population from 2045.

Further details are in Population Projections, Australia, 2002-2101 (cat. no. 3222.0) or contact Katrina Phelan (02) 6252 6573, email katrina.phelan@abs.gov.au.