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4914.0.55.001 - Age Matters, Jun 2011  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/06/2011  Final
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LATEST FINDINGS

On this page:
Disability, Ageing and Carers
Persons Not in the Labour Force
Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation
Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index


DISABILITY, AGEING AND CARERS

The Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) collects data about people with a disability, older people (defined as those aged 60 years and over), and the people who provide assistance to those two groups. It was most recently conducted in 2009, and includes a household component (comprising private and non-private dwellings but excluding cared accommodation), as well as a cared-accommodation component (which collects a smaller range of data). The survey is of particular relevance to those interested in ageing statistics, as not only is age included in many of the data cubes, but a number of data items focus specifically on people aged 60 years and over. The article below provides a brief snapshot of the type of information on older people that can be found in Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2009 (cat. no. 4430.0).

Living arrangements

In 2009 there were approximately 4.1 million people aged 60 years and older, with the vast majority (93%) living in private dwellings. Of those older people living in non-private dwellings, the majority (54%) lived in some sort of cared accommodation, including nursing homes or aged care hostels (50%) and hospitals (3.0%). The proportion of people living in cared accommodation increased with age, rising from 1.1% of all 60-79 year-olds to 15% of people aged 80 years and above. Age also increased the likelihood of someone living by themselves, with 20% of 60-79 year-olds living alone in a private dwelling, compared to 34% of those 80 years and over.

Disability prevalence

The disability rate rose steadily with age. There were 36% of people aged 60-64 years who had a reported disability in 2009, compared with 48% of people aged 70-74 years and 88% of those aged 90 years and over. Overall, 48% of older people reported having a disability. The disability rates for some of the older age groups decreased from 2003. The rate fell from 59% to 54% for those aged 75-79 years, and from 70% to 65% for those aged 80-84 years between 2003 and 2009.

When asked about their need for assistance, 37% of older people were reported to need assistance with at least one activity. The three most common areas of need for assistance were property maintenance (21%), health care (19%) and household chores (16%). As people got older, they were more likely to need help with core activities (self-care, mobility and communication). For example, only 5% of 60-64 year-olds reported needing assistance with self-care compared to 53% of those 90 years and over. Of all people with a disability living in households, nearly half (48%) of those aged 85 years and over reported receiving assistance with core activities.

About 46% of older people living in a private dwelling reported having a disability. For those aged 60-79 years, the disability rate was higher amongst those living alone than it was for those living with others (49% compared to 40%). For people aged 80 years and above, the disability rate amongst those two groups was the same (68%). Of all older people living in a non-private dwelling, nearly four-fifths (79%) had a reported disability. Older people living in cared accommodation were much more likely to have a reported disability than those living in another type of non-private dwelling (97% compared to 58%).

Community participation

SDAC asks people aged 60 years and above living in households about their participation in the community. In 2009, the vast majority of older people in households had contacted their family or friends in the previous three months, with 93% communicating through the telephone, 90% receiving visits at home and 85% visiting their relatives or friends away from home. The participation rates of some community activities varied according to living arrangements. For example, older people living in a private dwelling with others were more likely to have gone to a restaurant or club in the previous three months (70%) than older people living alone (65%). The corresponding proportion for all older people living in households was 69%, up from 65% in 2003. Conversely, participation in church activities in the previous three months dropped from 28% to 25% between 2003 and 2009.

In 2009, 37% of older people living in households had attended the cinema in the previous 12 months, an increase from 34% in 2003. Other popular cultural activities included visiting libraries (31%) and attending theatres or concerts (29%). Older people living with others were more likely than those living alone to participate in some activities, such as visiting animal parks or botanic gardens (27% compared to 19%), and attending sporting events as a spectator (25% compared to 19%). Overall, the main activity in the previous 12 months of nearly half of older people living in households was visiting relatives or friends (45%), followed by going to a restaurant or club (12%).

Computer and Internet use

There has been a large increase in the number of older people using computers and the Internet since SDAC was last conducted. In 2009, 47% of people aged 60 years and over living in households had used a computer in the previous 12 months, compared to only 28% in 2003. Those who lived in a private dwelling with others were far more likely to use computers (50%) than those who lived alone (38%). The most common place where a computer was used in the previous 12 months was at home (43%).

The growth in Internet use has been even more dramatic. The proportion of older people using the Internet in the previous 12 months almost doubled from 21% in 2003 to 41% in 2009. Home Internet use experienced the greatest rate of growth over that period, rising from 17% to 38%. Of those who used the Internet at home in the previous 12 months, 97% used it for 'Personal or private' purposes, and 30% for 'Work or business'.

Income

There were 2.2 million Australians aged 60 years and over in 2009 who reported that their principal source of income was a 'Government pension or allowance.' This makes up 57% of older people living in households, down from 63% in 2003. People with a reported disability were more likely to list government benefits as their main income source than those without a disability (71% compared to 45%), with the proportion being highest for individuals with a profound core activity limitation (84%).

The proportion of older people selecting 'Wages or salary, own unincorporated business income' as their primary source of income jumped from 13% in 2003 to 19% in 2009. The group with the largest increase over this time period was those with no reported disability (rising from 20% to 27%). There were also 20% of older people in 2009 who reported that their principal source of personal income was 'Superannuation or annuity, dividends or interest, other private income.' This was the principal source for 17% of people with a disability, compared to 23% of those with no reported disability.

For more information on this publication and access to data cubes, please go to Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2009 (cat. no. 4430.0).


PERSONS NOT IN THE LABOUR FORCE

The participation rate of older people in the labour force has become increasingly important, due to Australia's ageing population. An ABS publication containing data that measure the potential supply of labour not reflected in employment and unemployment statistics is Persons Not in the Labour Force, Australia Sep 2010 (cat. no. 6220.0). This publication presents information on people aged 15 and over who are considered neither employed nor unemployed. Statistics are obtained from the Persons Not in the Labour Force survey, which is conducted on an annual basis. This snapshot will briefly summarise some of the results from the survey that are most relevant to older people. Unless otherwise defined, the term 'older people' will refer to people aged 55 years and over.

Overview

In September 2010, there were over 3.3 million people aged 55 years and over not in the labour force. The proportion not in the labour force was only 27% for those aged 55-59 years, but increased to 94% for the 70 years and over age group. More than half (57%) of people not in the labour force were aged 55 years and over.

Women were more likely than men to not be in the labour force. For every age group except those aged 15-19 years, the proportion not in the labour force was higher for females. This gap between the sexes was largest amongst people aged 60-64 years, where 56% of females were not in the labour force compared to 37% of males.

Main activity when not in labour force

The most common main activity of older people not in the labour force was ‘Retired or voluntarily inactive' (49%), followed by ‘Home duties’ (22%). The proportion of people who were retired or voluntary inactive increased substantially once people reached 60, with 37% of people aged 60-64 years not in the labour force saying their main activity was being retired or voluntarily inactive, compared with just 20% of those aged 55-59 years. The corresponding proportion for those aged 70 years and over was 59%. Of all older people not in the labour force, men were more likely than women to say that they were retired or voluntarily inactive (60% compared to 42%), and were also more likely to report that their main activity was having a long-term health condition or disability (15% compared to 8%). On the other hand, older females were more likely than males to report their main activity as 'Home duties' (33% compared to 8%).

Marginal attachment to the labour force

People who are marginally attached to the labour force satisfy some, but not all, of the criteria required to be classified as unemployed. They want to work and are actively looking for work, but are not available to start work in the reference week, or they want to work and are available to start within four weeks, but are not actively looking for work. In September 2010, there were 198,000 people aged 55 years and over who had marginal attachment to the labour force, of which the vast majority (97%) were not actively looking for employment despite wanting to work and being available to start. Around half of those in this latter situation (51%) identified personal or family issues as the main reason they weren't actively looking for work, such as having a long-term health condition or disability (17%).

Older people with marginal attachment to the labour force were especially likely to be considered a discouraged job seeker, with over half (54%) of discouraged job seekers being aged 55 years and over. Discouraged jobseekers are people who wanted to work and were available to start work within four weeks, but were not actively looking for a job because they believed they would not find one. Of older people in this category, 66% thought that employers would consider them too old.

According to Treasury's 2010 Intergenerational Report, there is scope for Australia to increase participation rates in the mature age group. Discouraged job seekers are of particular interest because they are seen as a potential supply of labour if labour market conditions were to change. The last decade has seen a decline in the proportion of people aged 55-64 years not in the labour force. According to data published in Labour Force Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery (cat. no. 6291.0.55.001), this proportion decreased from 50% in September 2001, to 36% in September 2010. The decrease was most pronounced for the 60-64 years age group, where non-participation in the labour force dropped from 64% to 46%.

Did not want to work

A person who does not want to work is considered to be without marginal attachment to the labour force. Of all people aged 55 years and over not in the labour force, 85% did not want to work - the same proportion as in 2009. This proportion was 93% for those aged 70 years and over and not in the labour force, in comparison with 63% for people aged 55-59 years and only 45% for those aged 35-44 years. The group with the highest proportion of people not wanting to work was females aged 70 years and over and not in the labour force (95%).

For more information on this publication and access to data cubes, please go to Persons Not in the Labour Force, Australia, Sep 2010 (cat. no. 6220.0).
PARTICIPATION IN SPORT AND PHYSICAL RECREATION

In December 2010, the ABS released results from the 2009-10 Multipurpose Household Survey relating to participation in sport and physical recreation. This topic, which was previously conducted in 2005-06, collected data on the characteristics of persons aged 15 years and over who actively participated in sport and physical recreation activities. This snapshot will focus on the information that can be found about older people in Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation, Australia, 2009-10 (cat. no. 4177.0). For the purposes of this article, the term 'older people' will refer to people aged 55 years and over.

Overview

In 2009-10, over half of Australians aged 55 years and over (54% or 2.9 million older people) participated in sport and physical recreation at least once during the preceding 12 months. Participation rates decreased with age, with the rate falling from 79% among those aged 15-17 years, to 61% of people aged 55-64 years and 48% of people aged 65 years and over. For the 55-64 years age group, females were more likely than males to participate in sport and physical recreation (64% compared to 58%). There was no significant difference in the participation rate of males and females for those aged 65 years and over (50% and 47% respectively).

Compared to 2005-06, the number of older people participating in sport and physical recreation rose from 2.6 million to 2.9 million in 2009-10. As a proportion of the population however, there was no significant difference in the participation of older people.

State/territory of usual residence

Among the states and territories, the highest participation rate for older people in 2009-10 was recorded in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) (70%). The participation rate in the ACT for those aged 55-64 years was 73%, and the rate for the rest of the states and territories ranged from 57% (Northern Territory) to 65% (Western Australia). For those aged 65 years and over, the participation rate was again the highest in the ACT (66%) while it was below 50% in New South Wales, South Australia (both 45%) and Queensland (47%). The ACT had the greatest difference in participation between older males and females, with the participation rate being 76% for older women but only 63% for older men.

Type and frequency of participation

Non-organised activities were more popular among older people than organised activities. Around 19% of older people took part in an organised sport and physical recreation activity, while over double that percentage took part in a non-organised activity (46%). However people aged 65 years and over were more likely to take part in organised activities only than those aged 55-64 years (10% compared to 7%). Conversely, the proportion of people taking part in non-organised activities decreased from 42% for those aged 55-64 years, to 29% for those aged 65 years and over.

Despite the fact that the participation rate among older people was lower than younger age groups, those people aged 55 years and over who did participate in sport and physical recreation were more likely to do so 105 times or more a year (58%, compared to 49% of participants under 55 years). Among those aged 55-64 years, females were more likely than males to exercise 105 times or more a year (61% compared to 54%). Of all older people participating, 8% did so between 1 to 12 times a year.

Popular sports and activities

The most popular activities among older people were walking for exercise (30% participating), aerobics, fitness or gym activities (9%) and golf (7%). The popularity of walking largely increased with age, although there was a dip for the oldest age group of 65 years and over. On the other hand, the participation rates of many other activities declined with age, with some of the more vigorous sports (such as Australian Rules and touch football) having a negligible amount of older people playing them. Even participation rates for aerobics/fitness/gym activities largely decreased as people aged, falling from 11% for those aged 55-64 years, to 7% for those aged 65 years and over. The activities most popular amongst the older age groups were the more sedate sports. Lawn bowls for instance, was most popular with people aged 65 years and over (5%). The participation rate for golf meanwhile, was highest among those aged 55-64 years (7%).

Facilities used

Just as walking was the most popular activity among older people, the most common facility used by older people was an outdoor facility such as a park, beach or walking trail (62%). People aged 65 years and over were much less likely to use these facilities than those aged 55-64 years (57% compared to 66%), which was also consistent with trends in the walking participation rate.

The second most common facility used by older participants was a structured facility such as a gym, public pool or court. The popularity of this facility largely declined with age, and older people were significantly less likely to use it than people aged less than 55 years (41% compared to 57%).

For more information on this publication and access to data cubes, please go to Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation, Australia, 2009-10 (cat. no. 4177.0).
PENSIONER AND BENEFICIARY LIVING COST INDEX

The Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (PBLCI) measures the effect that changes in prices have on the out-of-pocket living expenses of age pensioners, and other households whose principal source of income is government benefits. It is released every three months.

Since the last edition of Age Matters, the PBLCI was released for the December 2010 quarter and the March 2011 quarter. The all-groups Index rose 0.7% for the December 2010 quarter, down from 1% in the September 2010 quarter. The increase over the December quarter was mainly due to rises in food (+2.6%), housing (+1.1%) and alcohol and tobacco (+0.9%). For the March 2011 quarter, the Index rose 1.9%. The most significant price rises for this quarter were for health (+6.7%), transportation (+3.6%) and food (+3.3%). The most recent release shows that since the PBLCI series began in June quarter 2007, it has risen 15.2%, compared to 12.2% for the Consumer Price Index.

For more information, please go to Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index, Mar 2011 (cat. no. 6467.0).

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