The changing migration patterns of the 65+ population in Australia, 1976-2016


Background  The demand for amenity, health and aged care, and social support are of concern to rapidly ageing communities. Understanding how the migration trends of the 65+ population compare to movements made by the rest of the population can assist in planning for future growth.

Aim  The aim of the paper is to understand how the migration patterns of the 65+ population in Australia have changed over the past forty years in comparison to the total population.

Data and methods  Five-year interval census migration data were used to examine the migration flows of the 65+ population between 1976 and 2016. A range of metrics was used to measure the level or intensity of internal migration and its impact on the redistribution of the population at the national level. Regional net migration rates were then used to compare net gains and losses between regions and track changes over time in the direction of flows across the Australian settlement system.

Results  The propensity to migrate declined over the forty years for all ages but proportionally less for the over 65+ group. Gains in the 65+ population were spread across a range of middle-density regions with losses from the most urban and remote areas. The migration patterns observed in the total population were less spatially consistent, with periods of gain in some remote regions.

Conclusions  The system-wide metrics showed an overall decline in migration propensity between regions and changes in the redistributive impact of migration by age. The net migration maps and scatterplots revealed large changes in the regional growth and decline of the 65+ population as new destinations emerged in regional Victoria and New South Wales.


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How to Cite
Borsellino, R. (2020). The changing migration patterns of the 65+ population in Australia, 1976-2016. Australian Population Studies, 4(1), 4-19. Retrieved from
Research Papers