To what extent is Australia’s population ageing? The application of traditional and alternative ageing measures
Background Most studies of population ageing apply traditional ageing measures, such as the number or percentage of the population aged 65 and above. In the context of gradually improving health and mortality at age 65, the use of a fixed age cut-off to define ‘older age’ needs to be revisited.
Aim The aim of this paper is to re-assess the extent of population ageing in Australia and the States and Territories over past decades and in the future as indicated by both traditional and alternative ageing measures.
Data and methods Both numerical and structural ageing was measured using age cut-offs for the older population of (i) age 65, (ii) the age at which there is 15 years life expectancy remaining, and (iii) the age at which the mortality rate is above 0.01. The data consisted of life tables, population estimates and population projections.
Results Both traditional and alternative ageing measures indicate considerable past and future numerical ageing. Structural ageing has been strong since the 1970s in terms of the percentage aged 65+, but the alternative ageing measures paint quite a different picture of structural ageing both in the past and in the future.
Conclusions The use of a traditional measure of population ageing in combination with a mortality-based measure, such as the population with remaining life expectancy of under 15 years, is helpful for demographic analyses of ageing.