Transcript: Recent and impending demographic change in Australia: Implications for households, family and housing
Audio transcript (edited)
The following audio presentation is brought to you by the Australian Institute of Family Studies as part of our monthly seminar series in which we showcase national and international research related to the family. The seminars are designed to promote a forum for discussion and debate. They are open to the public and free of charge.
Seminar facilitated & speaker introduced by Dr Lixia Qu
Professor Graeme Hugo AO
Thanks very much and thanks very much for the invitation to be here, I was just saying earlier that I'm old enough to remember all previous locations of the Australian Institute of Family Studies and I notice the sort of upward trend in the quality of the organisations. I've always been a big fan of the institute, as a demographer I think that the institute over the years has been the major research institution which looks at families and households from a demographic perspective and as I will indicate in my talk, I feel that this has tended to be a neglected area of demography not just here but I think in other countries as well. What I'm going to do is to talk a little bit after some introductory remarks about what I think are the major dynamics in the Australian population currently and I think it is important to underline that the population is changing very substantially.
We have not just one of the fastest growing populations in the world among developed countries but I just recently looking at Asian countries and there are only two Asian countries which have a faster population growth than Australia currently. So it is a very dynamic population not just in terms of growth but also in changing composition and distribution. I'll then take a look at changing family numbers and household numbers and changing types and I just want to focus a little bit on some work, recent work which we've done on baby boomer families and households. Demography as you'd know is the study of the changing size, composition and special distribution of the population. And what we try to do is to describe things in a scientific way to explain them and also to project them into the future.
But one criticism which I would tend to make of demography generally and I think here in Australia, is that the basic unit of analysis overwhelming is the person, is the individual and in fact the way in which individuals group together and particularly in terms of the most fundamental social units is crucial and I think we do far too little analysis with that as the unit of analysis. And I think there have been some recent examples in which this neglect in Australia has been quite dramatic and the first one is those of you that analyse census data will be familiar with the ABS Table Builder product which is the basic tool which people use to analyse census data. And certainly in my group we use it very extensively and I must say that I really applaud the ABS in making this product available.
But one recent development is that they have totally split the household files and the person files. Now what this means is that you can't analyse the characteristics of the people inside households or families. There is no ability with that tool to actually bring those two things together and to me it is just indicative of this neglect of households and families in our fundamental data sets and I just am at a loss to understand why this has been the case and I think it's going to be a major barrier to the analysis of households and families from not just an academic perspective but in policy terms a swell.
Another thing which has happened is that one of the organisations abolished by the current government was the National Housing Supply Council and that council was responsible for a major part of the analysis, the demographic analysis of changing households and there is no replacement of that study. So I guess I'm making something of a plea for the household and family dimension to be returned to a place of if not quite equal significance to the analysis of individuals, but I think it does need to be adopted much more significantly in the demographic scene and I'll say something about that too when I get to the conclusion.
Now moving on to Australian population change and as I said the current rate of population growth of 1.6 per cent per annum is not as high as it's been, in fact in 2008/9 it reached our population growth level was the highest it had been since 1960 so we have had a period of very significant population growth which is by all standards substantial. If we look at Australian population growth over the last hundred years or so, what I've done in this diagram is to separate out the two components of natural increase which is births minus deaths which is the bottom part of the diagram, and net migration, the excess of immigration over emigration is the top part of the diagram. There's a couple of striking things there and the first is how significant the post war period has been in our national population growth. When you look at that diagram, the post war period is totally different to the preceding 50 or 60 years for which we have data. It is totally different in terms of the scale and sustained growth of our population, if we look at it in the whole post European settlement period.
But when you look at the two components separately, natural increase has been a pretty consistent contributor to growth, migration on the other hand has been enormously volatile, but substantial throughout the whole post war period and that volatility is a function of different government policy, the economy and so on. And when you notice that too is that the most recent period has been an absolutely unprecedented growth in net migration in its addition to the population. Currently two-thirds of all growth of the population in Australia is attributed to net migration. Now that increase is partly real but it's also partly an artefact of a change by the Bureau of Statistics in the way in which they measure.net migration. So it does, that change has exaggerated the scale of the migration, nevertheless it is I think running in relative terms at an absolute peak.
I want to just look briefly at the natural increase and net migration components of growth and what this diagram shows is the increase in life expectancy at birth which has occurred in Australia over the last hundred years or so, and the way in which I look at it is that during my lifetime we've added about 13 years of extra life to the average Australian which in a single person's lifetime is a massive change. Currently the male expectation in life is around about 79, very close to 80, and for women about 84 or 85. So the gap is still significant although somewhat less than it used to be in the 1970s. The big change though in changing life expectancy hasn't been at age zero. To me the big change has been at age 50. And what I've done here is to take out the life expectancy, the number of years you could expect to live once you get through to age 50 and what this shows is that between 1900 and 1970 there was only a very minor change, especially for males in terms of the number of years you could expect to live if you got through to age 50. Of course and for females it's somewhat higher because of the improvement in the maternal deaths situation.
But look what's happened since 1970. We've added about nine years of extra life to a person turning age 50 in Australia between 1970 and now, so in one generation we've added that nine years of extra life to the average Australian male at age 50. Now when I give these statistics in my first year lecture to 19 and 20 year olds, there's a big yawn, not very interesting at all, but I must say that I look at these statistics with increasing interest each year. But it is a major change and the thing about it is it wasn't expected. You can go through the National Population Inquiry, which was done in the 1970s; there isn't a single mention of this. All of the social planning of the 1970s wasn't based on an increase in life expectancy among older people; they were expecting life expectancy of the young to improve but nothing about this massive improvement in older life expectancy.
And when you think about it, that's a lot of extra person years which is being added to our population and I think to me it has to be part of the discussion that we're having about increasing the age of retirement and so on. There has been this really quite massive change and I think it does tend to be overlooked in population considerations. What it means of course is that the numbers of people who are disabled is increasing quite substantially as well, purely due to this increased life expectancy. When we look at fertility, that's been dramatically changing over the last century or so, and we've had I guess a long term decline in fertility beginning in about the 1870s in Australia and it reached a trough in the 1930s with the depression when it got down to about replacement level in that generation.
But then came the baby boom and I think this diagram shows that boom quite significantly, that we had this very rapid increase in fertility after the war and all countries have baby booms after wars, it's just a thing where people I guess make up for what's missed during the war period. But in Australia it was bigger than other places, but also it was more sustained, it went for about 20 years and of course it wasn't just catching up, it was associated with a whole range of things like full employment and good access to housing and a whole range of things which influenced that fertility. Then in the 1960s was this quite substantial decline and it really levelled off at below replacement level some time in the late 70s and has fairly sort of been relatively stable since then with a small increase during the last decade, which has mostly been maintained. So our current fertility, total fertility rat of about 1.9 is pretty high by OECD standards, even by Asian standards now it is high. I was in Shanghai recently where the total fertility rate is a bit below .7, which is an extremely low level and has enormous implications for the workforce and so on in those Chinese cities.
But immigration has been fundamental and you can't exaggerate when you're talking about the significance of immigration in post war Australia. Half of us are a migrant or the child of a migrant and people tend to think of the United States as being an immigration country but if you take that same figure for the United States, the first and second generation together, it's less than 20 per cent. So Australia is much closer to its immigrant origins than any other comparable OECD country. And the thing which we often think about or don't think about is the one million people that are in Australia at any one time who aren't permanent residents, who are visitors or who are temporary residents. And they're using houses, they're taking part in the workforce, they are a very significant element in our population who aren't counted in most enumerations of the population.
But it's not just numbers that they've added, it's been this massive change in my lifetime from a very monocultural Anglo-Celtic society to one which is one of the most multicultural in the world. I follow censuses very closely but even I was surprised when we analysed the latest census data and found that one in five households in Australia no longer have English as the main language in the home, they speak a language other than English in the home. So we're really talking about some very significant changes within one generation. And it's a particular kind of multiculturalism because we have such diverse groups and no single groups dominating, whereas in most societies with substantial immigration there tend to be single groups, which tend to be dominant but in Australia it is a very diverse multicultural group.
The migration program has undergone some massive changes in recent times. I'd argue and have argued tin the literature that I think we've undergone a paradigm shift in migration since the 90s and one of the elements in that is the increasing focus on skill in our migration program and you can see there how skill has become more dominant within the permanent migration program. But it is also dominant in the temporary migration program, which doesn’t show out there, and so the increasing focus on skill is critical. But a major change is the move towards more temporary migration and we haven't made that adjustment, we haven't made the adjustment in our data collection.
For example our census doesn't collect anything separately on temporary migrants and so much of our migration data in the census is a mix of temporary and permanent migrants, many of them are missed altogether and a lot of our thinking about migration is that people come to Australia and they settle here permanently and that's it. But the reality is that there is so much coming and going. Our migration relationship with Asian countries is not south/north migration, which it is typically depicted as; it is a complex migration system with massive flows in both directions. And we haven't grasped that in terms of our policies with Asia, it's hardly mentioned at all in the Asian Century report and documents associated with it, yet there is this incredible degree of circulation and interaction with Asian countries, which is taking place.
We're increasingly directing where migrants settle and we were doing some work the other day on regional areas and in the last intercensal period there were 100 local government areas or round about 100 local government areas outside of our capital cities whose population would have declined in the intercensal period were it not for international migration. International migration now is the major factor in the growth of our regional populations and yet if you look at documents about regional development and so on they keep talking about how do we get people out of the cities and moving to country areas, and they ignore international migration.
The recent Productivity Commission report on mobility in Australia, how do we get people to move to where the jobs are, is all about trying to move people from our cities to mining areas and doesn't even consider international migration which is really the significant factor in regional growth, an did' not just here, it's in the United States, it's in Canada, it's in Europe as well. The increase in diversity of our intake and of course and something which I've studied for quite a while is this significant diaspora that Australia has overseas and probably numbering eight or nine hundred thousand. The changing composition of the population and obviously I'm going to focus most on household and family composition and the increasing ethnic diversity which I've mentioned, but ageing is of fundamental significance.
It's obligatory in any demographic presentation to have a age pyramid and this is mine, this indicates the current age structure of the population and it is a really interesting age structure influenced by trends in fertility as well as migration but you can pick out the baby boom population, in fact you can even pick out the year of my birth, 1946 after the war which you can see there is that one age group which stands out with a very significant number of people, that's the 1946 age cohort. But the baby boomers do stand out as a very significant bulge, which is equivalent to that total fertility rate diagram that I showed the upswing in the post war period. They're a quarter of the population baby boomers and currently they're over a third of the workforce. So they're an enormous element in our population not just quantitatively but as they've moved through different stages of the life cycle they've had very, very substantial impacts. And one of the things, I sit on the Australian Aged Care Financing Authority for government which actually determines the level of government funding of residential care and so on. And the thing that scares me in discussions with the residential care industry is the expectation that we'll just be seeing more of the same as the baby boomers move into old age, it's not just in terms of residential care but in housing and a whole range of things. And the reality is it won't be, baby boomers are going to be quite different in those older ages.
What are the demographic impacts of the baby boomers? Well the 65 plus population is going to increase by 86 per cent in the next two decades and this is a point, which I continue to make, is that this is not a crystal ball gazing guess or prediction, it is fact. If you look at the ABS projections and various scenarios of future population growth in Australia, we've got a high projection, a medium projection and a low projection, but there's only one scenario for the 65 plus population. We don't have high and low growth scenarios for them because there's just going to be a large number of them and they're already in Australia, they just have to move into the older age group. So in a society where we have so few predictables, so few things, which we can be certain about in the next ten years or the next 20 years, we can be about this. We can be less certain about the proportion they make up of the total population because that's going to be influenced by fertility, by migration, but those numbers are definitely going to be there.
But the other dimension which I think is important, we tend to think of it purely as a numerical change in terms of numbers but the baby boomers are different, they've got different characteristics, they've lived through different events and they've had different life experiences. What difference is that going to make as they move into old age. Not only that, they live in different places than the previous generation of older people. So the demand for the sort of goods and services, which they’re going to need, is a different special distribution of demand than the one, which we've had in the past. Just in terms of some of the numbers. You can see the baby boom cohort just starting to move into those older ages with the 65 to 74 age group being the fastest growing group as we get the baby boomers moving into those cohorts being vacated by people born in the 30s and the early 40s.
And when we look at projected change, when I said the 65 plus population is going to grow by 75 per cent over the next two decades, look at the 75 plus population. It's going to more than double and that's going to be the group, which is going to be most intensive users of health and other services. So they're fairly confronting sorts of numbers. What I've done here is to take the population projections done by the Bureau of Statistics, and I've taken the median projections and this looks at the growth of the population, the purpley colour represents the period up to 2021, and the other colour up to 2031. And what this shows is the growth of individual age groups and the very large migration assumptions for all of the population projections of the ABS, I think the lowest projection is a net gain of 200,000 which to me seems a very high figure to have as your low projections, but due to that we're going to see continued growth of young families to a fairly modest degree.
But look where all the growth is going to occur in the older age groups. We're going to have population growth in Australia over the next two decades but two-thirds of it is going to be in the older age groups, and getting people, particularly planners to accept that population growth does not equal growth of young families is a very, very big ask. Most of our planning still is very much oriented towards providing for more young families on the outskirts of cities and if we're talking about the increasing density of cities it tends to be how do we get those young people living in these higher density housing areas. So there has to be a cultural shift which says right we've really got to think about this in terms of the fastest growth being in those older populations as the baby boomers move into those age groups.
But baby boomers are different and I want to just dwell on this for a second. Some of the analysis, which we’ve done, is to look at baby boomers as they move into the pre-retirement ages and the previous generation, what were their characteristics when they were moving into the older ages. And the contrasts are really quite significant. If we look at the proportion of them that are entering later life without a spouse, a very much bigger proportion are going to enter the older years alone. In the previous generation the majority entered old age as a couple and of course mortality took a bigger toll than it's been taking more recently, but they tended to enter old age together, and having much larger numbers coming in as singles is going to be significant.
The number that are childless too or the proportion of the childless is greater and the average number of children is greater, the likelihood that their children are going to be living in a different place is going to be greater. So the accessibility to children is going to be less in this generation than it was with the previous generation. Very different education levels, and as would be expected lower levels of association with formal religion. And one which we're focusing on is the housing situation, the proportion that are renters is significantly higher and I want to say something about that in a moment. And a much greater proportion of them are overseas born and so currently in our older population one in three older people in Australia aged over 65 is a migrant. And I'd suggest, and this isn't what I'm talking about here, but some of the work that we're doing, migration study focuses on people in the process of movement or just after they arrive, but being a migrant can really influence people 30 years later or 40 years later as they start to enter and face the challenges of ageing. And I think that's tended to be quite neglected and it's not a small number, more than one in five of our people aged over 65 in Australia currently come from a CALD or a culturally and linguistically diverse background and that has significant implications.
The health is different too and there are real issues, what we've done here is to compare the data from the Australian Health Survey and most of this data, in fact all of it until recently is self reported health and that is an issue over time in terms of people's willingness to admit that they have particular health issues. But even taking that into account, the generation of baby boomers are much less well than the previous generation, in fact the only thing they score well on is smoking, all other risk factors and particularly obesity would put them at significantly greater risk. They're distributed differently with the growth of our older population being dominantly in the outer suburbs and just taking the example of Adelaide, we're seeing an increasing mismatch between where the residential care places are and where the older people are with more of them being concentrated in the inner and middle suburbs and the older population increasingly being in the outer suburbs which I think creates some significant challenged.
Just on terms of population distribution, and I better speed up a bit, we have a very unevenly distributed population which you'd be aware of with a very strong coastal orientation. Several years ago when I was at a Population Association of America meeting and there was a fabulous paper given by a geographer. What he'd done was to calculate the centroid of population, the sort of population centre of the United States over history and in the late 18th century it was somewhere over Boston because of the concentration of population on the east coast. But then with each successive census the centre of population moved westward and I think about 1930 it crossed the Mississippi and to me I thought it was just the best piece of work. So when I got back I did the same thing for Australia expecting to see some fantastic pattern emerge but over the last 120 years or so it's moved about 15 kilometres so around about Cowra. And slightly westward and slightly northward but not a very good pattern at all so I never ever published that article that was going to come out of that.
But despite that we are a very mobile population, we move more than anyone else, and it's a bit lower than it has been previously partly associated with ageing, but for a lot of the last 20 years or 30 years or so, pretty close to one in five of us moved at least once every year and close to half the population moved every five years which is a high degree of mobility but it tends to be short distance mobility and it tends to be a lot of it is compensating change so that we don't see much change in distribution. Outside of the capital cities there's a very distinct pattern of coastal growth and inner decline, which is quite substantially marked.
Now just moving onto the household and family data. One of the very interesting patterns since World War II has been this faster growth of households than population, the fact that the number of households has grown faster than the population with all sorts of implications for housing and for a number of services. What I've done in this diagram is to take 1961 as the base and show the growth of households and population. That growth of households though can be demographically disaggregated into three separate components. One is just the change in population so the extent to which the population grows will influence the growth in households. But it's also associated with age structure because people in different age groups have different propensities to form households. So that's another component, which influences the difference between population growth and household growth.
But then there's the third factor, which is changes in the rate to which each individual age sex group has the propensity to form houses and how this changes over time. What we've done is to actually calculate the contribution of these three components to the growth of households over time and there's some really interesting differences that when you look at the contribution of population growth to the growth of the number of households, you can see that in the 1990s it contributed only about half of the growth in households. Whereas since 2000 in fact just according to population growth, the households should have grown slightly greater than they have.
Household formation rates, in other words these age specific rates at which age groups form households you can see that they were a significant positive factor in the 90s, we saw an increase in the rate at which individual age groups formed households. But it's been a negative factor in recent times, which suggests that there's been declines in the rate at which individual households are forming households. And the age composition factor, you can see there has become less significant in contributing to the growth in the number of households since the 1990s. Now the reality is that other things being equal with the ageing of the population we should have seen an increased importance of ageing.
What this diagram shows and the pre war period is not so significant, but if we look at the period during the post war period, for most of the period household growth rates outpaced population growth rates. But look at the last five years, they're the same and what we've seen in the last ten years or so is the households not growing as fast as they would have if the patterns of the 1990s were continued. So what we've done is to take what the household formation rates were in the 90s and projected them through to 2001 and what we get is that if we take those 1990s age specific rates, we should have 8.4 million households, we've got 7.9 million households.
Now the work we were doing on the National Housing Supply Council was suggesting that why is that we're not getting the same number of households which we would have got if those patterns of the 90s were continued. And clearly there are two potential explanations. On the one hand it could be cultural factors, people preferring different patterns of household formations. And one obvious example of that is young people leaving home, that we're seeing these increasing rates of children staying at home through their 20s and it's suggested that this could be that they are forced to do by the lack of housing, by a lack of money, employment, all of those types of things. But if you've got children like I have in that age group, I think the main factor keeping them there is they're on a much better thing staying at home and certainly in the way houses are these days, that they can have a great deal more privacy and lead the sorts of lives which are pretty much the sort of lives they would be leading if they were living on their own.
So there's obviously a mix of factors, which are involved in that. But the reality is that there is no doubt that the lack of affordable housing and the mismatch between the sort of housing which is available and what money people have got to pay for it that we've got a real housing affordability issue in Australia and this is one of the things which the National Housing Supply Council was on about and perhaps may be one of the reasons why it no longer exists, that it was pressing this issue fairly strongly. There is evidence of some of the adjustments, which people were making in lieu of creating new households and one of them clearly for retention of children at home more, but as I said there's obviously a mix of factors involved in that.
There's certainly an increase in-group households, there's been an increase in three-generation households but the reality is that our census data really makes it virtually impossible for us to look at three-generation households. And one of the things, which I want to raise at the end, is that I think we need to really think about the way in which we classify and measure households and families in the census so that we're able to capture some of these crucial elements, which we can't at the moment. There's been an increase in the number of multiple family households that is several families living within the one house and an increase in homelessness. The numbers between 2001 and 2011 you can see a significant increase in both group households and multiple family households but I don't have any data on three-generation households and as I said we can't do that from the census.
I was going to say a little bit about retention of adult children but one of the problems in looking at the whole issue of adult children staying longer at home is the massive influx of overseas students and of course many of them live in either group households or in individual households. And so if you take the total data it doesn’t show out very well, but if you look at just the Australian born component you can see that there has been a substantial increase in the proportion in the different age groups which are staying at home, though we're nowhere near the Italian standards yet, it just seems to be that that whole phenomenon of Italian children staying at home until their mid 30s seems to be the absolute dominant characteristic.
Talking before with David about work that you're doing at the institute on divorce, and it is interesting to suggest that it may well be that the decreasing proportion of women - and I've just taken women here - but the decreasing proportion who are divorced in some of these younger ages may well be one of the factors which is depressing this rate of household formation and I certainly see that as being one of the elements which are involved. And I think what we'd really like to do is to tray and disaggregate what all those components are within that decline in household formation rates.
Households and families have changed enormously in terms of composition and the series of diagrams which I've got over the next bit of the talk relates to these very substantial changes and the increase in single person households, the increase in couple households and you can just see over the last 25 years or so just the increasing significance of one parent families as opposed to couple families with children. A very slow change in dwelling structure, with still the overwhelming dominance of the separate house. But one of the issues which I think is really significant in Australia is this decline in the - well a very slow growth rate in the number of proportion of households that own their home outright and I want to say a little bit about that in relation to baby boomers just for a moment.
I think one of the questions, which we really need to think about, is what the baby boomers are going to do in retirement. What are they going to do in retirement in terms of their living arrangements, what are they going to do in terms of housing, what are they going to do in terms of mobility. And there are lots of anecdotal evidence being thrown around, small scale surveys which have looked at this but I think it is going to be a very significant factor given that they are such a significant player in the housing market. As we've seen they have very different characteristics to the previous generation and anticipating how they're going to behave in older age is I think a very, very important question.
But a lot of myths around about baby boomers and part of it comes from this unfortunate thing of people trying to stereotype a generation in particular ways when the reality is that the baby boomers by all counts are probably the most segmented and diverse generation that Australia has had moving into older age. And there are many myths and as I said they're healthier, in fact as we saw earlier just about on everything they're not. They're opting to retire early because of wanting to lead the good life, not true, and in fact all of the - and this has been for a long time that the bulk of people retiring early don't have any choice in it, it's due to health or it's due to redundancy. And this suggestion that it's leisure led is really and may well be for very small groups but it is certainly not the case.
One of the pillars of our policy towards older Australians is that it's expected that most of them will own their own home and while the majority still do as I will show in a moment, this is getting less all the time. And there is this stereotype of the baby boomers being cashed up and the reality is that while they are the most wealthy generation, that it is also a very significant distribution around the average, which is relatively high.
Now I was going to talk about different segments which I see in the baby boomer population but I want to concentrate on one group, those who are renting housing. The impact of retirement and the loss of income of these renters is something, which I think, needs to be considered. Many of them are I think quire vulnerable and this may have some significant impacts. One of the things which I mention, some work which we're doing with the renting population, you can see here that if we take the baby boomer - three of the baby boomer age groups, the increase between the censuses in the proportion that are renting and you can see in all cases the proportions are increasing.
One group, which I think need some attention, is those that are still paying mortgages. Generally we tend to have renters and then people who own their own homes or are purchasing them. But there has been a very significant increase in the proportion of older baby boomers who still have significant mortgages on their own home and there's a lot of evidence that many baby boomers use their superannuation to pay off their mortgage when they retire. But I think these are a significant subgroup, which has got the potential for being vulnerable to moving into a difficult situation when they get older.
We’ve taken the South Australian Medical Survey which is done every year, and we've collapsed quite a few years of it together in order to get enough baby boomers to study and about 10 per cent of those baby boomers are renting. And so what we've done is to look at a number of the characteristics and I've been doing social science research for a long time but I’ve never had a more consistent and more striking set of statistically significant differences as I've seen between the renting baby boomers and the owner purchaser baby boomers and I've just listed a few of the variables which we've picked out and you can see here in terms of unemployment, in terms of education, in terms of those who are currently married, being in the lowest SEIFA quintiles, in terms of a whole range of health things, and particularly mental health, the incidence of poor mental health is double mong renters as it is among the other groups.
So there's this whole raft of what I could say are non shelter dimensions of the housing situation of this group and they're a significant group in that baby boomer population which I think does need some attention. So there's a number of issues around baby boomers which I think do need to be considered, one which particularly interests me is that there is an assumption that they will behave with respect to housing and mobility in the same way that previous generations, and that is that they will continue to age in place and have a very low level of mobility. To me I think that's a question which we still don't know the answer to and I think it would be a mistake to just assume that they will behave in the same way as previous generations.
Bu there is a number of issues here and we're seeing just the beginnings of some baby boomer mobility within Australian cities. We've done analysis of the growth of populations in the central cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane and when you look at the growth patterns of populations in those central cities, there are two groups, which are moving into the cities in terms of net migration. There's a lot of turnover migration of other groups but two groups, overseas students which are a major element, and baby boomers. Baby boomers, the net migration of baby boomers into the sort of cafe society inner suburban area is quite significant. Yet in the city of Adelaide where I live the Adelaide City Council has an overwhelming polity to attract young people, a vibrant Adelaide is a young Adelaide and in fact there's almost a denial of the fact that the growth is being driven by baby boomers moving into the city and this is seen as being a negative thing because how could a person in that age group be vibrant, I mean you know it's just not possible
I was interested to hear that your previous lecture in this series was on the topic of older Australians and this mind set of being older being a negative factor and a downside and a cost as opposed to an opportunity and all of the potential which is associated with that to me is a very, very important issue. I think baby boomers have still got a very significant role to play in Australia and it just seems to me that they could be leaders in the necessary increasing of population density in our cities. When we're looking at the city plans of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and so on there's a tendency to at least implicitly suggest that the people moving in to the higher density areas are going to be young people. The reality is that it may well be in the interests of the cities to actually facilitate the movement of older people, baby boomers particularly, freeing up more housing and downsizing to more age appropriate housing.
Now I would be the last person to suggest that it should be in any way something which is pushed and people should have a choice and so on but a lot of the admittedly limited work that we've done would suggest that many older people want to stay in their own area but not necessarily stay in their own house so it may well be that there are some possibilities there. We're also looking at baby boomers are the major group in Australia who own holiday homes particularly in coastal areas. Studies we've done in South Australia show that more than two-thirds of holiday homes in coastal areas are owned by baby boomers and those studies have shown that a significant proportion of them intend either to retire to them or massively increase the amount of time that they're going to be using those holiday homes. So their role in regional development could be quite significant and I think does need to be looked at and yet it doesn't tend to be raised when we're talking about regional development.
Now I was going to have a look at some population projections, I won't have time to do that but I think looking into the future I think it would be really dangerous to simply think that the next 20 years will be pretty much the same as the last 20 years in terms of family formation, household formation and housing demand. I think we really do need to look at a whole range of new forces and what I've suggested in this paper is that I don’t think hat our current census data particularly helps us in doing this analysis. What I'm suggesting is that I think that we need to undertake a significant review of the data collection, which is done within the Bureau of Statistics on households, and families, which start to take account of different types of relationships, which are emerging. And we may well not be able to capture then in censuses as a data collection means but I think that we do need that sort of review so that we're able to measure and quantify what these trends actually are. And I think it's quite indicative that the United States Bureau of Census is about to undertake such a review because of a total dissatisfaction with the data that they're getting, not just from the census but from their annual population survey as not being able to capture or to measure the shifts which are occurring, not just in younger families but also in older families as well. I will leave it there and I'm very happy to answer any questions, thanks.
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