Christopher Kent: challenges (and opportunities) in ageing


Two Senior Women Friends At Day Care Centre

We all know the policy challenges of an ageing population, but what are the opportunities? The Reserve Bank’s assistant governor calls for an element of risk-taking.

Population ageing is driven by three different forces. The first is the baby boom that followed World War II. The second is the drop in fertility rates thereafter. Combined, these two changes led to a “bulge” in the age distribution of the population (see graph). The early part of this cohort began to retire from around the turn of the century and the baby boom is increasingly putting downward pressure on the share of the population that is of (traditional) working age.

sp-ag-201014-graph1-small

The third force driving population ageing is rising longevity. Australians born today can expect to live nearly 25 years longer than those born a hundred years ago. The increase in life expectancy has occurred throughout this period and appears to be ongoing.

The challenges of an ageing population

Conversations about ageing often focus on the challenges it poses. But it also provides us with numerous opportunities. Let’s first consider some of the challenges and assume for the moment that behaviours don’t respond to population ageing.

FREE membership to The Mandarin

Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.

The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.