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QTPA Member Alert | Our Changing Demographics (12/4/2012)

Our Changing Demographics

Latest information from “IBISWorld” for your information. This has a number of parts that you will find of interest. In particular: Our Changing Society, Australia’s 20 Largest Cities, Australia’s Household Expenditure Charts.

From the desk of Phil Ruthven, Our Changing Demographics
Societies changed dramatically in the Industrial Age, and are changing just as fast in the new Infotronics Age that started in the mid-1960s and should last until the late 2040s.

Some of the key changes are summarised in the exhibit below.

We will touch on just a handful of these. We are certainly living longer and more pain-free lives these days, and we are told that one in four people born since the beginning of the 21st century will live to 100 years of age.

Smaller households are now the norm, with our density down to less than 2.6 people per household compared with over five per household at the time of Federation in 1901.

A century ago, over one-fifth of all households had six or more occupants and less than one-tenth of all households had a single occupant. Today, it is almost the reverse: way less than one-tenth are big households, and over one-quarter have single occupants! Indeed, by the middle of this century almost 70% of all households (over 15.5 million of them) will have only one or two occupants. We might be lonely if it were not for huge advances in telecommunications and the Digital Age, giving us 3-D telepresence and other amazing means of staying in touch with anybody and anything.

However, while households are becoming less communal, the isolation if not loneliness of the rural population is diminishing due to two factors: the advent of high-speed broadband to overcome much of the tyranny of distance, and the almost scary thinning out of the rural population in favour of urban coastal as well as capital city living, as highlighted in the third and fourth charts.

Our population by states and territories also continues to change. New South Wales and Tasmania were the most populous in the early decades of the colony, not including the Aboriginal population (not officially counted) – had the Indigenous Australians been enumerated, then the top half of Australia would have been the most populous.

Victoria went on to become the state with the highest population after the gold rushes of the late 19th century, before New South Wales regained the title, which it will hold into the second half of the century – until Queensland overtakes it, after supplanting Victoria. Over the past few decades we have seen Western Australia overtake South Australia’s population.

The disposition of the states and territories in economic and population terms is shown in the following chart.

And the way we spend our incomes?

The final chart shows just how much we now spend on services compared with goods, which are now more plentiful but much cheaper as a result of the Industrial Age economies of scale, technology and freer trade with emerging economies such as China.

A century ago, we spent over 60% of our gross income on goods, bought mainly from retail stores – and now, barely more than one-fifth of our incomes. Indeed, our society is almost unrecognisable from that of our long-gone and shorter lived ancestors.

Phil Ruthven
Chairman of IBISWorld


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