Source: The Mercury, 29 January, 1994, p.8
The average Australian is continuing to live longer, with women outlasting men by almost two to one. Figures released yester- day by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the median age increased by 5 1/2 years since 1971 to 33 years. It has risen by 1.9 years since 1986 and 0.3 years since last year. There has been almost no growth in the number of children as a percentage of the population and a 43 per cent jump in the number of people at work- ing age. But the big growth age continues to be the over 65s, with numbers increas- ing a massive 89 per cent. Declining mortality rates and the resulting growth in life expectancy is con- tinuing to swell the ranks of the older generation. There are now 426,300 people over the age of 80 compared with 188,800 in 1971 - a rise of 126 per cent. Women outnumber men in this age group by almost two to one, with 281,100 females and 145,200 males. The figures highlight prob- lems for discussion in a report on Australia's aging society to be released by the Economic Planning Advisory Council next week. The report is expected to outline the massive blow-out in health costs facing Aust- ralia in the next decade caused by too many people living longer. Sensitive issues such as with- drawing medical treatment for terminally ill elderly people and hospital staff making patients fully aware of the cost of any treatment are expected to be canvassed by the paper. More than half of all Austra- lians are now either in younger (under 14) or older (over 65) dependency age groups.
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