New projections for Australia’s ageing population

ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR)

Researchers in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research have released new population projections for Australia, with a particular focus on population ageing. Australia’s population aged 85 and above is projected to increase dramatically over the next 20 years.

Australia’s demographic trends have been changing quickly over the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Fertility, mortality and migration have all been affected.

Taking into account the emerging demographic realities of the pandemic, demographers Dr Tom Wilson and Associate Professor Jeromey Temple from the University of Melbourne have released new population projections for Australia, providing insights for planning and policy purposes on how Australia’s population is expected to change over the next 20 years.

“Based on updated population estimates incorporating 2021 Census results, Australia’s population in all age groups is expected to grow, but the largest proportional growth is expected at the oldest ages,” says Dr Tom Wilson, CEPAR Principal Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne.

Australia’s population aged 65 and over is projected to grow to 6.66 million by 2041, from an estimated 4.31 million in 2021, which is an increase by 54%.

Greater proportional population growth is projected at the highest ages.

Australia’s population aged 85 and above is projected to increase in number from 534,000 in 2021 to 1.28 million by 2041 – an increase of 140%.

The rapid projected increase in the 85+ population is due to projected mortality decline plus larger cohorts reaching age 85 due to past mortality declines and increasing numbers of births many decades ago. In addition, the uptick in growth from around 2031 onwards is the result of the larger baby boom generation entering the 85+ age group.


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Image: Population aged 85+ in Australia, 1991-2041. Source of observed data: ABS. Wilson, Temple (2022).

“The centenarian population, which means those aged 100 and over, will grow at an even faster rate – increasing by 200% from 5,300 in 2021 to 15,900 by 2041”, says Dr Wilson.


Image: Population aged 100+ in Australia, 1991-2041. Source of observed data: authors’ estimates. Wilson, Temple (2022).

Population projections data is available at the CEPAR Population Ageing Futures Data Archive. To view and

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