Australia’s oldest regions are experiencing a growing pension crisis with some regions already having 20 per cent of the population reliant on the Age Pension. This is a taste of what is to come at a national level.
Our latest report titled Ageing and work in regional Australia: Pathways for accelerating economic growth finds that if the Australian workforce neglects to engage mature age workers, the result will be lower growth, lower incomes and a higher welfare and services bill.
Key facts include:
- The 2016 Census shows that ageing is accelerating in many regions but stable in the cities. Since 2011, the median age for both Sydney and Melbourne didn’t budge from 36 while rising in NSW and Victoria from 41 to 43.
- The Age Pension is already the largest expenditure item in the Federal Budget at $45 billion annually, and if nothing changes, it is forecast to blow out to an unsustainable $51 billion by 2020.
- Victor Harbor, Port-Macquarie-Hastings, and East Gippsland already have 20 per cent or more of the population reliant on the Age Pension.
- If we can lift older employment across regions like the Central Coast and Hume, this will increase spending in their local economies by $30 million each.
The good news is if we can engage a higher proportion of older people in work, a significant lift to local incomes, economic growth and a lower pension bill for the government should follow.