What does the Australia of today really look like? With the typical length of employment being 3.3 years and Australians today working on average 17 jobs in their lifetime, we are seeing a shift from job stability to job flexibility. The rise of the couple only household means the nuclear family is on the decline. Because kids are staying at home longer, they've been named the KIPPERS (Kids in Parents Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings). And in the midst of the current baby boom, Australian's are having children later in life.
Research director Claire Madden gives insight into these trends and the changing Australian landscape, and the importance of understanding the shifts and trends occurring in our society today.
Nuclear family no longer most common household
For the first time in Australia's history, the nuclear family will no longer be the most common household – while today they make up 33% of all households, within just a year the couple only household will be the most common type of household.
With the decline of the nuclear household structure, we are often seeing three generations living under one roof: Baby boomers are being sandwiched by taking care of their own parents (the builders), while still having their Gen Y children living with them and studying.
This type of arrangement is a significant financial advantage for Gen Y KIPPERS (Kids In Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings) who may be saving $15,000 per year on rent alone by living with their parents. For mum and dad, however, retirement plans are delayed and retirement savings significantly decrease. Baby Boomer parents, while enjoying the social interactions available in a multigenerational household, can often feel the pressure and may feel like their hard work is being taken for granted.
Household size grows after a century of shrinkage
Household size has been declining for the last 100 years. In 1911, the average household size for Australia was 4.5. By 2006, it had fallen to 2.53. But in 2011, something remarkable happened. Household size increased. Only by a small amount, but enough to raise it to the current 2.6 people per household. The multi-gen household and boomerang kids have turned around a 100-year trend and created expanding household size.
Employment and Job Mobility
Australia is approaching 24 million people, and our labour force is close to half our total population at 11.7 million people. Of these, 70% are employed on a full time basis and 30% are part time workers. Currently our unemployment rate is at about 6.2%.
Australia’s job mobility is a long way from job for life- in fact it’s closer to three jobs per decade! Today the national average tenure in a job is 3.3 years (3 years and 4 months), based on voluntary turnover of around 15% per annum.
If this plays out consistently in the life of a school leaver today, and assuming they start their working life aged 18 (in a part-time role) and are retired from all work by 75, they will have 17 different employers in their lifetime. Based on 3 jobs before upskilling or career changing, this means that they will also have 5 separate careers in their lifetime.
Record births, older parents, increase in family size
We are currently experiencing a baby boom in Australia, with birth numbers setting new records and exceeding 300,000 per year, more than were born in the original baby boom post WWII. It is not that more women are deciding to have children, but those that are having children are deciding to have more than previously, and as a result Australia is seeing an increase in the family size.
Gen Y will produce more children than any previous generation in Australia’s history. While the number of children per Gen Y family is significantly less than that of their grandparents (in 1961 the total fertility rate hit 3.5 births per woman), Generation Y parents are having more children per couple than Generation X did. When Generation X were in their peak fertility years (turning 31 in 2001), this coincided with the very year Australia hit its lowest birth rate ever recorded in Australia (1.7). Now as Generation Y are reaching their peak fertility years we have a birth rate significantly higher, hovering around 1.9.
Natural increase and Migration
Australia's annual growth rate is 1.6% which equates to 364,800 people over the last year. In 2008 net overseas migration was 459,904 (therefore population growth numbers in the last year were 95, 104 less than they were 7 years ago).
Annual growth is comprised of two factors: natural increase (births minus deaths) and net overseas migration (permanent arrivals minus permanent departures). A permanent arrival is defined by someone living in Australia for 12 months or more (or 12 months over a 16 month period). The same time frames apply to permanent departures.
58% of Australia’s population increase is through migration which was 212,500 people last year. In 2008 net overseas migration was 315,700 which equates to 103,200 fewer last year than 7 years ago. 42% of Australia’s population growth was through natural increase which was 152,300 people.