MEDIA RELEASE: Intergenerational Report Misrepresents Ageing and Dependency

MEDIA RELEASE: Intergenerational Report Misrepresents Ageing and Dependency

Total labour-force participation matters, not age: Sustainable Population Party

The federally registered Sustainable Population Party says the Intergenerational Report (IGR) deliberately distorts the impact of ageing, in order to force-feed unpopular policies like budget cuts, asset sales and rapid population growth; via both increased fertility and immigration.

“The Intergenerational Report starts with the flawed assumption that our collective working age is strictly between 15 to 64,” said William Bourke, President of the Sustainable Population Party.

“Calculating dependency via this outdated assumption is grossly misleading for a number of reasons. Firstly, many people aged 15 to 64 are not working. Secondly, more and more people aged 65 and above are working, and many of the others do not require welfare. Finally, it ignores the fact that children are also dependants, of whom there are relatively less to support.”

“The only dependency statistic that really matters is total labour-force participation, being the percentage of people in the total population that are working.

“Joe Hockey recently claimed that ‘as the population ages, the total participation rate will fall’.[1] But the evidence shows that significant ageing has not lead to a fall in total labour-force participation in Australia. It has in fact risen with ageing. For example, in 1966 Australia’s total labour-force participation was around 42 per cent. Yet by 2013, total labour-force participation rose to around 52 per cent, despite our average age rising by around 10 years to 37 in that period. This shows that workforce participation is more about economic opportunity and government policies than age.

“With the right economic opportunities and policies, such as reducing ageism and increasing the education and training of young Australians, total labour-force participation can continue to rise with ageing. As recently pointed out by Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan[2], there is much room for improvement in Australia. The percentage of the people aged 55-64 in the workforce in Australia is 61.5 per cent, and has remained stable since 2012. In New Zealand the percentage is 74.4 per cent. This is where we need to beat the Kiwis, not cricket!

“Not only does the IGR distort the ageing issue, it also fails to address the growing economic, environmental and social costs of Australia’s rapid population growth. These problems include the housing affordability crisis, traffic congestion and environmental degradation. In effect, population growth is masquerading as a cure for the growing problems it is creating. It leaves the IGR looking like little more than a Trojan horse for unfair, unnecessary and undemocratic policies.

“Sustainable Population Party is calling on the federal government to hold both a national summit on the benefits of ageing and a referendum-style vote on the population issue,” said Mr. Bourke.


Contact: William Bourke