Whilst the talk is about how many of us are living longer and how many more will be living alone in coming years, a deeper investigation finds a somewhat different story.
This Missive looks at the most recent demographic release from the ABS, which predicts the size and shape of our household composition in the decades to come.
- By 2025, one quarter of Australia’s households will hold a single occupant. And a further 29% will hold just two people – so, just over half of our dwellings will hold just one or two people. See chart 1.
- The next decade will also see single and couple households grow the most, up by 23% and 22% from today’s numbers.
One-parent families will also lift in size by 20% over the same period. Traditional family numbers are expected to lift by just 13%.
- Now, before you blow a gasket and start shouting, “more high-rise apartments!” these household ratios have applied for over a decade already.
For example, the proportion of lone person households was 23% in 2001; is 24% today and is forecast to rise to 25% in a decade’s time.
- It is more important to look at the total population numbers. Just over two-thirds of Australians are adults, with the other third being children.
Whilst those living solo make up a quarter of our population by household type, they represent just 10% of the overall population count. See chart 2.
- Chart 3 outlines the expected increase in household type by total population rather than number of households. In shows the biggest increase will be couples with children living at home.
This makes more sense than the “alone” mantra, especially when you factor in our recent baby boom – see chart 4 – plus our high overseas migrant intake. Most new overseas migrants are in their 30s and have children or plan to do so once they settle.
- The ABS expects Australia to grow by 175,000 new households per annum and the size of our population is predicted to grow by about 415,000 each year over the next decade, rising from 24 million this year to 28 million by 2025. But one must start to wonder at what expense.
There is little doubt that more people are living independently.
How alone they actually live, I think, is open for debate.
Yet, two thirds of the projected population increase over the decade won’t be the traditional family unit – they include people living alone; single families; unrelated groups or other family.
Also, a higher proportion of single and couple households live in our regional centres than in our capitals.
And when it comes to our capitals, 90% of single households and a further 80% of couple households live far removed from the inner city suburbs.
Whilst some can and obviously do, most, however, cannot afford, nor do they want to move downtown.
There is a substantial need for more compact housing across the country and the biggest need is in our middle/outer suburbs.
There is a need in our regional centres, too.
It is imperative that this housing is affordable.