March saw the release of the 2015 Intergenerational Report (IGR), giving Australians a rare glimpse into our distant future.

The IGR is a study released every five years. It’s a snapshot of how the nation might look in 40 years’ time, covering everything from population size and life expectancy to public spending and federal budget forecasts. 

According to the 2015 IGR:

  • The nation is expected to have 39.7 million people in 2055.
  • By mid-century, Australia will have about 40,000 people aged 100 and above – well more than 300 times the 122 centenarians there were in 1975
  • Male life expectancy is projected to increase from 91.5 today to 95.1.
  • Life expectancy for women is set to rise from 93.6 years to 96.6.
  • The number of people aged 65 and above is projected to more than double by 2055.
  • While we’re ageing, the number of taxpayers to support the population is shrinking. In 1975, there were 7.3 people aged between 15 and 64 to support every one person over 65. Now it’s currently four and a half. By 2055, it will drop to 2.7 people.

How the IGR will affect homecare services

  • Aged care funding for residential aged care and a range of community care services, including homecare services, is projected to increase from 0.9 per cent of GDP in 2014-15 to 1.7 per cent of GDP in 2054-55.
  • Age and Service Pensions are also projected to increase each year. However, as a share of GDP, these payments are expected drop from to 2.9 per cent in 2014-15 to 2.7 per cent of GDP in 2054-55.
  • Given an ageing population, economic growth is projected to be slightly lower over the next four decades than in the last 40 years.
  • The ageing of Australia’s population and people’s longer lives will have an obvious positive impact, but bring greater budget costs in pensions and other areas.
  • Older people will need to work longer to help make up for the demographic changes with the report foreseeing the proportion of Australians aged above 65 in the workforce increasing markedly, from 12.9% in 2014-15 to 17.3% in 2054-55.
  • Payments made through age and service pensions are projected to rise each year. In current dollars, spending per person is set to rise from almost $2000 currently to about $3200 by mid-century.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said the report – the fourth since 2002 – was “a social compact between the generations. It represents where we’ve been, where we’re at and where we’re going”.

“What we need to do is frame public policy for the future and that means … empowering individuals to have more control over the government services they access – and government services need to be more flexible to respond to the needs of individuals as they change their lives.”