Two Expert Reports dismantling the Myth that Population … Demographic Ageing is an economic timebomb

The Australian Population Research Institute, Research Report, March 2020 Demographic ageing: time-bomb or breakthrough?

Katharine Betts


ALSO Report from Leith Van Onselen …

Population ageing is no economic time bomb

By Leith van Onselen in Australian EconomyImmigration

March 19, 2020 

Katherine Betts, Adjunct Associate Professor at Swinburne University, has published a new report for the Australian Population Research Institute (APRI) examining whether demographic ageing is the “demographic time-bomb” commonly claimed by economists, policy makers and population boosters.

Below is the executive summary, along with key charts and data:

Some commentators see demographic ageing as a problem, even a threat. For example Josh Frydenberg writes that ‘With the sixth highest life expectancy in the world’, ageing in Australia ‘will place new demands on our health, aged care and pension systems’. He focuses on the relative decline of people of conventional working age compared to those aged 65 and over, warning that ‘over the next four decades [the ratio will] fall to just 2.7 to 1’. For him this is ‘an economic time-bomb’.

He is not alone. For example, Bernard Salt calls the prospective maturity a ‘demography induced fiscal calamity’ and says that voters need to be scared. Those ‘who pretend there is no intergenerational fiscal sustainability risk are demographic deniers’.  …


Demographic ageing is the outcome of social progress, indeed of revolutionary social change. It proves that we have escaped from the Malthusian trap. And thanks to the longevity dividend, it can provide us with the resources to manage this change.

It is not a threat. The only danger lies in futile attempts to resist it with rapid population growth.


Brilliant stuff. Full report here.

Leith Van Onselen

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.