The Ageing Experience of Australians from Migrant Backgrounds

Australia, as is widely known, has an ageing population and is also a country built on immigration. However, it is less well known that the immigrant population has an older age structure than the Australian-born population.

In 2006, almost one in five (19%) of the overseas-born population were aged 65 and over compared with 11% of the Australian-born population. Although a little dated, the only known projections of this group estimate that between 2011 and 2025 the number of people aged 65 and over from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds will increase from around 650,000 to 950,000*.

Behind the well-worn phrase of ‘an ageing Australia’ lies a wealth of complexity. Just as ageing is a unique journey for all of us as individuals, so too is the ageing experience of people from immigrant backgrounds. So far, research into these differences has been fairly limited.

This report is about digging a little deeper and quantifying the different ageing experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) older adults. Data from the 2006 census on their living arrangements and well-being were analysed to paint a more detailed picture of this large and significant group of older Australians. It should be noted that the 2006 census was the first to collect a range of data that can be used to examine productive ageing and the well-being of older Australians.

The results highlighted in this report are sometimes surprising, and certainly deserve wider recognition. CALD older adults differ in their social and economic well-being by country or region of origin and ancestry even after taking into account differences in demographic and other characteristics. This suggests that cultural factors and migration experiences may have some influence on their well-being and ageing experiences.

Read the appendices for: Language GroupsBirth Country GroupsAncestry GroupsFull Appendix list.

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