Less family homes, more high density needed

November 22, 2013

Australia may have enough large family homes and now needs smaller, more flexible, higher density housing, according to one of the nation's leading demographers.

The call follows a recent paper by the University of Adelaide's Professor Graeme Hugo AO on the changing demographics of Australia over the last 30 years, published in the Australasian Journal on Ageing.

Professor Hugo, who is Director of the Australian Population and Migration Research Centre at the University, has analysed a range of demographic trends in the period 1981-2011, including , , migration, distribution, and household composition.

Professor Hugo says Australia's ageing population is largely not being factored into planning and policy.

"The physical stock of our houses is out of kilter with the reality of our population changes," Professor Hugo says.

"What Australia desperately needs is growth in more flexible housing for one-to-two people. This is mostly driven by the baby boomer population - a quarter of our population is either moving into retirement or is already in retirement. They're at a stage when many wish to be downsizing, moving into accommodation that better suits their needs and lifestyle.

"Baby boomers could play an important in increasing the density of population in Australian cities. By all means, older people who wish to stay in the family home should be enabled to do so, but there is evidence that some are seeking a change in housing after their children leave home.

"This would free up family housing for young families while helping to drive a much-needed boost in higher density, inner-city living. Importantly, it will help stop the spread of our ever-widening suburbs," he says.

Professor Hugo says that since 1981, what many Australians consider to be the 'typical' household has experienced the slowest growth.

"In 1981, just over 47% of households had one or two people, but by 2011 this increased to more than 58%.

"Australian planning is aimed predominantly at the stereotypical 'average' household. However, the figures show a very different picture of our population's needs, and it's time we stopped ignoring those changes so that adequate and services can be provided," Professor Hugo says.

Explore further: Researchers find faster population growth in Virginia cities

More information: Hugo, G. (2013), "The changing demographics of Australia over the last 30 years." Australasian Journal on Ageing, 32: 18–27. DOI: 10.1111/ajag.12113

Related Stories

Researchers find faster population growth in Virginia cities

January 25, 2013

Population growth in Virginia outpaced the nation, with highly varied growth across localities, according to the most recent official annual population estimates for the state developed by demographers from the University ...

Longer term view needed of ageing migrants

August 9, 2013

One of Australia's leading demographers says governments should be paying more attention to the needs of older migrants, not just to the younger ones who arrive to fill skills shortages, or who arrive as refugees.

The future of the suburbs

September 26, 2013

Few living environments are more universally maligned than the suburbs. The suburbs stand accused of being boring, homogeneous, inefficient, car-oriented, and sterile. Some critics even argue that the suburbs make people ...

Recommended for you

From a very old skeleton, new insights on ancient migrations

October 9, 2015

Three years ago, a group of researchers found a cave in Ethiopia with a secret: it held the 4,500-year-old remains of a man, with his head resting on a rock pillow, his hands folded under his face, and stone flake tools surrounding ...

Mexican site yields new details of sacrifice of Spaniards

October 9, 2015

It was one of the worst defeats in one of history's most dramatic conquests: Only a year after Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico, hundreds of people in a Spanish-led convey were captured, sacrificed and apparently eaten.

Ancient genome from Africa sequenced for the first time

October 8, 2015

The first ancient human genome from Africa to be sequenced has revealed that a wave of migration back into Africa from Western Eurasia around 3,000 years ago was up to twice as significant as previously thought, and affected ...

Who you gonna trust? How power affects our faith in others

October 6, 2015

One of the ongoing themes of the current presidential campaign is that Americans are becoming increasingly distrustful of those who walk the corridors of power – Exhibit A being the Republican presidential primary, in which ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.