More than a decade ago the federal treasury produced the first Intergenerational Report (IGR), warning of the challenges facing the Australian economy due to demographic change.
"Demography is destiny," Auguste Comte (1798-1857), the founder of sociology, stated. The present composition of our society - in terms of population, population density, age, family structure, migration patterns, ethnicity, economic behaviour, employment status and emissions of greenhouse gases - will determine what kind of society we will have in the future.
Australia is undergoing a 'demographic transition'. Affluence has increased. Parents have increasingly planned their families, coordinating child-rearing with employment. Our population is also described as 'ageing'. This has had the effect of decreasing the 'support ratio': that is, the number of people employed relative to the total population.
Australia's population is nevertheless growing due to immigration, both permanent and temporary. A key concern in the effects of demographic change is intergenerational equity. Each generation has a claim to equality of access to education, employment, and economic wellbeing. Australia is one of the world's most urbanised countries. Population increase is putting pressure on the infrastructure of our cities. We also have the highest emissions of carbon dioxide per capita among developed nations (Global Carbon Project, 2009). Climate change and the impacts of measures to mitigate it - such as carbon trading schemes - will certainly heighten this issue of equity, both between the generations and across the variegated spectrum of our demographic make-up.
Victoria's Department of Sustainability and Environment and Department of Planning and Community Development host this web content: Regional Matters - An Atlas of Regional Victoria 2005.
Of particular relevance is the Changing Populations set of documents, available for download.