The average Australian: now, and in 2025

21 January, 2013

Forget beer-swilling sports nuts – we're a nation of urban-dwelling, eco-conscious bargain hunters.

When it comes to Australia Day, many of us think of beaches, barbies, backyard cricket and booze, but it seems this may no longer be an accurate reflection of the typical Aussie.

On the eve of our national day, business information research firm IBISWorld provides a fascinating insight into who we are today – and who we'll be in 2025.

How many of us are there?

Australia's population is hovering around 22.8 million and is forecast to grow by 1.6 per cent per annum to reach 27.8 million by 2025 – driven by immigration, growing birth rates and longer life expectancies.

"Net migration has been driven by policies to raise immigration levels in an effort to combat the impact of retiring baby boomers and to tackle the skills shortage," said IBISWorld general manager (Australia), Karen Dobie.

"Add to that our average life expectancy creeping close to 82 years old; and our median age rising to 37.1, up from 36.9 in 2010, and it's apparent the coming decade will be one of rising demands on healthcare and new challenges for the economy," she said.

Where are we living?

While New South Wales continues to be our most populous state, IBISWorld expects Western Australia will lead population growth in the years to 2025, driven largely on the back of the mining boom. And while this is good news for the local economy, Dobie expects this growth will continue to pose challenges for WA due to the associated transient population and the rapid development of regional towns.

In terms of housing, IBISWorld anticipates the coming ten years will see ongoing growth in high-rise apartment and inner city living in major metropolitan areas as housing affordability remains a concern, and less Australians rush to enter the housing market. "Perhaps owning bricks and mortar is no longer the Australian dream?," Dobie said.

In 2012-13, IBISWorld expects the average owner occupier's home loan will be $300,300 – a figure forecast to rise to $678,000 by 2024-2025 (based on the historical constant growth rate).

How much do we work?

This year, the average Aussie will work just over 32 hours per week, taking home (on average) $1,086 per week, compared to an estimated 29 to 30 weekly hours in 2024-25 – a change attributed to more people transitioning to part-time work and a growing number of businesses offering flexible working hours driven by technology. During this time, average weekly earnings will rise to $1,756 - driven by inflation, up-skilling and industry movements.

In addition, IBISWorld expects we'll see more women and older people entering (or re-entering) the workforce as a result of employers' increasingly flexible approach.

How do we spend our leisure time?

This year, the average Australian will have around 78.1 leisure hours per week, up from 76.4 in 2000. By 2025 this is expected to reach 78.5 hours per week as technological advancements eliminate the need for human involvement.

So how do we spend our spare time?

"Over the past ten years there's been a huge shift in how Australians use their leisure time largely due to the mounting influence of the internet, social media and e-commerce. In 2013, typical Australians will spend more than 20 leisure hours online, up from 18.3 in 2010 – with social media and shopping taking up most of that time, a trend we expect to continue right through to 2025.

"When we're not online, we'll be eating out, playing sport, hitting the gym and watching television and movies – although much of the latter will be done online via streaming and downloads," Dobie added.

What are we eating?

"One clear trend both now and looking ahead is a growing preference for ethically and sustainably produced meats, eggs and dairy (free range meats, poultry, eggs), while organic and local produce continues to rise in popularity and penetration," Dobie said.

"While we have traditionally considered ourselves a country of meat-lovers, consumption of vegetarian meals is certainly a growing trend in Australia," she added.

Currently, IBISWorld estimates around five per cent of Australians consider themselves vegetarian, with just one per cent of those proclaiming veganism. By 2025 we can expect vegetarians to comprise closer to seven per cent of the population.

How are we powering our lives?

As for powering our increasingly hi-tech lives, the Carbon Tax in 2012 is tipped to drive electricity generators to switch to less carbon-heavy sources of energy, with less than 10 per cent of Australia's total electricity currently supplied from renewable sources.

"In terms of renewable energy sources, hydro-electricity remains the largest generator accounting for 67.2 per cent of total green energy produced; wind energy has shown the strongest growth and now accounts for nearly 22 per cent of generation, while solar energy continues to show huge potential," Dobie said.

Source: IBISWorld