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Peter McDonald

The talk begins with a discussion of the demography of population ageing showing how population ageing is primarily the result of falls in fertility in the relatively distant past. This demography is demonstrated through an international comparison of population ageing. Turning to Australia, the more than 100-year history of population ageing is described indicating why population ageing did not emerge as a policy issue in the 1975 Report of the National Population Inquiry but did so soon afterwards. The focus then shifts to current and future population ageing in Australia, with a brief consideration of its causes and consequences. As with other inexorable long-term trends (e.g. climate change), future population ageing can be considered in a framework of amelioration or adaptation.


Peter McDonald is Professor of Demography in the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health and Emeritus Professor of Demography of the Australian National University. He was Head of ANU Demography from 1996 to 2013 and President of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population for the years, 2010-13. In 2015, he received the Irene B. Taeuber Award of the Population Association of America, the Association’s highest award, being only the fourth non-American to receive this award. His theory of gender equity and fertility has underpinned population policy in many countries with low birth rates. In Autralia, for the past 20 years, he has provided advice to successive governments on immigration policy. In December 2018, he was invited by the current Prime Minister to address COAG on population policy in Australia.

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