The Downagers

Demographers seem to be able to get away with making up all sorts of acronyms, abbreviations and new words. If you’re not a KIPPERS, you’re a NETTEL or a DINK. The latest creation is ‘downager’, a phenomenon particularly relevant to Australia’s ageing population that will play a large role in the future in the type of properties to invest in.

Our ageing population is the result of Australians living longer than ever before. We are also retiring later and being more active as grandparents. New research from demographer Mark McCrindle shows how many Australians are in a life stage significantly younger than their age, with twentieth century expectations markedly different to those in the twenty first. As McCrindle states:

From technology uptake to working longer, older Australians are not just ‘retired and wired’ but working, leading and influencing later in life than has ever been seen.

A comparative analysis of Australians over the last 60 years shows how significant the shift has been:


1953 2013
National population

The total population has more than doubled.

10 million 23 million
Average age of becoming a grandparent

Grandparents are older chronologically but younger psychologically.

54-56 58-60
Life expectancy at birth

We can expect to live 12 years longer today

than in 1953.

M: 67

F: 73

M: 80

F: 84

Life expectancy at 65

65s of today are like 58s of a generation ago in terms of longevity.

12-15 19-22

Baby boomers are coming to be known as the ‘downagers’, as they are psychologically much younger than their age would suggest. Based on the life expectancy rates, a 65 year old grandparent is more like a 58 year old of a generation ago.

Today’s grandparents are also a working generation; one in four males aged 68 are employed full time, and one in ten females aged 68 are employed full time. This is skewed to particular industries, with the median age in education and health industries now at 45.

60 year olds now have a life expectancy of 85; when they were born it was 70. That’s three months more life for every year.

With this more active involvement of baby boomers, it means that investment properties in areas close to amenities, and close to their grandchildren, will appeal more than ever. It may not be uncommon for your inner city investment property to be snapped up by a downager in the future.


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