Understanding population dynamics: the population pyramid and demographic transition in Australia and Indonesia

Posted on 16 February, 2021

Indonesian (original) version, click here.

Researched and written by Dinda Amalia Ichsani – AIYA National Blog Editor
Translated by Lotte Troost – AIYA National Content Translator

Neighbours by geography, and friends by choice”, is a quote that refers to the relationship between Australia and Indonesia. This close relationship between the two countries has been long-standing. As close relatives, the two countries share many similarities, spirit, and cooperation that go hand in hand as kinship foundations between Australia and Indonesia. But of course, historically these two countries have a different story. As a result, Australia’s and Indonesia’s conditions and population dynamics also differ, both spatially and temporally.

Birth or fertility, death or mortality, and population displacement or migration are three factors that influence the population growth rate. These three factors have a correlation with the population pyramid, population projection and demographic transition. The population pyramid is a graphic illustration that shows the population’s composition by age group and gender. The population projection is a calculation of the future population, based on the developmental direction of fertility, mortality and migration. Meanwhile, the demographic transition is a condition that illustrates changes in the demographic parameters.

The Situation in Australia

Changes in Australia’s population structure are characterized by a mixture of an increasing group of older adults and a relatively declining group of young people in relation to the total population. The population pyramid that develops year by year reflects this situation. It illustrates a shift from the 1925 pyramid that has a broader base, indicating a large group at the young age band, and a small top for the older adult age group, to a pyramid with a more uniform distribution of the young age group and productive age group in 2000. This pyramid eventually starts to take on the shape of a “coffin” by 2050, with all age groups being distributed relatively the same.  

Changing age structure of the Australian population, 1925-2045 (Sumber: Productivity Commission, 2005)

Right now, Australia appears to be in the fourth stage of the demographic transition model. This fourth stage characterizes low stability in which both birth rates and mortality rates show a downward trend. This situation means that Australia is experiencing a demographic transition towards an ageing population, with an increasing proportion of people in the oldest age group and a decreasing proportion of people in the youngest age group. At this stage in the demographic transition, the working-age population is growing more rapidly than the total population due to a continuous decline in the average number of children born to a woman and declining mortality rates in all age groups.

Birth Rate and Death Rate of Australia, 1950-2010 

Demographic transition of Australia, 1921-2051

Several factors have contributed to Australia’s ageing population. One factor is that families choose to have fewer children. Family planning programs, contraceptive education, and an increased female labour force also contribute to this factor. Secondly, mortality rates have declined with increased survival until old age. Due to scientific and medical findings, improved hygienic practices and knowledge about health’s importance, the mortality rate has declined. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2005), Australia’s mortality trend is mostly driven by a significant reduction in deaths from all major causes, including a reduction in infectious disease-related mortality of about 96%, an 80% reduction in respiratory diseases and 70% for vehicle accidents.

The situation in Indonesia

Indonesia’s population pyramid, based on data from the Population Census of 1971, 1980, 1990 and 2000, shows changes in the age structure of the Indonesian population. The 1971 and 1980 Indonesian population pyramids show a large proportion of the population at the young age band due to the many young people (0 – 14 years). Meanwhile, the 1990 and 2000 population pyramids show an increasing middle and upper part of the pyramid, while the lower part of the pyramid has decreased. This situation indicates that Indonesia has a growing adult and elderly population.

Indonesia’s population pyramid in 1971, 1980, 1990, dan 2000 (Source: Sensus penduduk)

The 2010 population pyramid shows a high number of young people again, being the largest population group. Meanwhile, the 2020 population pyramid seems to project a decline in the 0 – 4 age group due to a declining number of births. Then, in 2035, the population aged 0 – 14 years is expected to decrease significantly, meaning that the birth rate also reduces. With the population’s development, the middle part of the pyramid will swell, meaning that the productive age category will grow. The elderly population (> 65 years) will also increase significantly, indicating that the mortality rate will decrease.

Indonesia’s population pyramid in 2010, 2020, 2035 (Source: Heryanah, 2005)

Unlike Australia, Indonesia is now at the third stage of demographic transition. This third stage is also known as the late expanding stage because both the mortality rate and the birth rate are decreasing at a slower pace, resulting in population growth that starts to level off.

Crude Birth Rate trend (CBR), Crude Mortality Rate (CDR) and Population Growth Rate, 1990-2025

Indonesia’s declining birth rate results from its national family planning program campaign of two children being enough to achieve a happy and prosperous family. Besides, cheap contraceptives have become more widely available, and contraceptive services have been made available in rural areas. In the health sector, health programs have further improved with the development of Puskesmas services to connect people to cheap health care facilities, nutrition improvement programs for mothers, babies and toddlers, and vaccination of babies and their mothers to reduce infant mortality.

Along with the success of the family planning program in reducing fertility rates, there has been a decline in the population group aged 15 and younger. A continuous increasing working-age population also accompanies this shift. Life expectancy has also increased and supports the expansion of the working-age population. Besides, Indonesia’s declining mortality rate has partly occurred due to various antibiotic drugs and health interventions in developed countries.

When looking at Indonesia’s population projection, it is expected that Indonesia will experience a demographic bonus period during which the number of people in the productive age population (15 – 64 years) will dominate the non-productive age (under 15 years and over 64 years). This condition offers both opportunities and challenges for Indonesia. The demographic bonus may benefit Indonesia because Indonesia will have strong competitiveness and negotiating power. This bonus will encourage investors to spend their money in Indonesia, which will create job opportunities and various facility improvements. However, suppose the government and society fail to take advantage of the demographic bonus. In that case, the working-age population will only carry a burden on the country. An increasing working-age population that is not accompanied by an increased quality of human resources will only result in a high unemployment rate. Therefore, government and society must cooperate to take advantage of this condition. Eventually, this condition can become a catalyst for a better Indonesia in the future.

REFERENCES

Productivity Commission 2005, Economic Implications of an Ageing Australia, Research Report, Canberra. 

Ofori-Asenso, Richard et al. (2018). Measures of Population Ageing in Australia from 1950 to 2050. Population Aging, 11:367–385 

Heryanah. (2015). Ageing Population dan Bonus Demografi Kedua di Indonesia. Populasi, 23(2), 1-16.