How living to 100 changes Australia’s future

I’ve been playing club cricket for 40 years and although my forte is bowling, I consider myself at least handy with the bat. Despite this, I’ve never managed to make 100. At least not yet. I haven’t given up hope, but the odds are against it. However, according to the latest numbers, my chances of living to 100 are rising.

More Australians are living to 100 than ever before, and that figure is set to continue rising at a strong rate. Of course, there are many factors that determine your ultimate lifespan, not least among those the hereditary ones. On that front, I’m looking good to at least go close to bringing up the ‘ton’. Both my parents lived into their mid-90s.

Good genes are only part of the equation, of course. Living conditions, access to medical care and diet also play a big part. On that front, Australia is doing very well, as the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveal.

The ABS data shows that 6,192 Aussies were 100 years or older in 2023. Wind the clock back four decades and we can see that fewer than 200 Australians were 100 or older. Now, Australia’s overall population is much larger than in 1983, so the number of centenarians would have risen, too.

That is indeed true. So let’s take a look at the proportion of our population aged 100 or older. The 6,192 Australian centenarians in 2023 represented 0.023 per cent of the country’s population. It’s an extremely small proportion, but the proportion of 100-year-old Australians in 1983 was much smaller still, at around 0.001 per cent. 

Put another way, in 1983 one out of every 100,000 Australians were over 100 years old. Now, 23 out of every 100,000 Australians are 100-plus.

Living to 100 – a reason to celebrate?

So, on the basis of raw probability numbers, the chances of you and me living to 100 are far greater than 40 years ago. That’s got to be a good thing, right? In theory, yes, but to turn an old saying on its head, every silver lining belongs to a cloud.

There are two ways we could view living to 100 as being a problem, rather than a good thing. Firstly, on an individual basis, we may not be overly happy as 100-year-olds if we’re not in good relative health. I like the idea of living to 100, but not if my 100-year-old self is incapable of living well. 

Secondly, we must consider the ramifications of an older population for the nation as a whole. Separate ABS data shows Australia’s fertility rate at a near-record low. Given the concerns about world overpopulation, it’s tempting to view that low rate as a positive.

But there is another side to the low-fertility-rate coin – a rising average and median age. In time, this is likely to have a significant effect on Australia’s workforce and health system. Specifically, more Aussies living to 100 could result in a country with an under-resourced workforce and a health system strained by an ageing population.

Managing the change

It seems somewhat counterintuitive to feel we should be concerned about more of us living to 100. Nevertheless, ignoring the challenges that reality presents is not going to help anyone. Planning for the two main challenges – an under-resourced workforce and an ageing population, according to Demographer Amanda Davies – will be critical.

The good news from Australia’s point of view is that there are countries further along a similar trajectory to ours. Learning from those countries will help us manage our future population challenges, says Dr Davies. 

“Japan’s a fantastic example of a country that is more advanced in ageing than we are,” she says. Incorporating technology to allow older people to live and even work comfortably is one step Japan has already taken.

“There are already a lot of tech companies developing in that space. AI robots and services to check up on people’s health and well-being, remind you to take your pills, have a chat to it to keep your mental faculties going,” she said.

Like it or not, more Australians are living to 100. That reality presents both opportunities and challenges. Let’s hope our governments, and we as a society, address those challenges adequately and make the most of those opportunities. 

Meanwhile, I’ll keep playing cricket, and who knows? Maybe I’ll make it to 100, with the bat on the cricket field, or in life. Or, with a bit of luck, both!

Do you see yourself living to 100? How well do you think Australia is prepared to handle our ageing population? Let us know via the comments section below.

Also read: Blood pressure and ageing: what’s the link?

Health disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.


  1. Be OK to live to 100 or more as long as you can remain reasonably healthy.
    I am still good at 74 and enjoying life but I have friends who are not so fortunate and some have passed on.
    There is no simple or easy answer to the question of age related illness and how far treatment should go to preserve life.

  2. When living past 75 seemed a milestone, it was still the last couple of years of life when health declined rapidly. But better care of our bodies has now put that off two decades. However, it’s still going to happen that the last couple of years is when the pressure will be on the health system. Nothing new about that. We should regard this as proof of an advanced society and not perceive it as a burden.

- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -