Article – NT population greying amid 'escalator migration' of Australians nearing retirement, researchers say

1 August 2014
James Purtill
ABC News
Australians nearing retirement are taking higher paying jobs in the Northern Territory to maximise superannuation returns, researchers say.
Dubbed “escalator migration”, the phenomenon is one of several factors that is greying the Top End’s population and causing a projected doubling of over 65-year-olds by 2040.
Research from Charles Darwin University (CDU) shows the number of seniors will grow because of increasing life expectancy and more retirees staying in the Territory.
Most migrants to the Territory are in their early 20s, but researchers noticed a small but noticeable increase for migrants aged 50 to 59.
“It’s a relatively new phenomenon,” CDU researcher Dr Andrew Taylor said.
“It’s small but big enough to notice a blip. Your salary in the year before you retire will partly determine your superannuation.”
He said the phenomenon was also known as the “barramundi effect” because it was mainly men who were also attracted to the NT’s outdoor lifestyle.
The research underscored the volatility of the Territory’s annual population growth rate, with people moving to the Territory for the construction of major projects and then leaving in periods of economic downturn.
Fluctuations in net interstate migration have followed cycles of economic activity.
Migration spiked in 1981-1985 following the Cyclone Tracy rebuilding, in 1994-1197 with the defence build-up under the Army Presence in the North Initiative, and in 2004-2010 with the commencement of major resource projects.
Dr Taylor said the escalator migrants were mostly moving to the Territory for only a few years.
“Ideally some of those would stay because the Territory is an unbalanced population,” he said.
“There aren’t many grandparents – they tend to retire down south where their families are anyway.
“The doubling we are seeing in the projections is coming from a small base but there is building evidence of a growing cohort of senior people approaching retirement choosing to stay in the Territory.
“In Australia we’ve known this is a coming issue but in the Territory it’s been delayed by an exceedingly young population profile.
“In part that’s because of the high proportion of Indigenous Australians – that’s kept the overall age profile of the Territory quite young.”
Indigenous life expectancy is predicted to increase, with more Indigenous people living into their 60s and 70s.
But the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and other Territorians will remain the same as non-Indigenous life expectancies also increase.
Courtesy of ABC News