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Australian Social Trends Podcast Episode 13 – Young adults: Then and now Highlights from an article of the same name from the April 2013 issue of Australian Social Trends. Transcript

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Australian Social Trends Podcast

Episode 13 – Young adults: Then and now

Highlights from an article of the same name from the

April 2013 issue of Australian Social Trends.
Jane : Hello listeners and welcome to the 13th episode of the Australian Social Trends podcast series, brought to you by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. My name's Jane, and Arty’s joined me here today in the studio to discuss the topic of Young Adults: Then and now, based on an article from the April issue of Australian Social Trends. Our usual host Dave can’t join us today but we’ve decided to carry on without him.
How are you going today, Arty ?
Arty: I'm well, thanks Jane. And you?
Jane: Pretty well thanks. Ok, so just a quick recap of what’s been happening lately:
In June we released two podcasts - the first was on people identified with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, and the second was on the average Australian. If you are interested in listening to these podcasts, you can access them on our website, and they can also be accessed on iTunes.
On to today’s podcast. Today we’re looking at what young adults were like in 2011 and in 1976 – that’s 35 years ago, when Whitlam was being ousted.
Arty: A few things have happened since then.
Jane: They certainly have. But let’s get into it. First of all Arty, what do we mean when we say ‘young adults’?
Arty: Well, Jane, for this article we defined young adults as people aged between 18 and 34 years old.
Jane: Ok, so how many of these young adults are we talking about?
Arty: In June 2011, there were 5.4 million young adults, which was around a quarter of the population. But in June 1976, there were 3.8 million, which was a bit over a quarter of the population.
Jane: So although there were more young adults in 2011, the actual proportion of the population was a bit less?
Arty: That’s right. It’s all part of the ageing of the population.
Jane: Ok, so where did young adults live?
Arty: Well they generally lived in more urban areas. One in four people in major urban areas were young adults, and one in five in other urban areas. Outside urban areas, it was less again – about one in six.
Jane: So in general, bigger cities had more young adults compared with smaller towns?
Arty: Yeah, that’s right Jane. And there is a bit of a difference between the States and Territories. In 2011, the ACT and the Northern Territory had the highest proportion of young adults, at just a third of their populations, while Tasmania had the lowest proportion of young adults – about one in five.
Jane: So how does that compare with 1976? Did the Territories have the most young adults then?
Arty: Yes, they did.
Jane: That’s interesting… How about the living arrangements of young adults these days, are they similar to three decades ago?
Arty: Well there have been some big changes in that area. In 2011, two in five young adults lived with their partner, and around half of them had children. In 1976, around two thirds of young adults lived with a partner, and nearly three-quarters of them had children.
Jane: So in 2011 there were fewer young adults living with their partner, and they were less likely to have children. Does that also mean there were fewer young adults getting married?
Arty: Yes, they were delaying that as well. In 2011, less than a third of young adults were, or had been, married compared with two-thirds in 1976. As an example, a 24 year old in 1976 was nearly 5 times as likely to have been married as a 24 year old in 2011.
Jane: That is quite a difference.
Arty: Yeah, it sure is. If you look at the median age of first marriage it is a fair bit higher now. In 1976, it was 24 for men and 21 for women, compared with 30 and 28 in 2011.
Jane: Are there any other living arrangements worth mentioning?
Arty Yep – young adults in 2011 were definitely staying in the nest longer, just under a third of young adults lived with one or both of their parents, up from one in five in 1976.
Jane: That’s quite a change too.
Arty: Yes, it is.
Jane: Thanks for all that, Arty.

Now young people are known for moving house a lot. Is this true?

Arty: Well in 2011, around two-thirds of young adults were living at a different address to where they were living five years earlier, and just under one third were living at a different address to where they were living only a year earlier. They certainly move more than any other age group.
Jane: Is that different from 1976?
Arty Well the proportion moving didn’t change much, but they were doing it at a slightly later age.
Jane: Thanks for that Arty. Now let’s talk about education. Do more young adults study now?
Arty: Yeah, definitely. Nearly double the proportion of young adults were studying in 2011 than in 1976.
Jane: So does that mean more young adults have educational qualifications now?
Arty: Yes. In 1976, less than a third of young adults had a non-school qualification (that is, a qualification after year 12), and only one in twenty had a bachelor degree or higher qualification. Now, over half of young adults in 2011 had a non-school qualification, and one in 4 had a bachelor degree or higher qualification.
Jane: That’s very interesting. What about young men and women – have there been many changes in the proportions of men and women studying?
Arty: Yeah, there have. In 1976, more young men than young women were studying - 17% of men compared with 10% of women. This had changed quite a bit by 2011, to 25% of young men and 28% of young women.
Jane: How about work Arty, what’s the story there?
Arty: Well, about the same proportion of young adults were working now as they were 3 decades ago, but the proportion of men and women working has changed. A smaller proportion of men work now (about three-quarters of young men), while a higher proportion of women work now - about two-thirds.
Jane: Were they mostly working full time or part time?
Arty: Well, a lot more young adults were working part time in 2011 – a third in 2011 compared with just one in ten in 1976. But since the 70s, there’s been a general fall in full-time job opportunities for young people, and a growth in industries that offer part-time work, like retail and hospitality. Part-time hours may also work better for students and young women with children.

Jane: OK, tell me more about young adults working full time.

Arty: Well let’s first explain what working full time means. To be working full time, you have to work 35 hours or more per week.
Jane: Ok….
Arty: And usual working hours were different back in 1976. More than half of those working full time worked 40 hours per week and around a quarter worked more than 40 hours per week. However in 2011, just under a third of young people worked 40 hours a week, but around two in five worked more than 40 hours per week.
Jane: So there’s been a move away from a standard 40 hour week, but more people work longer?
Arty: Yeah, that’s right Jane.
Jane: How about combining work and study? Is that more common now?
Arty: It is more common now. More young adults combined part-time work and study in 2011 than in 1976, with a third doing so in 2011 compared with one in ten in 1976.
Jane: Right. Ok, something different again. Let’s look at where people are from. Where were most young adults born Arty?
Arty: That’s a good question Jane. The proportion of young adults born overseas has gone up a bit between 1976 and 2011, from 23% to 27%. In 1976, most young adults were born in the United Kingdom, Ireland or Europe, but in 2011, over half were born in Asia.
Jane: And what about religion, did many young adults say they had a religion?
Arty: Not so much - young adults in 2011 were more than twice as likely to have no religion as those in 1976.
Jane: And how about those who said they did have a religion – what religions did they have?
Arty: Well in both 2011 and 1976, most young adults who said they had a religion were Christian, but the proportion has changed quite a bit. In 2011, half of young adults who report a religion were Christian, compared with three quarters in 1976.
Jane: What about non-Christians?
Arty: The largest non-Christian groups for young adults in 2011 were Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindus.
Jane: Well, thank you very much for your time today Arty - you've given us some great info.
Arty: It was my pleasure Jane.
Jane: Now for listeners who'd like to know more, the full article is available on the Australian Social Trends home page at
A reminder that the April issue also has some other great articles - Towns of the mining boom, Doctors and nurses, and The average Australian; definitely worth having a look.

And we also had a release on July 25.

So that's it for this podcast. Thank you for listening and bye for now.

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