, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 571-585
Date: 27 Apr 2012

Demographic Consequences of the ‘Closing the Gap’ Indigenous Policy in Australia

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The demography of Indigenous Australians is distinguished from that of other Australians by relatively high mortality and fertility leading to very different composition by age. This is beginning to change as movement towards a convergence in vital rates is observed. In the meantime, the Australian government has established targets for Indigenous socioeconomic outcomes that simultaneously impact on, and are affected by, the course of demographic change. This paper examines the relationship between these targets and projected Indigenous demographic outcomes that arise from incipient population ageing. The most likely scenario is movement into an indeterminate period of potential demographic dividend. If demand for Indigenous labour expands alongside reductions in age dependency this could provide for dramatic improvement in Indigenous economic circumstances. However, caution is warranted as disparities in adult mortality require long-term solutions and movement into a second phase of demographic transition appears likely to be delayed.