In life, change is one of the only constants one can rely on. Demography is the “study of statistics that illustrate the changing structure of human populations.”1 Through the use of demography, one can track trends in statistics such as gross income, deaths, births, immigration and countless other factors. Among the various ways to study human populations are population pyramids. In the case of this research assignment, these pyramids will be used to illustrate three different populations based upon age and sex.
Figure 1 – Australia’s Population Differentiated by Age and Sex
Data obtained from Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011).2
Australia is a very diverse country that is rich in history. As of 2011, the most common countries of birth include England, New Zealand, China, India and Italy. Meanwhile, common ancestries include Irish, Scottish and Italian. 3 Over one quarter of the population, 25.9%, trace their ancestry back to England, and just slightly less than that, at 25.4%, are the people who consider themselves Australian in descent.3 Australia’s total population sits at about 21.5 million; this is an 8.3% increase from 2006. About 49.4% of the people residing in Australia are males and 50.6% are females.3
The median age of the country is 37 years old, which has been a constant figure since 2008.3 In August of 2001 10, 658, 460 people reported being a part of the labour force. Of these people, 59.7% are employed full-time while 28.7% are part-time.4 The unemployment rate is 5.6%.4 At this time, a full-time non-managerial employee made approximately $1452 on average per week. In addition, every week, the average time worked per person was 39.4 hours.4
An Australian can presume that they will have approximately 73 years of healthy life; however, the full life expectancy is about 10 years above this.5 Unfortunately, with increased longevity comes increased likelihood of disability due to illness. Australia’s healthcare system ranks well internationally. This is echoed in the continuingly high average life expectancy and dropping infant mortality rates, but the threat of a rapidly aging population may cause a burden on the healthcare system as an increasing number of people will likely fall ill to chronic diseases.6 There are serious shortages of healthcare workers, in particular general practitioners, dentists and nurses.6 These shortages are more significant in rural, remote and Indigenous areas as well as in specific areas of care such as mental health, geriatrics and disabled care. Of the doctors that are available, one quarter of them are trained overseas.6 It is not only the elderly who will be affected, many Australian children are not as healthy today as they were in previous generations; this is known as “modernity’s paradox.” Common afflictions of modern-day children include low birth weight, childhood obesity, allergies, asthma and various developmental disorders.7 Future burdens will arise as these children one day become adults and parents. The next Australian Government will combat major challenges funding and delivering adequate healthcare to its changing population. This comprises of, but is not limited to, increasing workforce supply and distribution, increased costs of medical advances, how best to balance private and public healthcare sectors and realizing that it is imperative to invest in the health of children in order to have a healthy population.7
Population: Indigenous of Australia
Figure 2 – Australia’s Indigenous Population Differentiated by Sex and Age
Data obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011).2
As of 2011, the total Indigenous population of Australia was 669, 881, which represented about 3% of the total population.2 In 2006, it was estimated that 90% of the Indigenous population was Aboriginal, 6% was Torres Strait Islander, and 4% were both.8 Of this population, the majorities, 57%, lived in either New South Wales or Queensland; however, by comparison to the total population, they were a minority and made up 2.2% and 3.6% of the population respectively.8 By contrast, though, in Northern Territory, Indigenous people made up 31.6% of the total population.8 The median age was much younger than the non-Indigenous population at 21 years of age, and life expectancy ranged from 64.8 years in females and 59.4 years in males.8 The fertility rate was 2.1 babies per woman, although teenage pregnancy is five times more likely in the Indigenous population compared to the non-Indigenous population.8
Just like in the non-Indigenous population, there is also a shortage of general practitioners, dentist and nurses; however, this is more so due to the rural and remote locations of Indigenous communities.6 In 2013, 18,368 births were registered in Australia where one or both of the child’s parents were Indigenous. Generally, Indigenous women have more children at younger ages compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts.7 Between 2012 and 2013, 40% of Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over were current daily smokers; which makes up 41% of the Indigenous population, twice the rate of the non-Indigenous population. The smoking rates are highest amongst people aged 25-34. Fortunately, this rate has decreased.7 Indigenous men have also reported drinking at levels exceeding the 2009 National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines.9 On average, Indigenous men have 10% higher and women have 30% higher drinking rates than their non-Indigenous counterparts.9 Finally, another main issue is obesity; it is very concerning that obesity rates among Indigenous people are 1.5 times higher than among non-Indigenous people.9 Almost one-third of Indigenous children 2-14 and two-thirds Indigenous people 15 and over are overweight or obese as of 2012.9
Population: Toronto, Canada
Figure 3 – Toronto’s Population Differentiated by Age and Sex
Data obtained from Statistics Canada (2011).10
Toronto is recognized as an international city and is extremely diverse. The highest shares of immigrants in Canada overall are in Toronto; 49% of residents in Toronto were immigrants as of 2011.10 As of 2011, the estimated population was 2.6 million, which also makes Toronto the largest city in Canada.10 The median age of the city is 39.2, which has increased from 38.4 in 2006. Toronto has more than 230 different ethnic backgrounds.11 Some common countries of birth include England, China, Ireland, Scotland and Italy. In May of 2011, 1,399,985 people reported being a part of the labour force; however, Torontonians have a higher unemployment rate (9.3%) than the rest of the country (7.8%).12 There are 19, 270 people living in Toronto who identify as Aboriginal (0.8% of the population); 67% were First Nations, 25% were Métis and 2% were Inuk, 1% had multiple Aboriginal identities. 12
Canada’s universal healthcare system was established over 50 years ago; however, at the time the average Ontarian was 27 years old and less likely to be living with chronic disease.13 In contrast, now, with an aging population, money needs to be aggressively invested in home and community aged care services that will allow patients to be able to live independently and comfortably in their communities for as long as possible while receiving appropriate care.14 Based on Body Mass Index reports, 29.7% of the Torontonian population is overweight and 8.5% are obese. Additionally, 25.5% of the population report having a lot of life stress which is approximately 1% higher than the provincial average.13 The use of preventative healthcare services and screening for disease including mammography, pap smear, and flu shots contribute to reduced mortality and increased life expectancy rates.14
Comparison of Populations:
Australia and Canada are very culturally similar countries in that they are both part of the British Commonwealth and influenced by Western culture.5 Both countries are comparable economically and have quite a large rural and remote population; additionally, there is a greater amount of Indigenous than non-Indigenous residents in these rural areas. It is also common between both countries for the Indigenous population to have a significantly poorer health status and under-utilize primary healthcare services than the non-Indigenous population.5 In Australia, there is a greater demand for Age Pensions and aged care spending and expectations to keep up with the most advanced diagnostic tests and medical treatments, which put burden on health spending as well.5 The Australian Indigenous population is very different in that the majority of the population is under 25 years old; however, instead of the issues of aged care they suffer from increased teen pregnancy rates and high smoking and alcohol consumption. Finally, like Australia, Canada has had a drop in fertility rates and an increased life expectancy which also causes a need for increased aged care and a healthcare budget suffice to do so.5
Significance to Discipline Practice:
The population statistics regarding Australia as a whole, the Indigenous population of Australia, and Toronto are significant to the discipline of dentistry because they identify the high-need areas in each population. In Australia and Toronto there is a significant need for aged care services, whereas in the Indigenous population of Australia there is a need for essential healthcare services to a much younger population. This is helpful to both new and existing dentists because instead of over-concentrating services in highly populated high socio-economic areas, through demographics one is able to identify low-socioeconomic, more rural areas that are most in need. Then services such as mobile dental clinics to reserves and aged care facilities can be provided seeing as remote areas and the elderly are two areas that have the highest demand for healthcare workers. Additionally, there are also opportunities in underserviced but relatively wealthier areas such as mining establishments.
Demography is an excellent way to compare different populations. In the case of this report, two of the populations (non-indigenous Australia and Toronto) are particularly similar. Population pyramids also provide a good visual for making better sense of what types of services a population might need. Upon further investigation of statistics, it becomes clear that there is need in geriatrics and rural areas. This is imperative for a healthcare professional, including dentists, because it allows one to determine whether the treatments they are providing to their patients are making a considerable difference.
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Demography. (n.d.). In Oxford Dictionaries online. Retrieved from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/demography.
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2011). Census Community Profiles: Australia. Retrieved from http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2011/comm unityprofile/0.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (August 2015). Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/mf/3235.0#PARALINK0.
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (May 2012). Employee Earnings and Hours, Australia. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6306.0/
Alford, Katrina. (July 2005). Comparing Australian with Canadian and New Zealand Primary Care Health Systems in Relation to Indigenous Populations: Literature Review and Analysis. The Onemda Association Inc. Retrieved from https://www.lowitja.org.au/sites/default/files/docs/Comparing-Australian-with- Canadian-and-NZ.pdf.
Armstrong, Bruce K., et al. (August 2007). Challenges in health and health care for Australia. The Medical Journal of Australia, volume 187 (9). Retrieved from https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2007/187/9/challenges-health-and-health-care- australia.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2015). Australia’s health 2014. Retrieved from http://www.aihw.gov.au/australias-health/2014/indigenous-health/.
Australian Human Rights Commission. (2008). A statistical overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia: Social Justice Report 2008. Retrieved from https://www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/statistical-overview- aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-peoples-australia-social.
Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (2015) Summary of Australian Indigenous health, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/health-facts/summary.
Statistics Canada. (24 October 2012). 2011 Census of Population. Retrieved from http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/dp- pd/prof/details/page.cfm?Lang=E&Geo1=POPC&Code1=0944&Geo2=PR&Cod e2=35&Data=Count&SearchText=Toronto&SearchType=Begins&SearchPR=35 &B1=All&Custom=&TABID=1.
City of Toronto. (9 May 2013). 2011 National Household Survey: Immigration, Citizenship, Place of Birth, Ethnicity, Visible Minorities, Religion and Aboriginal Peoples. Retrieved from http://www1.toronto.ca/city_of_toronto/social_development_finance__administra tion/files/pdf/nhs_backgrounder.pdf.
City of Toronto. (26 June 2013). 2011 National Household Survey: Labour Force, Education, Place of Work, Commuting and Mobility. Retrieved from https://www1.toronto.ca/city_of_toronto/social_development_finance__administr ation/files/pdf/nhs-backgrounder-labour-education-work-commuting.pdf.
Statistics Canada. (25 January 2008). Some facts about the demographic and ethnocultural composition of the population. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/91-003-x/2007001/4129904-eng.htm.
Bains, Namrata, et al. (2005). Population Health Profile: Toronto Central LHIN. Health System Intelligence Project (HSIP). Retreived from http://www.health.gov.on.ca/transformation/providers/information/resources/profi les/profile_toronto.pdf.
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