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Labor’s Demographic Edge

Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia, has recently announced her intention to go to the Governor General sometime before 14 September 2013 to ask her to issue writs for a federal election on that date. Much of the recent posturing in Australian federal politics has focused on sex differences and attitudes relating to the two leaders. Financial Demographics has dug deeper into voter demographics and uncovered some sex differences in enrolled voters which may effect voting patterns in the context of a female incumbent prime minister and a male opposition competitor.

Based on statistics of the AEC’s age based distribution of enrolled voters as at December 2012, we have found that there is a significant bias in enrolled voters towards females. This has two sources. Firstly, from demography we know that at birth human populations have a male bias – a sex ratio in favour of males of about 106 males per 100 female births. However as we progress through years of age, males die at a faster rate than females and the living sex ratio at each age changes from a male surplus to a female surplus (currently around age 35). As voting age starts at 18, voters are biased more to older ages where the sex ratio changes to female surplus.

When we factor in enrolled voter data from the AEC, the percentage of population registered to vote is also much higher at older ages. For example based on our current estimate of total population by age, below age 45 only 77% of the population is registered to vote whereas over age 45, 90% are registered to vote. Our calculations show an estimated excess of females registered to vote of 540,000 more than male voters. This represents 3.8% of total voters – a substantial margin compared to the narrow margin common in federal elections.

Another sex difference factor which may be influential in the election is attitudes of single age pensioners given the substantial increases in age pension for single age pensioners while Labor has been in office federally since 2007. Single age pensioners are majority female with the excess of females over males equal to 32%. Over the 5 years since Labor came to office, single age pension has been increased by 44% while the married age pension has only been increased by 30%. Price inflation over this period has only been 14% so a lot of age pensioners could be expected to be pretty happy with Labor – females even more so.

Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013


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