CEPAR is supported by
Skip Navigation Links Home NEWS & EVENTS Media Releases Media Releases 2011
Search CEPAR
Filter by
House Price Slides Highlight That Houses May Be A Risky Asset
6 December 2011

Now that house prices have been on the slide for ten straight months, a major new study from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR) is showing where the largest falls are, and how this is impacting on savings in Australia.

Michael Sherris, a Chief Investigator at CEPAR, says "the recent international credit crisis has shown the vulnerability to major market collapses in residential property prices of both individuals and financial institutions such as banks who lend to finance residential property. Australia is not immune to global events, and many people may be more exposed than they expect."

Australian house prices are falling at an accelerating rate according to data from RP Data-Rismark, with Sydney's dwelling values down 1.4 per cent in 2011. For the nation, seasonally adjusted home prices have dropped 4 per cent so far in 2011, and are forecast to fall much further.

Professor Sherris says this is an area of concern for many homeowners. "Residential property is a major component of individual savings in many countries including Australia. Home ownership is high however property values are not as observable as share prices and other financial assets where individuals save. That's why we need much more data on where and by how much there has been a fall."

After years on a pricing plateau due to a shortage of supply, when many people saw housing as a good way to save for old age and safer than money in the bank, Australian domestic house prices are now steadily falling. That is causing risks for those with a small deposit, and homeowners with large mortgages, or poor loan-to-value ratios. He says "in effect, some homeowners who thought they were saving are now seeing much of the equity in their home evaporate."

According to data analysed in the study, the highest returns were realised in Sydney's Central Business District and along the harbour area. If treated as an asset, houses there have an average annual return of over ten percent, beating many other investments. However in other areas, the returns are much lower. It also depends when you 'realise your assets' - or sell your house. "There are significant above-average sales results in the second and fourth quarter and significant below-average sales in the first quarter."

Michael Sherris says when evaluating the risk, a broader assessment than just national house price indices is needed. "Most assessment of risk and growth in property prices is based on market wide indices yet the performance of residential property can be regionalised and it does vary across postcodes and individual houses. The new research shows how applying the latest

statistical modelling techniques at a postcode level can indicate how risky it is to just take an overview of house prices. It is important to understand how prices vary with postcodes and the overall market which identify the key factors that drive price growth and risks."


CEPAR Hosts National Conference For Emerging Researchers In Ageing
25 November 2011

More than 100 participants of the tenth national Emerging Researchers in Ageing (ERA) conference gained insights into the latest dementia research trials being conducted by distinguished Psychiatry Scientia Professor, Dr Henry Brodaty AO.

Professor Brodaty, of the University of New South Wales, was a keynote speaker at the ERA conference, hosted by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR), held today at the UNSW Kensington campus.

In his role as Director of the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre at UNSW, Professor Brodaty is involved in several studies aimed at discovering causes of and preventable factors in cognitive decline and dementia. The largest of these, the Sydney Memory and Ageing Study (MAS), involves more than 1000 people from eastern Sydney who were aged 70-90 when they were recruited from the Electoral Roll six years ago.  He led a team that recently developed and launched a new online dementia screening tool for GPs known as the GPCOG, which is available on the web in 11 languages.

Professor Brodaty presented evidence of the benefits of physical and mental activity on maintaining cognitive function and delaying the onset of dementia. There is also evidence for the benefit of diet and avoiding or treating obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and depression.

'Neurodegenerative diseases are destined to be the main driver of health burden and disability in the 21st century. With numbers of people with dementia in Australia set to quadruple over the next 40 years, the impact on society and the economy will be huge. There is a great need, and many opportunities, for researchers to work in the dementia field,' Professor Brodaty said.

The implications of population ageing on the Australian workforce was another major theme of the conference. Professor Peter McDonald, CEPAR Deputy Director and leading national demographer based at the Australian National University, told delegates that as a result of population ageing, future growth of the labour force is dependent on immigration.

'Population ageing is a significant challenge facing the Australian labour force. The only way we are currently structured to meet the growing demand for both skilled and unskilled labour is through immigration. Australia's immigration policy will have to remain flexible to meet the labour market needs,' Professor McDonald said.

The two keynote speakers were joined by more than 40 up-and-coming researchers in the field of population ageing. ERA is the only national conference showcasing the research of postgraduate students in population ageing. It was also an opportunity for participants to connect with CEPAR, a major new multi-disciplinary research centre, and to network with their peers, academics and policy-makers. For more visit the conference website at www.asb.unsw.edu.au/ERAConference.                



Healthy Ageing More Important Than Aged Care
11 November 2011

Deep-seated ageism is at the core of our culture and at the heart of an unproductive government approach to healthy ageing, says Professor Hal Kendig, Director of the Ageing, Work and Health Research Unit in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney.

Average life expectancy increased by 20 years during the 20th century and by the middle of the 21st century it is projected that one in four Australians will be aged over 65.

"But how healthy and satisfying will these 20 years be for people?" ask Professor Kendig and his Monash University collaborator, Professor Colette Browning.

In an October article published in the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia's Dialogues journal, Professor Kendig and Professor Browning said local and international research shows how earlier social interventions can yield returns later in life through generating greater independence, health and productivity.

Yet, they say, little government action is being taken in response to studies that show the inadequacy of a policy approach that only focuses on chronic disease and aged care in middle and later life.

The promise of a new 'Ministry in Ageing' a decade ago, for example, quickly became the 'Ministry for Aged Care', with scant attention being paid to social and policy influences on healthy ageing. And while the Productivity Commission Report on Caring for Older Australians, released in August 2011, commends the 'wellness approach', progress in recommending ways to implement that approach has been limited.

Professor Kendig says a further problem is that older people are often used as scapegoats to argue for fiscal restraint and productivity increases to avoid encumbering future generations. This creates tensions between 'economic development' and the 'perceived burden of ageing populations'.

However, change may be coming. A new generation of research is demonstrating that the processes of ageing can be improved with a range of 'bio-psycho-social' influences, with a particular focus on the social aspect of ageing. At an intergovernmental level, the United Nations has called for a 'society for all ages' that promotes healthy ageing to achieve global health goals.

"Part of this could involve understanding psychosocial influences on health to guide health promotion and encourage independence and wellbeing," say Professor Browning and Professor Kendig. "The problem is that doctors have limited time to work with patients to change the behaviours that often contribute to the onset of chronic disease and poor quality of life."

Nevertheless, Professor Kendig is optimistic about the prospects for change following the funding last year of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (2011-2017), which is led by the University of New South Wales, the Australian National University, and the University of Sydney.

The centre has a focus on healthy ageing and economic and productive aspects of ageing as well as the support of the Commonwealth Treasury and other federal departments.

Implications Of Population Ageing On The Australian Workforce
25 October 2011

As Australia faces significant intergenerational challenges, the impact of population ageing on the Australian workforce is increasingly concerning. Will there be fewer workers to support retirees and young dependents?

This is a central question of one of the keynote addresses at an upcoming conference at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR), hosted by Professor John Piggott, Director of CEPAR.

Professor Peter McDonald, from the Australian National University will present on labour force participation in Australia at the annual Emerging Research in Ageing conference (ERA). The presentation will include an analysis of the older Australians who continue to work and an examination of the long-term impacts of immigration on the labour force, with a discussion of the policy implications.

ERA is a national conference showcasing the research of postgraduate students in population ageing. The conference presents a unique opportunity for participants to connect with this major new multi-disciplinary centre and to network with their peers, academics and policy-makers.

For information regarding the conference including speakers, registration, dates and fees, click here.

2011 Emerging Researcher in Ageing (ERA) Conference, 24 -25 November, University of New South Wales, Sydney.

CEPAR Director To Open The Ian Castles Tax Roundtable
10 October 2011

CEPAR Director, John Piggott, will open the Ian Castles roundtable on tax and social security at the Australian National University (ANU) on13th October.

John Piggott will be one of two Henry Review Panel members to set the scene. He will discuss taxation and superannuation issues alongside fellow panel member, Jeff Harmer, Secretary of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, who will discuss transfers and the age pension.

The workshop brings together government, academic and industry experts to discuss taxation and social security reform. Other key presenters include Hazel Bateman, Director, Centre for Pensions and Centre for Pensions; Professor Peter Whiteford, Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW; and former Australian Statistician, Dennis Trewin.

'This is a timely follow-up to last week's tax forum. It is a chance for people from government, academia, the not-for-profit sector and the private sector to analyse the outcomes of the tax forum, and consider the reform priorities for Australia's tax and social security system in light of the Henry and Harmer reports,' Professor Piggott said.

'If Australia is to meet the challenges of an ageing society, reforming our tax and social security system has to be a priority.'

The annual roundtable is held in honour of Ian Castles AO OBE (1935 - 2010), former Secretary of the Department of Finance (1979-86), Australian Statistician and visiting fellow at ANU. The 2011 roundtable is being hosted by ANU in partnership with the Australia and New Zealand School of Government and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.

Professor Hal Kendig Chairs Ageing Roundtable At Parliament House
15 September 2011

Professor Hal Kendig is today chairing the Ageing Roundtable at Parliament House for the NSW Premier and Minister for Ageing. The event brings together leading researchers in ageing issues, key stakeholders, policy makers from NSW Government departments and Ministers. The NSW Government will release further information on the presentations and proceedings in due course.

Professor Michael Keane Awarded ARC Laureate Fellowship
17 August 2011

Professor Michael Keane from the Australian School of Business has been awarded a prestigious ARC Laureate Fellowship.

The fellowship will allow Professor Keane to undertake a major new program of modelling to design new policies in areas such as health insurance, aged care and superannuation. This will eventually help people with their superannuation choices and decision making when it comes to working out where to invest, and so make better retirement decisions and improve their wellbeing in retirement.

Professor Keane said "Prudent decisions in relation to private health insurance, superannuation and aged care are becoming increasingly important for people to reach retirement with adequate provision of resources. With substantial flow-on implications for the Australian aged pension system, developing a better understanding of how people make decisions in these three key areas is of clear national importance. For example, we need to work out why and how people choose one fund over another, or differentiate between the risks in investments or types of insurance."

Professor Alec Cameron, Dean of the Australian School of Business at the University of New South Wales said "I am delighted that Professor Keane has been awarded the Fellowship. He is a leading international expert in the fields of econometrics and applied microeconomics. Ranked in the top 1% of Economists worldwide, Professor Keane has an outstanding, sustained track record in methodological innovations in statistics, particularly in the area of choice modelling."

"Professor Keane's research is a living example of ASB's mission to build high impact research that is both rigorous and relevant to the broader community. Highly complementary to his role within the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research, his research will position Australia as a research leader in this field internationally, and produce outcomes of major economic and social benefit to Australia," said Professor Alec Cameron.

The Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship scheme supports excellence in research by providing project funding in addition to a salary supplement and salary-related support for world-class researchers and research leaders to use their talents in Australia.

Young Researchers In Population Ageing Receive $1.25 Million Funding Boost
25 July 2011

The ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR) has been awarded $1.25 million by the Australian Research Council to support early career researchers (ECR). Funds will be used to support an ECR Workshop and Master-Class Program, as well as providing six Early Career Research Fellowships for young researchers to partner with more senior CEPAR academics on specific research projects.

CEPAR's Director, Scientia Professor John Piggott, said the award would considerably strengthen support for early career researchers. "One of CEPAR's most important objectives is to develop future research capabilities in the field of population ageing", he said. "This grant will enable us to much better deliver on that goal".

The six fellowships, to be shared between CEPAR's nodes at ANU and UNSW, will   fund research about the economic impacts of demographic change, pension policy, demographic projection and health.   

This is the second major tranche of research funding CEPAR has been awarded since its establishment in March 2011. Earlier this year, it was awarded $500,000 by the NSW Government's Science Leveraging Fund for projects in retirement finance and health. These funds were shared between CEPAR's UNSW and Sydney University nodes.



The ARC Centre for Population Ageing Research, which was established in March 2011, brings together researchers, government and industry to address one of the major social challenges of the 21st century. It will establish Australia as a world leader in the field of population ageing research through a unique combination of high level, cross-disciplinary expertise drawn from Economics, Psychology, Sociology, Epidemiology, Actuarial Science, and Demography. Drawing on strong international networks and powerful industry alliances, it will produce research that will transform thinking about population ageing, inform private and public sector policy and yield outcomes that improve the well-being of the aged and their social and economic environment.

Administering organisation:


Collaborating and partner organisations:

  • The Australian National University
  • The University of Sydney
  • University of Nottingham
  • School of Economics, University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • The University of Newcastle, UK
  • Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Manchester 
  • PriceWaterhouseCoopers
  • Medibank Private
  • Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA)
  • Commonwealth Treasury
  • Department of Health and Ageing
  • AMP
CEPAR Awarded Prestigious Harvard Australia Conference Grant
20 May 2011

The ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR), in collaboration with the Program on the Global Demography of Aging (PGDA) at Harvard University, will host a two day conference on the Economics of Population Ageing at Harvard University in late 2012. The conference, with the financial support of the Harvard University Australian Studies Committee, will bring together leading academic economists from disparate fields who have an interest in population ageing, to share perspectives and present their current research on this pressing topic.

Convened by CEPAR's Director John Piggott, UNSW Node Leader Alan Woodland, and PGDA's Director David Bloom, the conference will serve to strengthen ties between the two organizations and lay the foundation for ongoing collaboration.

"CEPAR is delighted to be partnering with Harvard's Program on the Global Demography of Aging, which is recognized globally for its excellent research on health and population ageing issues," said co-convener John Piggott. "We are most grateful to the Harvard University Australian Studies Committee for making this possible."

Co-convener David Bloom is also excited about the opportunities the conference presents. "It will bring together the world's leading economists in the field of Population Ageing, to synthesize and critically review the discipline's research contributions to date, and to scope a future agenda," he said.

CEPAR Funding Announced
19 July 2010

A team led by Professor John Piggott at the Australian School of Business has secured $12.7m in funding over the next 7 years for an Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence to examine population ageing.

This achievement has immense significance for the Australian School of Business, economic and business research and the social sciences.  The level of funding is orders of magnitude larger than any research funding the School has previously received.

The grant will enable a team, which also includes Professor Mike Sherris and Professor Alan Woodland from the Australian School of Business, to create a research centre that will become a global intellectual hub focused on population ageing, combining in-house expertise with leading researchers around the world, who will study the population ageing process and its implications for both the private and public sectors.

It will provide Australia with the most innovative solutions to the global phenomenon of population ageing, which Professor John Piggott describes as one of the major social challenges of the 21st century. "Over the next 40 years the number of people of working age will increase by 45%, but the number of people aged between 65 and 84 will more than double, and those 86 and above will increase more than 4 times. Quite simply, there will be many more people who have retired, that need the support of the working population."

He says "these changes in demographic structure will have large effects on the economic and social fabric of many countries, creating major challenges. All of us will need to respond to dramatically changing financial circumstances to increase the well-being of an ageing society. Government, business, and households alike need this research to understand the fiscal, family, health, and labour force changes that will shortly be with us."

The Australian School of Business is the first business school to be awarded a centre of excellence. The Centre will undertake original research to advance knowledge globally. International linkages will encompass the WHO, the OECD and the World Bank, who will be invited to join the Advisory Committee.

Professor John Piggott will become Centre Director of the new Centre of Excellence, which is underpinned by the Australian Institute for Population Ageing Research (AIPAR) at the Australian School of Business.

Professor John Piggott adds "a major aim of the new Centre is to cultivate a two-way engagement with external stakeholders. Boardroom briefings, seminars and workshops organised with government agencies, and industry representation at our annual conferences, are just some of the activities aimed at ensuring a deep and meaningful engagement. The Centre will use the infrastructure provided by AGSM Executive Education programs to deliver professional education on issues related to population ageing."

Marc de Cure, who chairs the Leaders Forum at the Australian Institute for Population Ageing Research, has been key in lending his experience and influence to secure industry support for the vision of a world-class centre for cross-disciplinary research on population ageing issues. In addition to the ARC grant he has helped to secure $1.45m in government support and over $5.4 million in cash and in-kind support from industry, including Bain, National Australia Bank, Stockland and PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Medibank and AMP.

Marc de Cure, who chairs the Leaders Forum at the Australian Institute for Population Ageing Research, has been key in lending his experience and influence to secure industry support for the vision of a world-class centre for cross-disciplinary research on population ageing issues. In addition to the ARC grant he has helped to secure $1.45m in government support and over $5.4 million in cash and in-kind support from industry, including Bain, National Australia Bank, Stockland and PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Medibank and AMP.

The Centre will nurture a new generation of young researchers, by training PhD students and early career researchers, to build high quality research capacity for a generation for which population change will become ever more crucial.