Ageing of the baby boomer generation: how demographic change will impact on city and rural GP and nursing workforce

D. J. Schofield*, S. L. Page, D. M. Lyle, T. J. Walker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION: Objective: To compare the impact of ageing on the GP and nursing rural and city workforce. METHOD: Cohort analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics census data. The data was used to examine the age distribution of the city and rural GP and nursing workforce; patterns of attrition for those 50 years and over; and the impact of changes in working hours. RESULTS: The rural GP and nursing workforce is significantly older than their city counterparts (p<0.001) with the 'baby boomer' generation making up 52% of city GPs but 59% of rural GPs in 2001. While a large proportion of city and rural GPs continued to work past the age of 65 years, rural GPs left the workforce at a significantly younger age than city doctors (p<0.001). Rural nurses are older than their city peers (p<0.001) but retire at an older age than city nurses (p<0.001). In 1986, a significantly higher proportion of rural GPs in all age cohorts worked more than 41 hours per week compared with their city counterparts (p<0.001). By 2001, rural 'generation X' GPs were no more likely to work long hours than those in the city (p<0.001). However, significantly more rural than city 'baby boomers' continued to work long hours. CONCLUSIONS: Rural GPs are retiring faster than city GPs and strategies to attract rural GPs and nurses will be critical to ensure adequate rural health care and that current rural workforce shortage do not worsen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalRural and Remote Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • demographic
  • doctor
  • nurse
  • retirement ageing
  • workforce


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