Valley population is 'hollowing out'
KIDS are leaving the Valley and that is the key issue for the region - like many other regions - says demographer Bernard Salt.
This "hollowing out" of the younger bracket happens in a variety of ways and has meant that while the population of the Clarence Valley has remained relatively stable it, has become heavily skewed towards an older demographic.
The key graph (above) that illustrates this issue relates to the population distribution by age.
In it, the difference between the Australian trends and the Clarence Valley's trends are that this area is losing people from the age of 18 onwards .
"At 18 the kids leave for job opportunities or education or training in bigger cities and they stay away and don't get them back home into the Clarence until about 50," Mr Salt said.
When those population trends are shown in five-year age groupings it becomes more stark.
"There are significant increases in the baby boomer demographic which are basically retirees moving into the community and there is significant outflow - the 35 through to 50 age groups - and they are taking their teenage kids with them," he said.
While this may not be too much of a surprise for many in the community, it is important to understand exactly how and when people are moving in and out of the Clarence and how those demographic changes occur.
Mr Salt admitted the Clarence would probably never reach the same average age of somewhere like Sydney or Brisbane but it was important to try and lessen the gap between our region and the cities.
"The reason why that is desirable is this - people in their twenties and thirties buy consumer goods, they form families, they have babies, they work, they pay tax, they play sport, they volunteer and they inject youth and energy and aspiration into your community," Mr Salt said.
"If you allow it to leak out you lessen all of those qualities."