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Perspectives on Sport

The National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics (NCCRS), through the 'Perspectives on Sport' series, provides insights on a range of topics

Reference period
April 2014

Socio-economic variations in sport and physical recreation participation rates

Introduction

Studies have shown that certain groups in the Australian population are least likely to participate in sport and physical recreation, and thus are at greater risk of bearing the individual, social and economic costs of physical inactivity. These include people with a disability, people born overseas, Indigenous Australians, older adults, women, and people with lower socio-economic status (Endnote 1). It has been suggested that a number of factors can help or hinder levels of physical activity in the community; including public policy, individual biological determinants (age, gender, health status), socio-cultural (interpersonal) and psychosocial (intrapersonal) factors, in addition to a range of environmental influences, including social, economic and physical environment determinants (Endnote 2).

Using data from the Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation topic in the ABS 2011–12 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS), this article explores the relationship between adult participation rates in sport and physical recreation, and demographic and socio-economic factors, such as birthplace, family composition, income, socio-economic status and education.

Analysis has been undertaken at the national level and the state and territories level, where data supports state level analysis.

Where age is a contributing influence, an age standardisation process has been conducted as appropriate, as part of the analysis. Age standardisation is a method of removing the influence of age when comparing populations with different age structures. As participation in sport is strongly related to age, we are interested in differences in demographic and socio-economic populations other than those caused by age.

This article is separated into two parts. Part 1 analyses demographic and socio-economic variables where age is not a contributing influence and so age standardisation has not been applied. Part 2 analyses demographic and socio-economic variables where age is a contributing influence and so age standardisation has been applied to remove this influence.

Note that all data comparisons in this article should be considered statistically significantly different unless otherwise indicated.

Part 1: Demographic and socio-economic variables not influenced by age

Due to the similar age structures between populations in the following demographic and socio-economic variables, an age standardisation process was not conducted.

Birthplace

People born in Australia had higher participation rates in sport and physical recreation than those born overseas (67% and 59% respectively). Tasmania was the only state or territory where people born overseas had higher participation rates than those born in Australia (77% and 68% respectively).

Of those born in Australia, the Australian Capital Territory reported the highest participation rate of any state or territory (84%).

However, those born overseas in main English-speaking countries (Canada, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom, and United States of America) had slightly higher participation rates than those born in Australia (70% and 67% respectively), although there is not enough evidence to suggest that this difference is statistically significant.

While the differences in participation rates between those born in Australia and those born overseas in main English-speaking countries differ for all states and territories, with the exception of New South Wales and Tasmania, these differences are not statistically significant.

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Source(s): ABS 2011-12 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS)

Those born overseas in a non-main English-speaking country had the lowest participation rate of all persons (53%), with males having higher participation rates than females (57% and 47% respectively).

Participation rates were similar for males and females born in Australia (68% and 67% respectively) and for those born overseas in main English-speaking countries (69% and 70% respectively).

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Source(s): ABS 2011-12 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS)

Socio-economic advantage and disadvantage

The Index of Relative Socio-economic Advantage and Disadvantage (IRSAD) summarises information about the economic and social resources of people and households within an area, including both relative advantage and disadvantage measures. A low score indicates relatively greater disadvantage and a lack of advantage in general. For example, an area could have a low score if there are (among other things) many households with low incomes, or many people in unskilled occupations and few households with high incomes, or few people in skilled occupations. A high score indicates a relative lack of disadvantage and greater advantage in general. For example, an area may have a high score if there are (among other things) many households with high incomes, or many people in skilled occupations and few households with low incomes, or few people in unskilled occupations.

For the purpose of this analysis, Australians have been grouped into one of five categories, according to their socio-economic status, ranging from the lowest quintile (comprising the lowest 20% of households) to the highest quintile (comprising the top 20% of households).

Participation rates in sport and physical recreation increased with each successive quintile. Australians living in the areas of lowest advantage/greatest disadvantage had lower participation rates than those living in the areas of lowest disadvantage/greatest advantage (52% and 78% respectively). This pattern was seen across all states and territories.

Of those living in the areas of lowest disadvantage/greatest advantage, Tasmanians reported the highest participation rate of any state or territory (92%).

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a. Index of Relative Socio-economic Advantage and Disadvantage
b. participation rates for NT and ACT in the lowest and second quintiles are not available for publication but are included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated
Source(s): ABS 2011-12 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS)

Part 2: Demographic and socio-economic variables influenced by age

The following demographic and socio-economic variables have populations with different age structures. For example, when comparing the broad groups of birthplace, people born in Europe were much older than those born in Asia. This reflects patterns of Australian immigration over the past 60 years, with significant numbers of migrants coming from Europe in the 1950s and 1960s, an influx of Asian migrants from the 1980s onwards, and more recently, increasing numbers from Africa. Due to these differences in age structure, an age standardisation process was conducted. An age standardisation rate removes the effects of different age structures when comparing population groups or changes over time. The standardised rate is that which would have prevailed if the actual population had the standard age composition.

The following discussions are based on age standardised results.

Birthplace (broad groups)

The highest participation rate in sport and physical recreation was reported by people who were born in Sub-Saharan Africa (74%), with the lowest rate reported by people born in North Africa and the Middle East (41%).

Those born in North-West Europe had a higher participation rate than those born in Southern and Eastern Europe (67% and 62% respectively). This trend was seen across states and territories, other than Victoria where the higher rate was reported by those born in Southern and Eastern Europe (59% and 64% respectively). There is not enough evidence to suggest that any of these differences are statistically significant.

Those born in Southern and Central Asia had higher participation rates than those born in South-East Asia and North-East Asia (59%, 49% and 47% respectively).

Participation rates were similar for males and females born in Oceania and Antarctica (both 67%), North-West Europe (both 67%), and Southern and Eastern Europe (61% and 63% respectively). Males had higher participation rates than females in all other birthplaces. With the exception of South-East Asia, there is not enough evidence to suggest these differences are statistically significant.

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a. age standardised to the age composition of the total Estimated Resident Population of Australia as at 30 June 2001
Source(s): ABS 2011-12 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS)

Family composition of household

Participation rates in sport and physical recreation were higher for persons in couple only (69%) and lone person (67%) households than those living in couple family (59%) and single parent family (55%) households with dependent children.

Except for single parent family households with dependent children, females had higher participation rates than males in all of the other household family compositions. There is not enough evidence to suggest that these differences are statistically significant with the exception of lone person households (72% of female lone person households compared with 64% of male lone person households).

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a. age standardised to the age composition of the total Estimated Resident Population of Australia as at 30 June 2001
Source(s): ABS 2011-12 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS)

In South Australia, persons in couple family households with dependent children had similar participation rates to those in couple only households (58% and 57% respectively). In Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, persons living alone had higher participation rates than those in one parent family households with dependent children (for Victoria, 71% and 62% respectively; Queensland 62% and 48%; South Australia 61% and 48%; Western Australia 70% and 50%). While the trend was also seen in the remaining states and territories, there is not enough evidence to suggest these differences are statistically significant.

In Tasmania, persons living in couple only households had a higher participation rate in sport and physical recreation than persons living alone (79% and 62% respectively).

In Victoria and the ACT, couple families with dependent children had the lowest participation rates of all household types (59% and 69% respectively).

Persons in couple only households in the Australian Capital Territory reported the highest participation rate compared to any other state or territory (87%).

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a. age standardised to the age composition of the total Estimated Resident Population of Australia as at 30 June 2001
Source(s): ABS 2011-12 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS)

Equivalised household income

Equivalising adjusts actual income to take into account the different needs of households of different sizes and compositions, so 'equivalised household income' can be seen as an indicator of the economic resources available to each member of the household. It reflects the requirement of a larger household to have a higher level of income to achieve the same standard of living as a smaller household.

For the purpose of this analysis, Australians have been grouped into one of five categories, according to their equivalised household income, ranging from the lowest quintile (comprising the lowest 20% of households) to the highest quintile (comprising the top 20% of households).

Participation rates in sport and physical recreation increased with each successive quintile, from 49% in the lowest to 80% in the highest. This pattern was generally seen across all states and territories.

People living in Tasmania reported the highest participation rates in the second, fourth and highest quintiles (67%, 88% and 92% respectively).

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a. age standardised to the age composition of the total Estimated Resident Population of Australia as at 30 June 2001
Source(s): ABS 2011-12 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS)

Education

Research has demonstrated that higher education levels can be associated with increased physical activity (Endnote 3). People with higher levels of education may be more informed about the health consequences of lifestyle behaviours, leading them to undertake more frequent and intense physical activity.

Highest year of school completed

Participation rates in sport and physical recreation increased with higher levels of schooling completed, from 38% for Year 8 or below to 73% for Year 12. For those whose highest year of school completed was Year 12, males had higher participation rates than females (75% and 72% respectively).

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a. age standardised to the age composition of the total Estimated Resident Population of Australia as at 30 June 2001
Source(s): ABS 2011-12 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS)

Other than in South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, this pattern of increased participation with higher levels of schooling was seen across states and territories, although there is not enough evidence to suggest that these differences are statistically significant. In South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, participation rates were similar for males and females (South Australia, 72% and 71% respectively; Australian Capital Territory, 83% and 84% respectively).

Level of highest non-school qualification

Those who completed a non-school qualification had higher participation rates in sport and physical recreation than those who did not complete a non-school qualification (72% and 55% respectively).

Participation rates generally increased with higher levels of non-school qualification, from 67% for a Certificate I or II to 79% for a Postgraduate degree. Those who stated that their highest non-school qualification was an advanced diploma/diploma or above, had higher participation rates than those who stated that their highest non-school qualification was a Certificate III/IV or below (74% and 66% respectively).

Males who completed a Graduate Diploma or graduate certificate as their highest non-school qualification had higher participation rates than females whose highest level was the same (76% and 61% respectively).

Participation rates were generally higher for males compared to females across the remaining levels of highest non-school qualification, but there is not enough evidence to suggest these differences are statistically significant.

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a. age standardised to the age composition of the total Estimated Resident Population of Australia as at 30 June 2001
Source(s): ABS 2011-12 Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS)

In New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, the level of highest non-school qualification with the highest participation rate was a Bachelor degree (78%, 76%, 82%, 78% and 86% respectively). In Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, the highest rate was a Postgraduate degree (77% and 89% respectively) and in the Northern Territory an Advanced diploma or diploma (86%).

Summary

This article has shown that adult participation rates in sport and physical recreation varied across socio-economic indicators.

Participation rates generally increased with higher levels of education, socio-economic status and equivalised household income, suggesting an association between these variables and adult participation.

Birthplace also impacted on participation, with those born overseas in a non-main English-speaking country less likely to participate than those born in Australia and in other main English-speaking countries (53%, 67% and 70% respectively).

Family composition appeared to have less of an influence on adult participation rates. Despite couple families with dependent children and couples having higher rates at the national level than one parent families and persons living alone respectively, these differences were not statistically significant.

Endnotes

  1. Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, 2010, Participation in physical activity: A determinant of mental and physical health. http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/~/media/ResourceCentre/PublicationsandResources/Physical%20activity/Participation_in_physical_activity_Research_summary.ashx Accessed 31 March 2014.
  2. National Public Health Partnership, 2005, Be active Australia: a framework for health sector action for physical activity. NPHP, Melbourne. http://www.nphp.gov.au/publications/documents/nphp_baa_aug_05_no_cover.pdf Accessed 31 March 2014.
  3. Cleland Verity J, Ball K, Magnussen C, Dwyer T and Venn A, 2009, ‘Socio-economic position and the tracking of physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness from childhood to adulthood’, American Journal of Epidemiology, 190.9, pp 1067-77. http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/170/9/1069.full.pdf  Accessed 31 March 2014

Stats & facts: sport and physical recreation participation by people with disability, by age, 2012

Introduction

Promoting the participation and inclusion of people with disability in social and community life is a guiding principle of the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and a cornerstone of Australia's National Disability Strategy 2010-2020, which states that 'people with disability (should) live in accessible and well-designed communities with opportunity for full inclusion in social, economic, sporting and cultural life' (Endnote 1). It has been shown that participation in sport and active recreation for people with disability provides many social and cultural benefits, and those who are engaged in social activities and citizenship are generally more connected to community and enjoy a better quality of life (Endnote 2).

A previous Perspectives in Sport fact sheet, published in December 2009, used data from the 2002 and 2006 ABS General Social Surveys (GSS) to examine participation in sport by people with disability. The standard disability module in the GSS is designed to obtain data on the broad characteristics of the disability population (and how they compare with those of the general population), rather than obtaining detailed disability data, as is collected by the ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC).

This fact sheet presents disability data from the 2012 SDAC, which was conducted throughout Australia from August 2012 to March 2013.

Apart from collecting information on the demographics, socio-economic status, health status, services used and the assistance required by those with disability, the survey sought information about respondents' involvement in a range of social, community and civic activities within and away from their home, including interaction with family and friends, attendance at cultural and sporting events and participation in physical activity for sport, exercise or recreation.

This fact sheet presents data on persons with disability who participated in physical activities for sport, exercise or recreation away from home, and for those who attended a sporting event as a spectator. Data is presented for persons aged 5-14 years, 15-64 years and 65 years and over. Future issues of Perspectives in Sport will present similar data from SDAC for primary carers and the aged.

Note that all data comparisons in this fact sheet should be considered statistically significantly different unless otherwise indicated.

Further information about SDAC is available from Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2012 (cat. no. 4430.0)

What is disability?

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) defines disability as an umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. In the SDAC, a person has a disability if they report they have a limitation, restriction or impairment which has lasted (or is likely to last) for at least six months and restricts everyday activities. This includes sensory disabilities (loss of sight, hearing or speech difficulties), intellectual disabilities (difficulty in learning or understanding), physical disabilities (breathing difficulties, chronic or recurrent pain, blackouts or seizures, incomplete use of arms/fingers/legs/feet, restrictions in physical activity, disfigurement or deformity), psychological disabilities (nervous or emotional conditions, mental illness) and head injury, stroke or brain damage.

  • In 2012 it was estimated that 4.2 million Australians, or 19% of the population, had a disability. After removing the effects of different age structures, the age standardised rate was 17% in 2012.
     

How is disability status measured?

To identify whether a person has a particular type of limitation or restriction, the SDAC collected information on the need for assistance, difficulty experienced, or use of aids or equipment to perform selected tasks. Broadly, disability status is divided into two main groups:

1. People with a specific limitation or restriction. This can be either or both:

Core activity limitation: this may involve activities of communication (understanding or being understood), mobility (getting into or out of a bed or chair, moving about home, walking 200 metres, using public transport) and self-care (showering or bathing, dressing, eating, toileting). These limitations can be classed as profound, severe, moderate or mild.

Schooling or employment restriction (e.g. unable to attend school, attending a special school, attending special classes at an ordinary school, permanently unable to work, restricted in the type or number of hours of work, needing ongoing assistance or supervision, requiring special equipment or modified work environment).

2. People without specific limitations or restrictions, but who may need assistance with health care (e.g. footcare, manipulating muscles or limbs, taking medicines), reading or writing, transport, household chores, property maintenance, meal preparation, and cognition or emotional issues (e.g. making friendships, coping with feelings or emotions, and decision making).

A more detailed list of activities and tasks used to define disability status in SDAC can be found in Appendix 1 of Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2012 (cat. no. 4430.0).

  • In 2012, around 3.7 million Australians (16% of the population) reported having a specific limitation or restriction. Of these, approximately 6% were aged 5-14 years, 52% aged 15-64 years and 41% aged 65 years and over.
  • Approximately 1.4 million people (6%) reported having a profound or severe core activity limitation. Of this group, around 10% were aged 5-14 years, 40% aged 15-64 years and 48% were aged 65 years and over.
  • Around 2 million people (9%) reported having a moderate or mild core activity limitation. Of these, around 3% were aged 5-14 years, 53% were aged 15-64 years and 45% were 65 years or older.
  • Approximately 1.7 million people (7%) reported having a schooling or employment restriction. Approximately 11% of this group were aged 5-14, whilst 89% were aged 15-64 years.
     

Participation in physical activities for sport

  • Around 59% of persons aged 5 to 14 years with a reported disability participated in a physical activity for sport in the last 12 months. This compared with around 20% of 15-64 year olds and 12% of people aged 65 years and older.
  • Among 5-14 year olds, those with moderate or mild core activity limitations were more likely to participate in sport than those with schooling or employment restrictions (69% compared with 60%). Compared with those with profound or severe core activity limitation, this group also had higher participation in sport (69% compared with 61%), although there is not enough evidence to suggest that this difference is statistically significant.
  • For 15-64 year olds, around 49% of those with mild or moderate core activity limitations participated in physical activity for sport in the previous 12 months, compared with 35% of those with a profound or severe core activity limitation and 15% of those with schooling or employment restrictions.
  • Persons aged 65 years and over with a moderate or mild core activity limitation were twice as likely to participate in physical activities for sport compared with those with a profound or severe core activity limitation (42% compared with 21%).
     
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a. includes those that do not have a specific restriction or limitation
b. may include persons who have both a core activity limitation and a schooling or employment restriction
Source(s): Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2012 (ABS cat. no. 4430.0)

Participation in physical activities for exercise or recreation

  • Overall, around 66% of persons aged 5 to 14 years with a reported disability participated in a physical activity for exercise or recreation in the last 12 months. This compared with around 50% of 15-64 year olds and 36% of people aged 65 years and older.
  • Among 5-14 year olds, those with moderate or mild core activity limitations were more likely to participate in physical activity for exercise or recreation than those with a profound or severe core activity limitation (67% compared with 53%). Around 65% of those with schooling or employment restrictions participated in physical activity for exercise or recreation in the previous 12 months.
  • The proportion of 15-64 year olds who participated in physical activity for exercise or recreation was relatively low for both those with mild or moderate (17%) and profound or severe (11%) core activity limitations. In comparison, 45% of those with schooling or employment restrictions participated in physical activities for exercise or recreation in the last 12 months.
  • Persons aged 65 years and over with a moderate or mild core activity limitation were three times more likely to participate in physical activities for exercise or recreation than those with a profound or severe core activity limitation (15% compared to 5%).
     
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a. includes those that do not have a specific restriction or limitation
b. may include persons who have both a core activity limitation and a schooling or employment restriction
Source(s):Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2012 (ABS cat. no. 4430.0)

Attendance at a sporting event as a spectator

  • Overall, approximately 38% of 5-14 year olds with a reported disability attended a sporting event as a spectator in the last 12 months. This compares with 32% of 15-64 year olds and 17% of persons aged 65 years or older.
  • Among 5-14 year olds, 42% of those with a moderate or mild core activity limitation attended a sporting event as a spectator, compared with 34% of those with a profound or severe core activity limitation, and 39% of those with a schooling or employment restriction. However, there is not enough evidence to suggest that these differences are statistically significant.
  • Persons aged 15-64 years with a moderate or mild core activity limitation were more likely to attend a sporting event as a spectator than those with a profound or severe core activity limitation, and those with a schooling or employment restriction (30%, compared with 22% and 27% respectively).
  • For people 65 years of age and over, those with a moderate or mild core activity limitation were twice as likely to attend a sporting event as a spectator than those with a profound or severe core activity limitation (19% compared with 9%).
     
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a. includes those that do not have a specific restriction or limitation
b. may include persons who have both a core activity limitation and a schooling or employment restriction
Source(s): Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings, 2012 (ABS cat. no. 4430.0)

Endnotes

  1. Council of Australian Governments 2011. National Disability Strategy 2010-2020. http://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/05_2012/national_disability_strategy_2010_2020.pdfAccessed 17 March 2014
  2. Australian Sports Commission 2011. Getting involved in sport. Participation and non-participation of people with disability in sport and active recreation. http://www.ausport.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/466870/Disability_Sport_Research_Report_FINAL.PDF Accessed 17 March 2014

Cumulative list of perspectives on sport articles

Abbreviations

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ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
ACTAustralian Capital Territory
Aust.Australia
GSSGeneral Social Survey
ICFInternational Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health
IRSADIndex of Relative Socio-economic Advantage and Disadvantage
MPHSMultipurpose Household Survey
NSWNew South Wales
NTNorthern Territory
QldQueensland
SASouth Australia
SDACSurvey of Disability, Ageing and Carers
Tas.Tasmania
Vic.Victoria
WAWestern Australia