Charting Australia’s population growth

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) yesterday released the Australian Demographic Statistics for the June Quarter 2011. Below are a series of charts summarising the key trends relating to Australia’s population growth.

First, a chart showing net overseas migration (NOM), which measures in/out migration of anyone residing/leaving Australia for a period of 12 months or more (rather than permanently). As you can see, NOM is still above long-term trends, but has declined sharply from the peak level seen in the year to September 2008, from around 315,000 to 170,000 annually:

The fall in NOM is due, primarily, to a reduction of overseas arrivals to Australia.

With the decline in NOM, Australia’s population growth has also fallen significantly, from a peak of just under 470,000 in the year to September 2008 to just over 320,000. The share of population growth coming from immigration has also fallen over the same period from a peak of 67% to 53%:

Finally, in percentage terms, it appears that Australia’s population growth and immigration are returning to average levels after surging in the 3 years to 2008:

At the state level, it’s all about mining. Western Australia is leading the way, experiencing 2.4% population growth in the year to June 2011. This is followed by Queensland (1.7%) and Victoria (1.5%), which are just above the national average (1.4%), with New South Wales (1.1%) and South Australia (0.8%) bringing up the rear:

So there you have it – four charts summarising Australia’s population growth.

My guess is that Australian immigration levels, and by extension population growth, will remain at or above average levels as long as the mining boom is in play.

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  1. According to the CIA that drop from a peak over 2% to the present 1.4% will have caused us to drop in the breeding league tables from the top 50 to barely in the top 100

    Considering the dysfunctional nature of the housing sector and the apparent limited ability of the Fed Govt to get the States to do anything, one wonders about the thinking behind the intake each year.

    It is fortunate that the miners are happy in an air conditioned donga!

    • About the only 2 reasons I can see behind high population growth rate is that it:
      1. triggers more GST events for govt,
      2. adds foreign capital to the economy (feeds inflation of RE)
      The downsize is that the govt should be matching infrastructure/services with pop growth.
      Successive govts have managed to not achieve this by cutting taxes.
      Nordic countries have pop growth that is 1/7th of Aus and Germany even has a decreasing population.
      Difference is maybe those countries have policy makers with the ability to run a profitable economy not based on dumb brute force growth alone.

  2. These charts must be wrong. Everyone knows that we have perpetually strong population growth in Australia which has resulted in a perpetual undersupply of houseing.

    I’m going to ignore the facts and go buy three more investment properties at 97% LVR.

    Come on guys, join in. My local real estate agent told me that it’s a great time to buy!

  3. Interesting the higher levels in mining states. But are they working in mines living in some more isolated community out where it is a bit hot and tough? Or are they just parked in the cities opening restatants and coffee chops?

    On other words is immigrati8on really adding to REAL growth or is it just adding to debt-based growth?

    A bit more serious study of what is actually happening with immigration would be enlightening.

    • Diogenes the CynicMEMBER

      Flawse I think the measurement GDP per capita is pretty stagnant or falling. Of course no one uses this…whether due to inertia or perhaps because it shows that immigration per se does not automatically make our magic pudding grow.

        • Yes but while those policy failures persist population growth should reflect that failure.

          Perhaps if the growth merchants were denied their population ‘engine’ they might direct their attention to the policy failures (eg housing) with a bit more intent.

          The difficulty is that any criticism of population growth is almost instantly characterised as some combination of a return to white australia or nutty deep green earth loving/people hating.

          Not to mention the concept that without population growth we will be mugged by hundreds of grey beard boomers looking for a dime for a latte. (I think that will happen regardless)

          • Unfortunately, any public discussion of migration policy does tend to bring the bigots and extreme greens out of the woodwork, which does tend to make it difficult to have the discussion – and of course providing the big Australia lobby an easy way to shut the discussion down.

            To me it feels like we’ve been doing immigration on the cheap over the past decade, overloading existing services and facilities rather than providing adequately for the rising population. It might make some of the big headline numbers look good, but if it results in a stagnation or decline in some aspects of our living standards I’d argue for a reduction in the intake.

  4. Interesting to me is the gradual but persistent uptrend since Dec 93 – I’d be surprised to this trend anywhere else in the developed world barring the US, at least based on my understanding of the current demographic trends.

  5. Lies damned lies and statistics.

    What no one mentions or realises is that the Net Overseas Migration statistics definition of “migrant” changed in 2006 and includes returning Australian residents and citizens, plus those here on temporary visas for over 12/16 months (or thereabouts).

    Accordingly any increase in temporary fee paying international students in course of more than one year become “migrants” and hence take off in 2006 and later…..