Immigration collapse is no ageing disaster

Suncorp Group chair Christine McLoughlin has called on the federal government to expedite the opening of Australia’s international border. She claims that businesses are suffering from the ban on international visitors, such as international students, migrant workers and tourists. She also claims that the economy will suffer from having a smaller, older population:

“We’ve got to get our international borders open,” Ms McLoughlin said, adding that continuing to close the borders would have a long-term impact on the population and economic growth.

“If we don’t get them open it will have mean lower population growth and a faster ageing of the population”…

“It’s having an impact on so many parts of our economy and people’s families”.

Let’s get a few things straight with respect to Christine McLoughlin’s claims about population ageing.

Post-war migration boom helped caused current ageing ‘problem’

A key driver of Australia’s current ‘baby boomer bulge’ and ageing population is the mass immigration program ran in the post-war period (i.e. 1950s and 1960s):

These migrants (which include my parents) have are now old. Thus, they have added to Australia’s current ageing ‘problem’.

It stands to reason, then, that importing migrants to solve the ageing issue is ‘can-kick economics’, since today’s migrants will inevitably grow old, thereby creating ageing problems in 40 year’s time. Some will also bring in older family members, thus exacerbating population ageing now.

Immigration has minimal long-term impact on ageing anyway

The ABS’ own demographic projections show that immigration is next to useless in ‘younging’ Australia’s population.

That is, if we apply a more realistic definition for the working aged population of 19 to 70 (given more kids are staying in school and older Australians are working longer), then running annual net overseas migration (NOM) of 200,000 to 280,000 delivers only 3% more working-aged Australians by 2101 than zero NOM:

This tiny ‘benefit’ will only be transitory and comes at the expense of adding 150% to 200% more people to Australia’s population versus zero NOM:

Such a massive increase in population will obviously take a massive toll on Australia’s natural environment and general liveability.

Better to lift labour force participation to ‘solve’ ageing

Like all immigration boosters, Christine McLoughlin has conveniently ignored the increasing labour force participation by older Australians:

Since the mid-2000s, the labour force participation rate of over-65s has more than doubled. There is obviously additional scope to further increase participation given older Australians are remaining healthier for longer, as well as the legislated lift in Australia’s pension eligibility age to 67 by 2023.

Better utilising Australia’s existing workforce is far superior to importing swathes of migrant workers to ‘solve’ the ageing issue.

What about the costs of big migration?

Christine McLoughlin has also conveniently ignored the costs of big migration.

The 17.5 million extra people that were projected by the ABS to arrive in Australia over the 48 years to 2066 were driven entirely by NOM – directly as they arrive by plane and indirectly as migrants have children:

These additional 17.5 million people will obviously require huge sums of public spending on economic and social infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, roads, public transport, aged care, etc.

These costs can obviously be avoided by not running a mass immigration program in the first place.


A bigger population enriches some segments like bankers and the property industry disproportionately, However, it comes with significant, but largely hidden public costs, such as congestion of public infrastructure and facilities paid for by existing residents.

That is, the benefits of immigration are generally privatised and the costs socialised.

Indeed, Australia’s mass immigration program lost public support because it was so badly managed in 15 years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. DingwallMEMBER

    The Government and the parasitic lobby groups have just not cared about anything else for the last 15-20 years. Australia is all about real estate. Sickening….

  2. Only a problem if you are a rent seeker, their squeals of “We need fresh migrants” is so tedious, it’s the once off sugar hit they get from selling them a house or a car, then they just lose their value after that. But these fools keep up the noise to repeat while the rest of us, get stuff wage rises and traffic congestion from all the Ubers on the road, trying to make these skilled migrants a bit more cash whilst they wait for that well paying job.

  3. It’s really about a simple messaging isn’t it.
    Use Oil of Ulan to reverse the ageing process. Say goodbye to those fine lines and wrinkles.
    Use immigration to halt the population ageing process. Say goodbye to those demographic worries with one simple application.

    • darklydrawlMEMBER

      Yep, and those young folks are going to be old folks in 30-40 years too…..

  4. The Katharine Betts report (TAPRI, March 2020) is the best recent demolition of the Abul Rizvi “ageing Australia” fraud.

    Even though Big Australia is electoral cyanide for Labor, there’s uber-globalist Kevin Rudd (SMH, 27 February) asserting that it aligns comfortably with UN “sustainable development” and UN “net zero”. With friends like that…

    • Charles MartinMEMBER

      Is Kevin one of them “elites” I keep hearing about?
      Went to see extended family yesterday afternoon. Driving from the Cross Roads (didn’t stop) to Narellan on Camden Valley way was a real eye opener. What I remember being fields as a child around my grand fathers farm full of strawberry orchards was just grey roof tops, about 5 Maccas outlets and Bottle Shops and so many signs advertising “luxury” house and land packages or just land the size of postage stamps for around 650-700k. It was 30 degrees, but it looked hotter over where the roof tops sprawled out to the horizon.

      I struggle to think what Australia will be like with 50 million bodies in it but if it’s in line with UN sustainable development and net zero then it’s all good. I’ll go back to watching MAFS.

  5. – Quote:
    “Better utilising Australia’s existing workforce is far superior to importing swathes of migrant workers to ‘solve’ the ageing issue.”

    Sheer nonsense. This notion is the usual Austrian school nonsense. This is the usual “Higher Productivity is good” myth. Higher productivity actually makes the ageing problem worse and weakens the (for that matter: ANY) economy.
    E.g. more (traffic) congestion the stronger the economy will be getting stronger (think: more demand).

    – Loughlin is RIGHT. Australia (and its economy) does suffer under an ageing population.
    – But Loughlin also falls for the “Immigration is good for the property sector” myth. Immigration – in its current shape – is actually a force pushing property prices LOWER.

    • Minimum wage labourMEMBER

      There’s no shortage of labour , with 7 % unemployment and 15 % underemployment.
      There’s a shortage of exploitable labour able to work at 9$ an hour like students or fruitpickers, working for nothing with the promise of PR. Pay the minimum wage and you’ll get lots of applicants.
      Still thats no new Bank accounts being opened.

  6. “…
    Indeed, Australia’s mass immigration program lost public support…”

    Silly proposition.
    _everyone_ knows houses will eventually tank if supply of next greater fools slows down, let alone stops. Current surge is OO’s and kitchen sink thrown in – has its fizz-out date.
    This is a topic similar to Trump support: no one will admit it but Trump still won 2 elections.