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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1995  
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Contents >> Population >> Population Composition: Second generation Australians

Population Composition: Second generation Australians

The emphasis placed on maintaining cultural heritage varies widely between different groups of second generation Australians.

In 1991, 19% of Australians (3.1 million people) had been born in Australia and had at least one overseas born parent, i.e they were second generation Australians
1. A further 23% (3.8 million people) were overseas born or first generation Australians. All first generation Australians bring some of the culture of their homeland with them and contribute to the diverse and varied cultures which have been an integral part of Australia's development as a nation. In addition, they may transmit their cultural heritage to their children thus further enriching Australian society.

The variety and size of birthplace groups of second generation Australians reflect past migration and intermarriage patterns. In long established migration groups, such as those from the UK and Ireland and from northern and southern Europe, second generation Australians form more than half of their total birthplace group. In more recently arrived groups, such as those born in Viet Nam, second generation Australians form a smaller part of their birthplace group.

BIRTHPLACE GROUPS(a), 1991

Second generation Australians

Proportion of birthplace group
Total
Overseas born
Total in each birthplace group
Country
%
'000
'000
'000

UK
56.6
1,460.6
1,121.5
2,582.1
Italy
56.2
327.3
254.8
582.1
NZ
37.8
167.6
276.1
443.6
Greece
52.6
151.2
136.3
287.5
Netherlands
59.3
139.7
95.8
235.5
Germany
54.5
137.7
114.9
252.6
Yugoslavia
42.8
120.7
161.1
281.7
Ireland
64.5
95.2
52.4
147.6
Malta
58.7
76.5
53.8
130.3
Lebanon
49.4
67.5
69.0
136.5
Poland
43.6
53.3
68.9
122.2
USSR
49.0
42.5
44.2
86.8
India
37.4
36.8
61.6
98.4
USA
38.8
32.0
50.6
82.6
China
26.7
28.7
78.8
107.5
Viet Nam
17.1
25.2
122.3
147.5
All overseas countries
45.5
3,139.3
3,756.5
6,895.8


(a) A birthplace group comprises all people in Australia who were born in a specific country, and those who were born in Australia and had one or both parents born in the specific country. If a person's parents were born in different overseas countries, they will be in two birthplace groups. Components may, therefore, not add to totals.

Source: Census of Population and Housing


Ethnicity

Ethnicity is a complex concept which encompasses elements of regional, cultural, lingual, religious and ancestral identity. The ABS collects data on birthplace, birthplace of parents, language used at home and religious affiliation.


The focus of this review is second generation Australians, i.e people born in Australia who have at least one overseas born parent. The emphasis is on their similarities to, and differences from, their parents. Second generation Australians have been classified to a birthplace group on the basis of the country of birth of their parent(s). This means that people whose parents were born in different overseas countries will be counted in two birthplace groups and their characteristics will be compared separately to those of both their mother's and father's birthplace groups.



Population structure

In 1947, less than 10% of the population were overseas born. This increased to 20% in 1976 and to 24% by 1991. Along with this increase in the overseas born population the second generation Australian population increased to 20% by 1976 and has remained relatively stable since.


Australia's immigration rate increased after World War II (see
Net overseas migration). Consequently the second generation population increased and therefore has a young age structure. In 1991, only 21% of second generation Australians were aged 45 or over.

Until the late 1940s, there was a deliberate policy to discourage settlers from countries whose culture was perceived as being too dissimilar to the Australian culture of the time (see
Australian Social Trends 1994, Birthplaces of Australia's settlers). This resulted in only 6% of second generation Australians with parents born in non-English speaking countries being aged 45 or over in 1991.

As the source countries of Australia's immigration have changed over time, so has the mix of the second generation population. Between 1976 and 1991 the number of second generation Australians with parents born in the UK or Ireland increased by 18% to 1.6 million. Over the same period, the most rapidly growing of all second generation populations was Yugoslavian, which grew by 68%.



AGE AND SEX STRUCTURE OF SECOND GENERATION AUSTRALIANS, 1991

Second generation Australians with parent(s) born in non-English speaking countries




Source: Census of Population and Housing

AGE AND SEX STRUCTURE OF SECOND GENERATION AUSTRALIANS, 1991
All second generation Australians



Source: Census of Population and Housing



Marriage

The proportions of first and second generation Australians who marry within their birthplace group vary, depending on the birthplace group. Much of this variation is due to cultural differences between groups but the age structure and relative size of the groups also play a part. For example, people with Greek or Lebanese backgrounds are more likely to marry within their birthplace groups than people with German or Dutch backgrounds.


In 1993, 73% of second generation Australian women with both parents born in Lebanon married within their birthplace group compared to 58% of such men. Similarly, Australian born women with both parents born in Greece, Italy, Malta, UK and Ireland, or the Netherlands were more likely to marry within their birthplace groups than Australian born men from these backgrounds.


In contrast, second generation Australian men with both parents born in China, the former USSR and Baltic States, Poland or Germany were more likely to marry within their birthplace group than second generation Australian women from these backgrounds.


A quarter of Australian born men and women with both parents born in the UK or Ireland married people within their birthplace group. This was four times the level expected for men, and three times for women, given the size and age structure of the birthplace group.

SECOND GENERATION AUSTRALIANS(a) MARRYING WITHIN THEIR BIRTHPLACE GROUP, 1993

Men
Women
Birthplace of both parents
%
%

Greece
61.6
63.7
Lebanon
58.5
73.3
Italy
48.3
53.8
China
47.8
36.7
Malta
29.9
33.3
UK & Ireland
23.6
25.4
The former USSR(b)
16.2
7.5
Poland
14.0
8.9
Netherlands
11.6
12.8
Germany
4.5
3.9


(a) People born in Australia with both parents born in the specified country.
(b) Includes the Baltic States.


Source: Marriage Registrations



Language

Second generation Australians with both parents born in non-English speaking countries are more likely to speak English at home the older they are. Up to the age of 20, over 70% of these people spoke a language other than English at home in 1991. This is partly because they are more likely to be living with their parents at this age than at older ages.


Over the age of 30, women were more likely to speak a language other than English at home than men. This reflects women's lower labour force participation and their greater likelihood of having a caring responsibility for ageing parents.


Second generation Australians were much more likely to speak their parents' language if both parents spoke the same language. Over 90% of second generation Australians with both parents born in Viet Nam, Lebanon or Greece spoke a language other than English at home. This proportion fell if only one parent was born in the country. In all birthplace groups, people were more likely to speak their mother's language than their father's.

SECOND GENERATION AUSTRALIANS(a) WHO SPOKE A LANGUAGE OTHER THAN ENGLISH AT HOME, 1991



(a) People born in Australia with both parents born in non-English speaking countries.


Source: Census of Population and Housing

SECOND GENERATION AUSTRALIANS WHO SPOKE A LANGUAGE OTHER THAN ENGLISH AT HOME, 1991

Parents born in selected country

Mother only
Father only
Both parents
Birthplace of parents
%
%
%

Viet Nam
75.5
64.8
96.0
Lebanon
65.9
48.1
90.4
Greece
61.0
47.2
90.3
Yugoslavia
31.3
22.6
80.4
China
46.6
37.0
78.0
Italy
29.4
21.5
67.6
Poland
20.2
11.5
42.9
USSR
16.2
12.2
36.2
Malta
8.4
6.6
35.8
India
4.8
4.6
26.9
Germany
10.5
6.1
26.5
Netherlands
3.5
2.1
10.6


Source: Census of Population and Housing


Religion

Religious affiliation is closely related to birthplace group. For second generation Australians the relationship is generally not as strong as it is for the first generation. However, first and second generations of the Greek, Irish, Italian, Lebanese and Netherlands birthplace groups have similar patterns of religious affiliations.


In Australia most Italian born are Catholic and most Greek born are Greek Orthodox. While this reflects the religious mix in the country of birth it also reflects migration patterns. For example, Catholics outnumber Hindus among the Indian born population in Australia. However, in 1981, the most recent data available, 83% of the population of India were Hindu, and only 2% were Christian
2.

59% of people in Australia born in China stated that they had no religion. Similar proportions were reported by people born in Hong Kong and Japan. This may be because they perceive their belief systems as philosophies rather than religions. People with both parents born in China were much more likely than the Chinese born to have a religion, especially a Christian religion. 44% of second generation Australians with Chinese parents were Christian, compared to 22% of Chinese born.

RELIGION OF BIRTHPLACE GROUPS, 1991

Religion
Overseas born
Second generation(a)
Country
%
%

ChinaNo religion
59.4
40.4
GermanyLutheran
30.6
27.3
Catholic
29.6
23.3
GreeceGreek Orthodox
93.5
92.1
IndiaCatholic
41.4
49.5
Hindu
18.7
15.7
IrelandCatholic
74.0
72.8
ItalyCatholic
93.1
92.2
LebanonCatholic
40.2
42.4
Islam
37.0
39.0
NetherlandsCatholic
35.2
37.4
PolandCatholic
75.8
69.7
UKAnglican
44.0
39.2
USSRCatholic
23.9
29.2
Lutheran
23.1
18.9
Viet NamBuddhist
38.3
28.1


(a) Both parents born in selected country.

Source: Census of Population and Housing



Industry concentration

Some second generation Australians are concentrated in particular industries. This is particularly so among those whose fathers were born in Italy or Greece. People with Italian born fathers made up 2% of the employed population in 1991, but 12% of people employed in the sugar cane industry. Similarly, people with Greek born fathers made up 1% of employed people but 3% of those in the take-away food industry. In contrast second generation Australians with fathers born in most other countries did not show such concentrations.


The Greek and Italian birthplace groups form a large minority in certain industries because of their tendency to work in family businesses and because of historical and cultural patterns. In 1991, 25% of people working in fruit and vegetable stores were from the Italian birthplace group and 9% of people working in fish shops, take-away foods and milk bars were from the Greek birthplace group. Both of these industries employed relatively high proportions of both the first and second generations. Both these industries included large numbers of family businesses.


In some industries the concentration was more marked among second generation Australians than among the overseas born. For example, women's hairdressing and beauty salons employed higher proportions of both Greek and Italian second generation Australians than of the Greek or Italian born. The sugar cane industry also employed more Italian second generation Australians (12%) than Italian born (6%), and pharmacies employed more Greek second generation Australians than Greek born.


In contrast, some industries have greater numbers of Greek and Italian born than second generation Greeks and Italians. For example, 17% of those employed in the concreting industry were Italian born compared to 7% of Italian second generation Australians. Similarly 6% of those employed in fish shops, take-away food or milk bars were Greek born compared to 3% Greek second generation Australians.

INDUSTRY(a) WITH HIGHEST CONCENTRATION OF SECOND GENERATION AUSTRALIANS, 1991

Birthplace of father
% of all employed
Most concentrated industry
% of industry
%
%

Italy
2.1
Sugar cane
12.0
UK
4.9
Defence
6.8
Greece
0.9
Take-away food(b)
3.0
Netherlands
0.7
Police
1.1
Yugoslavia
0.5
Department stores
1.1
Germany
0.5
Defence
0.9
New Zealand
0.3
Grocers(c)
0.4


(a) Industries employing over 500 second generation Australians from the selected birthplace group.
(b) Includes fish shops and milk bars.
(c) Includes confectioners and tobacconists.


Source: Census of Population and Housing

INDUSTRIES(a) WITH HIGHEST CONCENTRATIONS OF SECOND GENERATION AUSTRALIANS WITH GREEK OR ITALIAN BORN FATHERS, 1991

Italian

Second generation
Overseas born
Total
All people
Industry
%
%
%
'000

Sugar cane
12.0
5.5
17.6
9.0
Fruit, vegetable stores
11.6
13.3
25.0
15.3
Hairdressers, beauty salons, undefined(b)
8.8
4.5
13.3
17.5
Women's hairdressing, beauty salons
8.3
2.7
11.0
25.1
Concreting
7.3
17.0
24.3
14.7
All industries
2.1
1.6
3.8
7,109.3

Greek

Industry
Second generation
Overseas born
Total
All people
%
%
%
'000

Fish shop, take-away food, milk bars
3.0
6.1
9.2
99.4
Women hairdressing, beauty salons
2.5
0.7
3.1
25.1
Pharmacies
2.0
0.3
2.3
33.1
Women's, girlswear stores
1.8
1.4
3.2
35.1
Savings banks
1.8
0.6
2.3
38.1

All industries
0.9
0.9
1.8
7,109.3


(a) Industries employing over 500 second generation Australians from the selected birthplace group.
(b) Includes uni-sex hairdressers and beauty salons, and those where sex of clients was not specified.


Source: Census of Population and Housing



Educational attainment

In almost all birthplace groups, second generation Australians are better educated than the overseas born. However, educational attainment varies with age, the highest proportions of people with bachelor degrees or higher are among those aged 25-44. Because the age structures of the first and second generation differ, comparisons are best made using age standardised data.


In 1991, on a standardised basis, 21% of Australian born people with a Chinese born father had a bachelor or higher degree compared to 15% of the Chinese born. 10% of Australian born people with a Lebanese born father had a bachelor or higher degree compared to only 3% of the Lebanese born. The Indian born, however, were better educated than second generation Australians with Indian born fathers.


Generally, second generation Australians are not only better educated than the overseas born, but are also better educated than the rest of the population. This may reflect the emphasis the overseas born place on high levels of education for their children.

EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT, 1991

Proportion of population with bachelor degree or higher(a)

Birthplace group
Overseas born
Second generation(b)
%
%

China
15.5
20.9
Poland
13.5
17.8
India
28.3
13.5
New Zealand
8.6
13.0
Greece
4.7
12.6
Lebanon
2.9
10.4
Germany
9.0
10.3
Yugoslavia
3.3
9.2
Netherlands
7.6
8.8
UK
9.4
8.6
Italy
3.8
7.3
Malta
2.5
3.5


(a) Standardised to the age distribution of the total Australian population. Qualifications include those received overseas.
(b) Father born in selected country.


Source: Census of Population and Housing



Endnotes

1 In the 1991 Census, 370,000 people did not state their birthplace, and a further 160,000 Australian born people did not provide enough information about their parents' birthplaces to determine whether they were second generation. These people have been excluded from this review. In addition, not stated responses have been excluded from percentage calculations in all tables except that pertaining to religion.


2 Encyclopaedia Britannica (1994)
Book of the Year.


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