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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1997  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/06/1997   
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Contents >> Population >> Population Growth: International population comparison

Population Growth: International population comparison

In 1994, Australia's share of the world's population was 0.3%. In comparison, the United Kingdom had about 1%, the United States of America about 5% and China 21%.


Growth and migration

Average annual growth rate is the annual rate of population growth averaged over a given period.

Net overseas migration consists of permanent and long-term arrivals (immigration) less permanent and long-term departures (emigration).

Selected countries
The countries selected for this review include: other countries in our region; major trading partners; countries with historical and/or migratory ties to Australia; countries of a similar size and economic development; and countries who have an impact on trends in Australia due to their population size and/or economic power. The countries selected in this review represent only a sample of the countries that could be identified from these criteria. Two countries from Africa have also been included with the less developed countries for further points of comparison. Taken together African countries have population growth rates higher than that observed in other regions of the world.


Australia's population size is small in world terms. In 1994, Australia's share of the world population was 0.3%. In comparison, the United Kingdom had about 1%, the United States of America about 5% and China 21%. This review compares population growth rates in Australia with those in other countries of the world.

Population growth in different countries has been shaped by their patterns of fertility, mortality and migration. These in turn reflect the wealth of their countries' natural resources, their wars and famines, and most importantly, their patterns of social and economic development.

In general, countries from more developed regions have lower birth and death rates than those from less developed regions. As a consequence, countries from more developed regions have a lower proportion of young people, and a higher proportion of older people, compared to countries from less developed regions. This in turn affects their future prospects for growth, because their populations contain a relatively low proportion of women of child-bearing age. On the other hand, the higher level of fertility and more youthful age structure of countries from less developed regions, ensures that an increasing share of the world's population will be located in the less developed regions of the world.

ESTIMATED POPULATION, SELECTED COUNTRIES

Selected countries
June 1990
June 1994
Annual average growth rate 1990-94
millions
millions
%

Countries from more developed regions
    Australia
17.1
17.8
1.1
    Canada
26.6
29.2
2.4
    France
56.7
57.7
0.4
    Greece
10.2
10.4
0.6
    Italy
57.7
57.2
-0.2
    Japan
123.5
125.0
0.3
    New Zealand
3.4
3.5
1.0
    Sweden
8.6
8.8
0.6
    United Kingdom
57.6
58.1
0.2
    United States of America
249.9
260.7
1.1
Countries from less developed regions
    China
1,155.3
1,208.8
1.1
    Indonesia
179.8
192.2
1.7
    Hong Kong
5.7
6.1
1.5
    Korea,Republic of
42.9
44.5
0.9
    Malaysia
17.8
19.5
2.3
    Papua New Guinea
3.7
4.0
1.9
    Singapore
2.7
2.9
2.0
    Uganda
17.9
20.6
3.5
    Viet Nam
66.2
72.5
2.3
    Zimbabwe
9.4
11.2
4.4
World total
5,285.0
5,630.0
1.6

Source: United Nations, Demographic Yearbook 1994.


Recent growth
In the period 1990-94, Australia's average annual rate of population growth, at 1.1%, was lower than the world population growth rate of 1.6%. However, Australia along with Canada (2.4%), the United States of America (1.1%) and New Zealand (1.0%), experienced high growth, relative to other countries from more developed regions. For example, the population of the United Kingdom grew at an average annual rate of 0.2%, Japan's population remained fairly steady, and Italy's population declined by an average of 0.2% a year. The higher population growth in Australia, Canada, and the United States of America is due to their younger age structure and high levels of immigration.

Countries categorised by the United Nations as being from less developed regions experienced a higher average annual rate of population growth. Most of Australia's neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia and Oceania fall into this category. Australia's rate of growth was considerably lower than that of Malaysia (2.3%), Viet Nam (2.3%), Indonesia (1.7%) and Papua New Guinea (1.9%).

Age structures
The age structure of a country, like its population, is dependent upon past fertility, mortality and migration patterns. Because these components vary considerably from country to country, the age structure also differs between countries.

The median age of Australia's population in 1995, at 34 years, was similar to that of the United States of America, Canada, and Hong Kong. New Zealand and Singapore had slightly younger populations, while the United Kingdom and France had slightly older populations.

In 1995, the populations of Australia's immediate neighbours to the north, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, had much younger age profiles than that of Australia, as a consequence of higher birth rates and higher death rates. In Indonesia, 33% of the population were aged 0-14 years, and only 4% were aged 65 and over, while in Papua New Guinea the proportions were 40% and 3% respectively.

MEDIAN AGE, SELECTED COUNTRIES, 1995


Source: United Nations, World Population Prospects: The 1994 Revision.


Future growth
World population growth is projected to fall to an average of 1.5% a year between 1995 and 2000. The decline is projected to continue beyond the year 2000, averaging 0.7% a year during the period 2020-50.

The population of the less developed regions is expected to increase by 90% between 1995 and 2050, while that of the more developed regions is expected to increase by only 4%. Between 2020 and 2050, the population of the less developed regions is projected to grow by an average of 0.9% each year, while the population of the more developed regions is projected to decline by 0.1% (on average each year).

Between 2020 and 2050, positive average annual growth rates have been projected for Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America and Canada. The projected growth in these countries relates to an expectation of continuing positive net overseas migration and the younger age of the current population in these countries. In contrast, the populations of Italy, Greece, and Japan are projected to decrease in size.

The populations of countries from the less developed regions are projected to continue increasing but with gradually declining average annual growth rates. Between 2000 and 2050, the population of Papua New Guinea is projected to double in size while those of Viet Nam, Malaysia and Indonesia are projected to increase by at least half. China's population is projected to reach 1.6 billion by 2050, but its share of the world population is projected to decrease to 16%.

POPULATION PROJECTIONS(a), SELECTED COUNTRIES

Population
Average annual growth rate


Selected countries
2000
2020
2050
1995-2000
2000-20
2020-50
millions
millions
millions
%
%
%

Countries from more developed regions
1,185.5
1,232.0
1,207.5
0.3
0.2
-0.1
    Australia
19.2
23.6
26.1
1.2
1.0
0.3
    Canada
31.0
36.9
39.9
1.0
0.9
0.3
    France
59.0
60.9
60.5
0.4
0.2
0.0
    Greece
10.6
10.1
8.6
0.2
-0.2
-0.5
    Italy
57.3
53.6
43.6
0.0
-0.3
-0.7
    Japan
126.5
124.0
110.0
0.2
-0.1
-0.4
    New Zealand
3.8
4.3
4.7
1.0
0.6
0.3
    Sweden
9.0
9.6
10.0
0.4
0.3
0.1
    United Kingdom
59.0
60.9
61.6
0.3
0.2
0.0
    United States of America
275.1
320.6
349.0
0.9
0.8
0.3
Countries from less developed regions
4,972.5
6,655.9
8,625.7
1.8
1.5
0.9
    China
1,284.6
1,488.1
1,606.0
1.0
0.7
0.3
    Hong Kong
6.0
6.0
4.9
0.3
0.0
-0.6
    Indonesia
212.7
264.1
318.8
1.5
1.1
0.6
    Korea, Republic of
47.1
53.3
56.5
0.9
0.6
0.2
    Malaysia
22.3
29.8
38.1
2.1
1.5
0.8
    Papua New Guinea
4.8
7.0
9.6
2.3
1.9
1.0
    Singapore
3.0
3.3
3.3
0.8
0.5
0.0
    Uganda
24.6
42.4
72.1
2.9
2.8
1.8
    Viet Nam
82.6
111.7
143.6
2.1
1.5
0.8
    Zimbabwe
12.5
18.3
26.6
2.1
1.9
1.3
World
6,158.1
7,887.9
9,833.2
1.5
1.2
0.7

(a) Medium-variant projection.

Source: United Nations, World Population Prospects: The 1994 Revision.


United Nations' classification of world development regions

For the purpose of analysis, the United Nations aggregates countries into two development groups: more developed regions; and less developed regions.

More developed regions comprise Northern America, Japan, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Less developed regions comprise all regions of Africa, Asia (excluding Japan), Latin America and the Caribbean, and Oceania (excluding Australia and New Zealand).


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