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4613.0 - Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends, Jan 2010  
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Contents >> Population and urban >> Population

This document was added 02/05/2010.



POPULATION

POPULATION GROWTH

Graph: Population growth
Note: Population estimates are at 31 December each year. Estimates for 2007 and 2008 are preliminary.
1788 to 2005 estimates are from ABS cat. no. 3105.0.65.001 and 2006 to 2008 estimates are from ABS cat. no. 3101.0 (see sources below).
Source: ABS, 2008, Australian Historical Population Statistics 2008 (cat. no. 3105.0.65.001);
ABS, 2009, Australian Demographic Statistics June 2009 (cat. no. 3101.0).


Australia’s preliminary estimated resident population was 21.9 million at June 2009. The graph above shows Australia's population growth since European settlement in 1788. Since Federation in 1901, Australia's population has increased by 18.1 million people.

The growth of Australia's population has two components: natural increase (the number of births minus the number of deaths) and net overseas migration.

COMPONENTS OF POPULATION CHANGE

Graph: Components of population change
(a) As a proportion of total population growth.
Note: Year refers to financial year, e.g. 1990 refers to 1989–90 financial year.
Estimates for 2007–08 are preliminary. Estimates for net overseas migration contain a break in time series from 2006–07.
Source: ABS, 2009, Migration, Australia 2007–08 (cat. no. 3412.0).


In 2007–08, 59% of Australia’s population growth was due to net overseas migration. This percentage decreased slightly from 62% in 2006–07 but increased from 50% in 1989–90. By contrast, the proportion of population growth due to natural increase decreased to 41% in 2007–08.

Low fertility rates have contributed to Australia’s relatively low rate of natural increase. Between 1961 and 2001, Australia’s total fertility rate (TFR) declined from 3.55 babies per woman to 1.73 (Endnote 1). Since then the fertility rate has trended upwards to 1.98 babies per woman in 2008–09. This TFR is still below the replacement level of 2.1 babies per woman.

POPULATION DENSITY BY STATISTICAL LOCAL AREA

Map: Population density by statistical local area
Source: ABS, 2009, Regional Population Growth, Australia 2007–08 (cat. no. 3218.0).


Population density varies greatly across Australia. Australia's total population density at June 2008 was 2.8 people per square kilometre. Among the states and territories, the Australian Capital Territory had the highest population density at 147 people per square kilometre and the Northern Territory had the lowest population density at just 0.2 people per square kilometre.

At 30 June 2008, population density was highest in the capital cities of Australia’s states and territories. With the exception of Canberra, all these capital cities are located on the coast.

Population density in other coastal and surrounding areas was also relatively high, particularly in the southeast corner of the country. On the other hand, most of central and western Australia had a population density of less than one person/km2.

Five of the top ten most densely-populated statistical local areas (SLAs) were located in Sydney, which is currently the most populous city in Australia. At 30 June 2008, the Sydney statistical division had a population of 4.4 million people.
POPULATION AGE AND SEX STRUCTURE


The age structure of Australia’s population has changed significantly over the past 23 years.

The graph above shows the proportions of the population by age and sex at 30 June 1986 and 30 June 2009, illustrating the ageing of Australia’s population. There were proportionally fewer people aged between 0 and 39 in 2009 than in 1986, and a proportionally greater number of people aged 40 and over in 2009.

Between 30 June 1986 and 30 June 2009, the proportion of the population aged 0–14 years decreased from 23% to 19%. During the same period, the proportion of the population aged 15–64 years increased from 66% to 68%, and the proportion aged 65 or over increased from 11% to 13%.

SELECTED POPULATION INDICATORS, 2008

State/Territory
Population
(no.) (a)
Population growth 2007-2008 (b) (%)
Population in
capital city (no.)
Proportion of
population in
capital city (%)
Total capital city population density (persons/km2)
Highest SLA
population density
(no./km2) (d)

NSW
6 984 172
1.1
4 399 722
63.0
362.5
8 395.4
Vic.
5 313 823
1.8
3 892 419
73.3
505.9
7 284.9
Qld
4 293 915
2.3
1 945 639
45.3
327.0
5 736.9
WA
2 171 197
2.8
1 602 559
73.8
297.5
2 594.7
SA
1 603 361
1.1
1 172 105
73.1
641.6
2 867.1
Tas.
497 529
0.9
209 287
42.1
154.2
840.7
ACT
345 551
1.3
345 257
99.9
427.4
3 055.9
NT
219 818
2.3
120 652
54.9
38.6
2 651.4
Australia (c)
21 431 781
1.7
13 687 640
63.9
357.5
8 395.4

(a) 30 June 2008 population estimates are preliminary.
(b) Population growth between June 2007 and June 2008.
(c) Includes other territories.
(d) SLA = Statistical local area.
Source: ABS, 2009, Regional Population Growth, Australia 2007-08 (cat. no. 3218.0).


The major cities of Australia were home to 14.7 million people or more than two-thirds (69%) of Australia’s population at 30 June 2008. Of those, 13.7 million lived in the capital city of their state or territory. In contrast, just 491,560 people, or 2% of the total population, lived in remote or very remote areas of Australia. The remaining 29% lived in regional areas (see ABS, 2009, Australian Standard Geographical Classification July 2009 (cat. no. 1216.0) for an explanation of the remoteness structure classification).

Queensland recorded the largest population increase of the states and territories between 2007 and 2008, growing by 98,000 people. Western Australia had the highest percentage growth for the year, at 2.8%. Of the 25 local government areas (LGAs) with the greatest population increases between 30 June 2007 and 30 June 2008, eight were in Queensland, seven in Victoria, six in Western Australia and four in New South Wales. The LGA with the highest growth in Australia was Brisbane, with 17,000 new residents, followed by the Gold Coast, with an increase of 13,000 people.

While Sydney was the most populous city in Australia in 2008, its large size (12,137.5 km2) meant it was not the city with the highest overall population density. Adelaide (1,826.9 km2) had a higher total density than Sydney, with 641.6 people per km2 compared to 362.5 people/km2. However, Sydney was home to the area with the highest population density in the country in 2008. The Sydney East statistical local area had a density of 8,395.4 persons/km2.

The high concentration of people in coastal areas of south-eastern Australia has resulted in high rates of land clearing for urban development. This has caused loss of habitat for native plants and animals, reducing their numbers and geographical spread. Urban developments also need landfill sites and water and sewerage services, all of which can affect the environment.
POPULATION PROJECTIONS, AUSTRALIA
Graph: Population projections, Australia
Source: ABS, 2009, Population Projections, Australia, 2006 to 2101 (cat. no. 3222.0).


Australia’s population increased by approximately 17 million people in the 100 years between 1907 and 2007 (Endnote 2). Projections based on the estimated resident population at 30 June 2007 indicate that Australia’s population will increase by anywhere between 9 and 19 million between 2007 and 2051, to reach between 30 and 40 million by June 2051.

The ABS’ three categories of population projections are referred to as Series A, B and C. In Series B, which assumes medium levels of fertility, mortality and overseas migration, 92% of Australia’s population growth between 2007 and 2051 is projected to come from Australia’s four most populous states (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia).

POPULATION PROJECTIONS, LARGEST STATES
Graph: Population projections, largest states
Source: ABS, 2009, Population Projections, Australia, 2006 to 2101 (cat. no. 3222.0).


Queensland’s population is projected to grow the most between 2007 and 2051. Series B figures project a near doubling of the state’s population (from 4.2 to 8.3 million) over the 44-year period. New South Wales is projected to remain Australia’s most highly populated state, with a Series B projected growth of three million people (to bring the state’s population to 9.9 million in 2051).

POPULATION PROJECTIONS, TERRITORIES AND SMALLER STATES
Graph: Population projections, territories and smaller states
Source: ABS, 2009, Population Projections, Australia, 2006 to 2101 (cat. no. 3222.0).


Of the territories and less populated states, South Australia is projected to grow by the greatest number (580,000 persons) between 2007 and 2051 (Series B). The Series B growth projection for the Northern Territory is 170,000 persons, a 77% increase on its 2007 population.
HOUSEHOLD AND DWELLING CHARACTERISTICS, 2007-08

One bedroom
Two bedrooms
Three bedrooms
Four or more bedrooms
Total households (a)
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
% of total

One person
267.3
721.0
803.1
197.0
2 004.1
24.8
Two persons
58.3
619.7
1 432.7
625.2
2 735.9
33.9
Three persons
n.p.
174.0
681.1
456.7
1 314.9
16.3
Four persons
n.p.
76.3
592.3
587.9
1 258.3
15.6
Five or more persons
n.p.
18.2 (b)
230.4
514.2
764.1
9.5
Total households
331.3
1 609.2
3 739.6
2 381.0
8 077.3
100

(a) Includes bedsitters and dwellings with zero bedrooms.
(b) Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.
Note: n.p. = not published, due to estimates having a relative standard error of over 50%.
Source: ABS, data available on request (Survey of Income and Housing, 2007-08).


Environmental impacts result from the construction and renovation of dwellings, and the use of energy to heat and/or cool them. In general, a larger dwelling will consume more energy than a smaller one.

The physical size of Australian houses or apartments (dwellings) is increasing (as indicated by the number of bedrooms). Between 1975–76 and 2007–08, the average dwelling size increased from 2.8 to 3.1 bedrooms per dwelling. In 2007–08, 29% of Australia’s total dwellings had four or more bedrooms. This percentage has increased substantially from 17% in 1976 (Endnote 3).

AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD SIZE
Graph: Average household size
Note: Year refers to financial year, e.g. 1995 refers to 1994–95 financial year.
Survey not run in 1998–99, 2001–02, 2004–05 or 2006–07. Values have been interpolated for these years.
Source: ABS, 2009, Housing Occupancy and Costs 2007–08 (cat. no. 4130.0).


Despite the fact that sizes of physical dwellings have increased, household sizes (i.e. the number of people living in a dwelling) have decreased over the past 13 years. Average household size fell from 2.69 people in 1994–1995 to 2.56 in 2007–08.

Much of this decline can be attributed to reductions in family size and the increase in numbers of one and two-person households (which together made up 59% of households in 2007–08). Between 1986 and 2006, the proportion of the population living alone grew from 9% to 12%. This increase has been attributed to delayed partnering, divorce and separation, a decrease in fertility rates and a decline in extended families (Endnote 4).

More than four in five (86%) people who lived alone in 2007–08 lived in dwellings with two or more bedrooms. Three quarters (75%) of dwellings housing two people had three or more bedrooms.


ENDNOTES

1. ABS, 2007, Australian Social Trends 2007 (cat. no. 4102.0).
2. ABS, 2008, Australian Historical Population Statistics 2008 (cat. no. 3105.0.65.001).
3. ABS, 2008, Year Book Australia 2008 (cat. no. 1301.0).
4. ABS, 2009, Australian Social Trends December 2009 (cat. no. 4102.0).

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