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3416.0 - Perspectives on Migrants, 2008  
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CENSUS 2006 - PEOPLE BORN IN CHINA AND INDIA

On this page:
Introduction
Net overseas migration
Year of arrival
Visa category
Income
Labour force
Age and sex
Age, sex and labour force participation
Education
English proficiency
English proficiency and labour force participation
List of references


INTRODUCTION

This article looks at the characteristics of migrants from two countries, China and India, which are major contributors to Australia's net migration (13.0% and 9.8% respectively) and have shown increasing rates of migration to Australia in recent years, particularly students. An analysis of 2006 Census data reveals significant differences between these groups particularly in terms of income. Contributing factors to these differences such as year of arrival, visa category, labour force status, education and English proficiency are examined in this article.

For the purposes of this article 'China' is defined as excluding the Taiwan Province and the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau. ABS and Department of Immigration and Citizenship data cited in this article use this definition, in accordance with the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), Second Edition (ABS cat. no. 1269.0).



NET OVERSEAS MIGRATION

Australia's net overseas migration (NOM) now comprises substantial numbers of people born in China and India. Preliminary ABS estimates in Migration, Australia, 2006-07 (cat. no. 3412.0) show that China (23,000), the United Kingdom (22,840), New Zealand (21,420), India (17,410) and Japan (9,100) were the five countries of birth that contributed most to Australia's population in the 2006-07 financial year (i.e. their NOM arrivals exceeded their NOM departures).

It is worth noting that in 2007 the ABS introduced improved methods for calculating net overseas migration (NOM). As a result, a break in time series exists from the 2006-07 financial year onwards. NOM is defined as the net gain or loss of population through immigration to Australia and emigration from Australia.

YEAR OF ARRIVAL

2006 Census of Population and Housing data show there were 206,588 people in Australia who were born in China, representing Australia's third largest overseas-born group. This compares with 147,106 people born in India, the sixth largest group. The graph below illustrates the pattern of arrivals. Both groups experienced relatively high levels of arrivals between 2000 and August 2006, with 39.0% (80,573) of people born in China and 44.9% (66,068) of those born in India arriving in this period.

YEAR OF ARRIVAL, People born in China and India
Graph: Year of Arrival, People born in China and India


VISA CATEGORY

Although the Census does not collect data on the visa category of respondents, statistical information is available from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). For example, DIAC's Settlement Reporting Facility enables customised reports to be produced online from their Settlement Database. This database gives the total number of settlers born in China as 101,204 in the ten years to August 2006. Of these, 61.3% arrived through the Skill stream, 36.8% under the Family stream and 1.0% as part of the Humanitarian Program. During this period 78,165 India-born settlers arrived, with the Skill stream accounting for 82.0%, 17.8% for the Family stream and 0.2% in the Humanitarian Program. (The Settlement Database is a dynamic database and counts may vary slightly over time due to processing arrangements within DIAC.)

In addition to settlement data, DIAC provides information on temporary entrants to Australia. Their Student visa statistics, for example, show the largest number of overseas students now come from China and India. In 2006-07, 38,466 student visas were granted to students from China and 34,146 for students from India. Between 2002-03 and 2006-07, total visas for students from India increased more than fourfold and visas for students from China increased by 70%. Further information is available in the article 'Overseas Students' in the ABS Perspectives on Migrants, 2007 series (cat. no. 3416.0).

INCOME

The 2006 Census asked people to report gross income from all sources (i.e. personal income before any tax, superannuation contributions, health insurance, amounts salary sacrificed or other automatic payments are deducted). The data show that in 2006 the median individual income of people born in China was $239 per week compared with $539 for people born in India and $484 for Australian-born people. Similarly, the median equivalised household income for people born in China was $431 per week, $721 for those born in India and $639 for Australian-born.

Equivalised household income is total household income adjusted using an equivalence scale. For a lone person household it is equal to household income. For a household comprising more than one person, it is an indicator of the household income that would need to be received by a lone person household to enjoy the same level of economic wellbeing as the household in question. For further information, see the Explanatory Notes of Household Income and Income Distribution, Australia (cat. no. 6523.0).

MEDIAN WEEKLY INCOMES, Household and individual, 2006
Graph: Median Weekly Incomes, Household and individual, 2006


Differences in income are due to a number of contributing factors including labour force participation, education and English proficiency. These are considered in the following sections.

LABOUR FORCE

2006 Census data show that the participation rate for people born in China, now resident in Australia, was 55.5% in August 2006 compared with 71.1% for those born in India and 66.0% for Australian-born people. A relatively small proportion (30.3%) of people born in China were in full-time work at this time while a relatively high proportion (43.1%) were not in the Australian labour force. Conversely, people born in India had a relatively high rate of full-time employment (44.7%).

LABOUR FORCE STATUS, 2006

Labour force status
China-born
India-born
Australian-born

Participation rate
55.5%
71.1%
66.0%
Proportion of the population group in full-time employment
30.3%
44.7%
39.8%
Unemployment rate
11.2%
7.2%
4.9%
Proportion of the population group who are not in the labour force
(i.e. neither employed or unemployed)
43.1%
27.2%
32.4%

Source: ABS 2006 Census data


With regard to industry of employment, Census data show that Accommodation and food services was the largest employing industry for China-born residents in 2006 (accounting for 17.6% of employed China-born persons). Accommodation and food services is a relatively lower paid industry - 72.1% of all Australian residents employed in this industry received a weekly income of less than $600. Manufacturing was the largest employing industry for India-born residents (with 11.7% of employed India-born persons), and was the second highest employing industry for China-born (13.0%).

INDUSTRY PROFILES (TOP 3 EMPLOYING INDUSTRIES), 2006

Top 3 employing industries
China-born
India-born
Australian-born

1
Accommodation & food services
(17.6%)
Manufacturing
(11.7%)
Retail trade
(12.0%)
2
Manufacturing
(13.0%)
Health care & social assistance
(11.5%)
Health care & social assistance
(10.1%)
3
Retail trade
(12.8%)
Professional, scientific & technical services
(10.2%)
Manufacturing
(9.6%)

Source: ABS 2006 Census data


Close to one-third of employed India-born persons (30.3%) reported their occupational group as Professionals in 2006. This compares with 21.8% for the China-born group. This is a relatively highly paid occupation group with one-third of all Professionals in Australia receiving an individual weekly income of $1,300 or more per week.

OCCUPATIONAL PROFILES, 2006

Individual weekly income
China-born
India-born
Australian-born
% earning less than $599
% earning $1 300 or more
% employed
% employed
% employed

Managers
23.1
35.1
12.0
10.6
13.4
Professionals
17.1
33.4
21.8
30.3
19.0
Technicians and Trades Workers
35.0
13.2
14.3
9.0
14.5
Community and Personal Service Workers
61.4
5.7
8.1
6.4
9.0
Clerical and Administrative Workers
39.0
7.9
10.1
16.9
15.4
Sales Workers
66.3
6.3
9.8
9.5
10.6
Machinery Operators And Drivers
33.7
11.5
6.6
6.7
6.4
Labourers
63.9
3.5
14.0
8.2
10.0

Source: ABS 2006 Census data


AGE AND SEX

Age and sex can have a bearing on workforce participation and income. Women, as well as those over 60 years or less than 20 years, are less likely to be in full-time employment. In 2006, the median age of people born in China who were living in Australia was 39 years compared to 35 years for India-born people and 32 years for those born in Australia. The ratio of males and females also varied, with females accounting for 54.8% of the China-born group, 44.8% of those born in India and 50.7% for Australian-born people (ABS 2006 Census data).

The age–sex population pyramid below provides more information about the differences between the three population groups. For people born in China and India, the pyramid is generally reflective of the relative recency of their arrival in Australia and the conditions that apply to entry under Australia's migration program, both of which have led to relatively high proportions in the working age groups. The Skilled stream selects persons up to 45 years of age while those entering on temporary student visas are predominately in the 20 to 29 year age range (see also the sections on 'Visa category' and 'Education'). For example, 60.4% of China-born males were aged 20 to 49 years compared with 65.8% of India-born males and 40.9% of Australian-born males. Their female counterparts comprised 64.0% for China-born, 59.7% for India-born and 40.8% for Australian-born.

AGE–SEX POPULATION PYRAMID, 2006
Graph: Age-Sex Population Pyramid, 2006
Source: ABS 2006 Census data


Age, sex and labour force participation

In 2006, the labour force participation rates for China-born males (61.9%) and females (50.2%) were substantially lower than their India-born (80.1% and 60.0%, respectively) and Australian-born counterparts (72.6% and 59.8%). The graphs below show particularly low participation rates for China-born males (56.0%) and females (55.6%) aged 20 to 29 years. This is likely to be partly due to their participation in full-time education.

LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATES, Males, Selected age groups, 2006
Graph: Labour Force Participation Rates, Males, Selected age groups, 2006

LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION RATES, Females, Selected age groups, 2006
Graph: Labour Force Participation Rates, Females, Selected age groups, 2006


EDUCATION

Participation in education is another factor which affects employment and income. Full-time study impacts workforce participation and Census data show that a higher proportion (27.3%) of people born in China were studying full-time in 2006 than those born in India (19.7%) or Australia (23.3%). Of those aged 20 to 29 years, 62.1% of the China-born group were in full-time education compared with 36.0% and 12.2% for their India-born and Australian-born counterparts.

It is worth noting that the method of entry to Australia may also affect entitlements to work in Australia. For example, people who arrive in Australia on a temporary student visa, who are granted permission to work, are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during the academic term (and unlimited hours when their course is not in session). For more information see the Overseas Students article in the ABS Perspectives on Migrants, 2007 series (cat. no. 3416.0). As mentioned in the section on 'Visa category', students from China made up the largest proportion of overseas students in 2006-07 and, as such, were subject to full-time work restrictions. In 2006, the labour force participation rate of full-time students from China was 35.6% compared with 60.2% for their India-born counterparts (and 48.3% for Australian-born).

With regard to educational attainment, when persons aged 15 years or more were asked "What is the highest year of primary or secondary school the person has completed?" in the 2006 Census, 3.9% of China-born respondents recorded "Did not go to school" compared with 0.6% of those born in India and 0.3% of people born in Australia. However, people born in China and India generally have higher Year 12 school completion rates (72.8% and 80.1% respectively) than the Australian-born (41.3%). Rates of Bachelor Degree and Postgraduate Degree qualifications are also substantially higher for the overseas-born groups. Almost 40% of people born in India (39.7%) and China (37.4%) have a Bachelor Degree compared with 23.0% of the Australian-born, while Postgraduate Degree rates are 26.7%, 18.6%, and 4.0% respectively. This contrasts with Certificate level qualifications where 38.7% of those born in Australia have attained Certificates compared with 8.8% of China-born and 9.6% of India-born people.

Considering educational fields, a greater proportion of people born in China and India have attained qualifications in Information Technology and Management and Commerce than Australian-born people.

STUDENT STATUS AND EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT, 2006

China-born
India-born
Australian-born
%
%
%

Student status
Proportion studying full-time
27.3
19.7
23.3
Proportion studying part-time
4.8
4.1
4.9
Educational attainment
Highest year of school completed
Year 12 or equivalent
72.8
80.1
41.3
Year 11 or equivalent
3.9
4.2
11.6
Year 10 or equivalent
6.4
7.4
27.0
Year 9 or equivalent
2.7
1.2
8.4
Year 8 or below
5.4
1.7
6.8
Did not go to school
3.9
0.6
0.3
Level of highest non-school qualification
Postgraduate Degree Level
18.6
26.7
4.0
Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate Level
2.0
2.6
3.3
Bachelor Degree Level
37.4
39.7
23.0
Advanced Diploma and Diploma Level
18.7
10.1
14.7
Certificate Level
8.8
9.6
38.7
Field of highest non-school qualification
Natural and Physical Sciences
5.1
6.6
2.6
Information Technology
8.9
13.3
2.2
Engineering and Related Technologies
14.2
18.2
17.6
Architecture and Building
1.6
1.0
6.4
Agriculture, Environmental and Related Studies
0.6
0.7
2.7
Health
7.4
8.1
9.4
Education
4.9
5.8
9.1
Management and Commerce
30.0
23.7
17.5
Society and Culture
8.5
8.8
9.9
Creative Arts
2.6
1.4
3.4
Food, Hospitality and Personal Services
2.5
2.4
5.6

Source: ABS 2006 Census data


ENGLISH PROFICIENCY

English proficiency can impact on labour force participation and income and differs greatly for the two overseas-born groups, partly because Australia's migration program has taken a greater share of India-born settlers under the Skill stream visa category. During the ten years to August 2006, 82.0% of India-born settlers arrived through the Skill stream compared with 61.3% of China-born settlers. These migrants must satisfy a points test, have particular work skills, meet English language requirements, have other links to Australia or be nominated by particular employers, have successful business skills and/or significant capital to establish a business of benefit to Australia.

In the 2006 Census, most people born in India (93.5%) responded that they spoke English well or very well, compared with 64.2% for people born in China. Around one-third (34.5%) of people born in China answered that they do not speak English well or do not speak English at all. This is reflected in Census information on languages spoken at home, with English being the language most often spoken by India-born people at home (34.4%), followed by Hindi (19.9%) and Punjabi (10.3%). The top three languages spoken at home for people born in China are Mandarin (59.4%), Cantonese (29.3%) and English (3.8%).

English proficiency and labour force participation

With regard to English proficiency and participation in the Australian labour force, 2006 Census data show lower participation rates for those born in China and India who are not proficient in spoken English.

ENGLISH PROFICIENCY AND LABOUR FORCE PARTICIPATION, 2006

Participation rate (%)
Unemployment rate (%)
China-born
India-born
China-born
India-born

Proficient in spoken English
64.6
78.0
11.1
8.2
Not proficient in spoken English
39.8
25.6
12.0
15.3

Source: ABS 2006 Census data


Overall, a relatively high proportion (43.1% or 85,935) of people born in China were not in the labour force in 2006. Almost half (47.0%) of this group had difficulties with spoken English, while the majority (61.6% or 52,921) of those not in the labour force were female.

Further analysis of females born in China who were not in the labour force shows that although most were aged 20-29 years, this age group were generally proficient in spoken English. The older age groups, however, those aged over 40 years generally reported English language difficulties.

FEMALES NOT IN THE LABOUR FORCE, China-born by age and English proficiency, 2006
Graph: Females Not in the Labour Force, China-born by age and English proficiency, 2006

LIST OF REFERENCES

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2008, Migration, Australia, 2006-07, cat. no. 3412.0, ABS, Canberra.

ABS 2008, Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), Second Edition, cat. no. 1269.0, ABS, Canberra.

ABS 2008, Perspectives on Migrants, 2007, cat. no. 3416.0, ABS, Canberra.

ABS 2007, 2006 Census of Population and Housing, ABS, Canberra.

ABS 2007, Household Income and Income Distribution, Australia, cat. no. 6523.0, ABS, Canberra.

Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), Settlement Database, viewed 14 April 2008,
<http://www.immi.gov.au/living-in-australia/delivering-assistance/settlement-reporting-facility/index.htm>.

DIAC, Student Visa Statistics, viewed 14 April 2008, <http://www.diac.gov.au/media/statistics/study/index.htm>.

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