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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2008  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/02/2008   
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Contents >> Population >> Country of birth

COUNTRY OF BIRTH

Australia's population has increased each year since the end of World War II, due to a combination of high post-war fertility and high levels of migration. In 1901, 23% of Australia's population was born overseas. By 1947 the proportion of the overseas-born population had declined to 10%. The creation of a national government immigration portfolio in 1945 accompanied a gradual increase in the proportion of overseas-born Australians, and by 1995 this proportion had increased to 23%. In 2006 the number of overseas-born Australians reached five million, representing almost a quarter (24%) of the total population (table 7.39).

7.39 MAIN COUNTRIES OF BIRTH

1954(a)
1961(a)
1971(a)
1981(a)
1996(b)
2001(b)
2006(b)
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000

United Kingdom(c)
664.2
755.4
1 081.3
1 075.8
1 164.1
1 126.9
1 153.3
New Zealand
43.4
47.0
74.1
160.7
315.1
394.1
476.7
Italy
119.9
228.3
288.3
275.0
259.1
238.5
220.5
China(d)
10.3
14.5
17.1
25.2
121.1
157.0
203.1
Vietnam
na
na
na
40.7
164.2
169.5
180.4
India
12.0
14.2
28.7
41.0
84.8
103.6
153.6
Philippines
0.2
0.4
2.3
14.8
102.7
112.2
135.6
Greece
25.9
77.3
159.0
145.8
141.8
132.5
125.8
South Africa
6.0
7.9
12.2
26.5
61.7
86.9
118.8
Germany
65.4
109.3
110.0
109.3
120.8
117.5
114.9
Malaysia
2.3
5.8
14.4
30.5
83.0
87.2
103.9
Netherlands
52.0
102.1
98.6
95.1
95.3
91.2
87.0
Lebanon
3.9
7.3
23.9
49.4
77.6
80.0
86.6
Hong Kong (SAR of China)
1.6
3.5
5.4
15.3
77.1
75.2
76.3
Total overseas-born
1 285.8
1 778.3
2 545.9
2 950.9
4 258.6
4 482.1
4 956.9
Australian-born
7 700.1
8 729.4
10 173.1
11 388.8
14 052.1
14 931.2
15 648.6
Total population(e)
8 986.5
10 508.2
12 719.5
14 516.9
18 310.7
19 413.2
20 605.5

na not available
(a) Census counts.
(b) Estimated resident population at 30 June.
(c) Includes Ireland in 1954, 1961 and 1971.
(d) Excludes SARs and Taiwan Province.
(e) Includes country of birth ‘Not stated’ and ‘At sea’.
Source: Migration, Australia (3412.0).


Over the past 25 years patterns of immigration have changed, with increased diversity of countries of birth of migrants to Australia. Of the overseas-born population the United Kingdom remains the largest source country, despite having fallen from 36% of the overseas-born population in 1981 to 23% in 2006. Some of the older migrant streams, such as people born in Italy, Greece and the Netherlands, have declined in absolute numbers as their populations aged and the number of deaths exceeded net gains in population due to more recent migration.

In contrast, over the last 25 years the New Zealand-born population living in Australia nearly trebled, and in 2006 was the second largest overseas-born group making up 10% of the overseas-born population. There have also been large increases in numbers of people born in Asian countries. For example, the China-born population increased eightfold, from 25,200 people in 1981 to 203,100 people in 2006 (making up 4% of the overseas-born population), while the Vietnam-born population increased fourfold, from 40,700 people in 1981 to 180,400 people in 2006 (also making up 4% of the overseas-born population).

The 2006 Census showed that 26% of people born in Australia had at least one overseas-born parent (graph 7.40). Of these, 44% had both parents born overseas, 34% had their father (but not their mother) born overseas and 23% had their mother (but not their father) born overseas.

7.40 Birthplace of parents of Australian-born people - 2006
Graph: 7.40 Birthplace of parents of Australian-born people—2006





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