3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, Mar 2016 Quality Declaration 
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FEATURE ARTICLE: INTERSTATE MIGRATION BY AGE
INTRODUCTION

Migration is an important contributor to Australia’s growing population. Overseas migration is a major factor in population growth, but what is often overlooked is the impact of interstate migration on the demographic composition of the states and territories, not only in terms of overall population levels, but in their age structures. This article will focus on two distinct age groups (20-29 year olds and 65 years and over) to look at how interstate migration differs by age, using data from Australian Demographic Statistics (ABS Cat. No. 3101.0). These age groups are the focus of this article because of their distinctive patterns of interstate movement, with the 20-29 year old population having the highest rates of intestate mobility and the 65 years and over population having the lowest. Comparing and contrasting the two patterns of migration can help to clarify the complexity of interstate migration and inform age based policy.

Overall, 350,000 people moved between states and territories in 2015. The overall level of interstate migration was similar ten years ago with interstate migration in 2006 at 345,000, an increase of 1.4%. As well as a change to levels of interstate movement over this time, the number of moves between states and territories by age also changed.

Graph Image for 1.Percent of Australian population that moved interstate by age, 2006-2015

Source(s): Australian Demographic Statistics, March 2016 (3101.0)


People move interstate for many different reasons, including for economic, lifestyle and family reasons. Social and economic factors affect age groups in different ways. In 2015, 2% of the working age population (people age 15-65 years) moved interstate compared to 2% of children (age 0-14 years) and less than 1% of people aged 65 years and over. Younger children moved more than older children and teenagers. This may be because the parents of young children are more often at the start of their career and willing to move for work opportunities, or because families with older children are more reluctant to break established social connections.

Graph Image for 2. Interstate movements between New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland

Source(s): Australian Demographic Statistics March Quarter 2016 (3101.0)



In 2015, 72% of all interstate movements were to either NSW, Victoria or Queensland. While 10 years earlier this percentage was similar at 70%, there were considerable differences in the patterns of migration between these three states.

Of all the interstate movements between the three largest states, in 2006 almost one in three (30%) were people moving from New South Wales to Queensland. By 2015, this had dropped to one in four (25%). The second most common move in 2006 was in the opposite direction – people moving from Queensland to New South Wales (20%). This proportion increased to 22% by 2015. Between 2006 and 2015 there was a large change of people moving from Queensland to Victoria, which increased from 10% to 12% of movements between the three states.

The change in pattern of migration from 2006 has seen a shift away from Queensland as a destination to Victoria. This change has been driven by the working age population, in particular those aged between 20-29 years old .

Within the working age population, more people aged 20 to 29 moved interstate in 2015 than any other 10 year age group with 3% of all 20 to 29 year olds moving interstate. This made up 27% of all interstate migrants. This pattern is not limited to 2015 with the 20-29 year old population having the most interstate migrants every year between 2006 and 2015.

Below we will look at the changing trends in interstate migration first for the 20 to 29 year old population, and then for people aged 65 years and over.

YOUNG WORKING AGE POPULATION (20-29 YEARS)

Graph Image for 3.State of arrival for people moving interstate, 2015

Source(s): Australian Demogrpahic Statistics, March 2016(3101.0)


For the 20 to 29 year old population in 2015 the most popular destination for interstate migrants was New South Wales, which received 26% of 20-29 year old interstate arrivals. This was closely followed by Victoria (24%), and Queensland (22%). When comparing this age group against other age groups in the population they are more inclined to migrate interstate to Victoria than the total population (24% of movers in this age group compared with 22% all movers) and are less inclined to migrate to Queensland (22% of movers in this age group compared with 25% all movers).

Graph Image for 4.Interstate arrivals by state, 20-29 year olds, 2006-2015

Source(s): Australian Demographic Statistics March Quarter 2016 (3101.0)


Between 2006 and 2008, Queensland was the most popular destination for 20 to 29 year old interstate migrants, with 26,000 arrivals in 2008. Both New South Wales and Victoria have since overtaken Queensland in number of arrivals. The number of 20 to 29 year old arrivals to Western Australia grew by 3,500 people from 2006 to 2008, and has since declined in 2015. This pattern can also be seen in Queensland. The similarities between these two states partially reflects the economic effects of the mining boom in both Western Australia and Queensland.

The share of 20-29 year old interstate arrivals to Queensland dropped noticeably between 2006 and 2015, whilst the proportion of arrivals to Victoria has risen. Arrivals to Western Australia rose in 2012 but had declined again by 2015. From 2006 to 2015 departures of 20-29 year olds from Queensland increased while departures from New South Wales decreased.

Graph Image for 5.Interstate arrivals and departures, 20-29 year olds, 2015

Source(s): Australian Demographic Statistics March Quarter 2016 (3101.0)


As a proportion of the 20 to 29 year old population, both arrivals and departures of this age group are significantly higher for the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory than for the other states in 2015. This high flow of young people in both directions for the two territories reflects people in this age group moving for education and job opportunities. Tasmania has the largest net loss from interstate migration for this age group. This is again possibly related to study and employment opportunities in Tasmania compared with other states and territories.

RETIREMENT AGE

People ages 65 years and over tend to move interstate the least. In 2015 less than 1% of the 65 years and over population moved interstate, compared to 3% of 20 to 29 year olds. The interstate migration behaviours of this older age group are influenced by very different economic and social factors than the 20 to 29 year old population.

Graph Image for 6.State of arrival for people moving interstate, 2015

Source(s): Australian Demographic Statistics March Quarter 2016 (3101.0)


For people aged 65 years and over, the most popular interstate destination in 2015 was Queensland (31% of interstate arrivals). People in this age group were more inclined to migrate to either Queensland or Tasmania than younger people (a total of 36% of movers in this age group compared to a total of 28% of all movers), and less inclined to move to Victoria, Western Australia, or the Northern Territory (a total of 27% of movers in this age group compared to a total of 35% of all movers). During retirement people who left their home state earlier in their career may return to their state of origin, or choose a retirement destination without being affected by the same economic factors as the rest of the population.

Graph Image for 7.Interstate arrivals and departures, 65 and over, 2015

Source(s): Australian Demographic Statistics, March 2016 (3101.0)


In 2015, the 65 years and over age population in the Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory moved interstate as a proportion of the population more than other states. Both these territories have high interstate arrivals in younger age groups and smaller populations of the 65 years and over age group compared to other states. This means that a higher proportion of the population originated from interstate, and who may be moving back to their state of origin at retirement. The proportion of people aged 65 years and over leaving the Northern Territory is much larger than the proportion arriving, resulting in a net interstate migration loss. The opposite pattern can be seen in Tasmania and Queensland with arrivals outpacing departures.