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1345.4 - SA Stats, May 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/05/2010   
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FEATURE ARTICLE: INTERSTATE DEPARTURES FROM SOUTH AUSTRALIA


INTRODUCTION

South Australia currently has the slowest population growth of all Australian mainland states. The components of population change are natural increase (births minus deaths) and migration (overseas, interstate and intrastate). Of these components, migration is the most volatile.

Fluctuations in migration reflect changing opportunities in Australia and the varying needs of the population in terms of employment, education and housing (Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, 2006). In this article, only interstate migration will be discussed.

In the 12 months to June 2009, South Australia's estimated resident population (ERP) grew by 1.2%, compared to 2.1% for all of Australia (ABS 2010). A key factor behind this slow growth rate is the state's annual net loss of people due to interstate migration. This issue is highlighted in the State Population Policy (Government of South Australia 2004) and South Australia's Strategic Plan (Government of South Australia 2007). Specifically, the Strategic Plan sets the target of reducing annual net interstate migration loss to zero by 2010, and then sustaining a net inflow through to 2014.

This article uses data from Australian Demographic Statistics (ABS 2010), Migration, Australia (ABS 2009) and the 2006 Census of Population and Housing (ABS) to explore trends in net migration and interstate departures from South Australia over the period 1971-72 to 2008-09. Age and gender breakdowns are presented, as well as the origin and destination of people departing South Australia. This gives some insight into the demographic characteristics of migrants, which may assist in achieving the targets set in the state's key planning documents.


INTERSTATE MIGRATION

Net Interstate Migration

Since the ABS began recording interstate migration in 1971-72, there have only been four years when South Australia has experienced positive net interstate migration; 1974-75, 1975-76, 1983-84 and 1990-91. The early migration spike in 1974-75 (net gain of 13,000 people) occurred as many people from Darwin and the surrounding area relocated to South Australia after Cyclone Tracy. The last positive inflow of interstate migrants coincided with a national economic recession, resulting in a net gain of 1,100 people to South Australia from Victoria. Net migration flow between these two states has only been positive for South Australia in four years since 1986-87.

The ability of the South Australian economy to recover from the recession was undermined by the collapse of the State Bank in 1991. The collapse damaged employment prospects, as well as business and consumer confidence, and contributed to the large net outflow of persons from South Australia through the mid 1990s. (South Australian Centre for Economic Studies, 2004) Over the period 1991-92 to 1995-96 the state recorded a net loss of 23,100 people. The net loss of 7,100 people in 1994-95 remains the largest annual net loss ever recorded in South Australia with Queensland and Western Australia the predominant destinations.

With the exception of 2005-06, net losses have again been increasing in the six years since 2002-03. The average annual net loss over this time was in excess of 3,600 people.

NET INTERSTATE MIGRATION, South Australia
Graph: NET INTERSTATE MIGRATION, South Australia



Interstate Departures

The total number of people moving from South Australia has fluctuated between about 20,000 and 33,000 people each year over the last four decades. The numbers leaving South Australia for other states (i.e., interstate departures) were mainly at the lower end of this range in the early 1980s. Poor economic conditions and drought affected South Australia at this time, which may have changed migrants' preferred place of relocation. In the five years to 1986, movements between Statistical Divisions (SDs) within South Australia increased dramatically (up 24%) from the previous five-year period. In contrast, the number of interstate departures decreased.

There was also a national decrease in total interstate departures between 1981-82 and 1982-83 (down 14%). In 1983-84, the number of South Australians who migrated to another state was the lowest on record (20,600 people). The number of departures increased over the remainder of the 1980s, and peaked in 1996-97, when a record-high 32,600 South Australians moved interstate.

The number of people leaving South Australia generally declined from 1996-97 to 2005-06, coinciding with a period of continuous economic growth. A twenty-year low was recorded in 2005-06, when 25,600 South Australians moved interstate.

INTERSTATE DEPARTURES, South Australia
Graph: INTERSTATE DEPARTURES, South Australia



WHO IS LEAVING SOUTH AUSTRALIA?

Age Characteristics

South Australia's migrating population creates many issues for the state, including less people in the workforce and lower fertility rates. The State Population Policy outlines strategies for population growth and renewal, including "reducing the net outflow of young and skilled people" (Government of South Australia, 2004)

People in the 20-39 year-old age bracket have accounted for a substantial proportion of all South Australian departures (over 44% in each year from 1971-72 to 2008-09). Their departure to another state/territory represents a major loss to the South Australian labour force and to the growth of South Australia's population, as these migrants are of a child-bearing age.

People aged 20-39 years accounted for 47% of all interstate movers in 2008-09, while comprising 27% of the total South Australian population. The 0-9 year age group accounted for 14% of interstate departures and 12% of the population in 2008-09. It is likely that children of this age will move with their parents, and hence departures for 0-9 and 20-39 year-olds display similar trends.

INTERSTATE DEPARTURE AND POPULATION AGE STRUCTURES(a), SA - 2008-09
Graph: INTERSTATE DEPARTURE AND POPULATION AGE STRUCTURES(a), SA—2008-09


It is well documented that South Australia has an ageing population. In the twenty years to June 2009, the proportion of 20-39 year-olds has decreased from 32% to 27% whilst the proportion of the population aged 40-59 years has increased from 22% to 27%.

As the number of South Australians aged 40-59 years has increased in recent years, there has been a rise in interstate departures for this age group. Just under 1% of this group migrated to other states/territories each year during the 1970s and early 1980s. This proportion generally increased to 2002-03, before dropping to 1.2% in 2008-09. This indicates that recently, South Australia is retaining a larger proportion of older, working age adults.

The proportion of 20-39 year-olds who migrate interstate has fluctuated over the last four decades. This proportion increased in the early 1990s, and peaked in 1995-96 (at 3.7%). This underlines the effect of economic events, such as growth and recession, on the migration patterns of young adults.

INTERSTATE DEPARTURES, As a proportion of specific age groups(a) - SA
Graph: INTERSTATE DEPARTURES, As a proportion of specific age groups(a)—SA



Sex characteristics

More males than females have departed South Australia for interstate destinations over the last four decades. The sex ratio (number of males per 100 females) for interstate departures has been above 100 in all but four financial years since 1971-72. This is despite South Australia's population comprising more females than males.

The interstate departure sex ratio for all people generally decreased in the twenty years to 2005-06. This trend reversed in 2006-07, when the ratio increased to 102. The main driver in this increase was the 20-39 age group. The interstate departure sex ratio for this age group increased by 7% in 2006-07, and exceeded 100 for the first time in nine years.

INTERSTATE DEPARTURES, SA - Sex ratio
Graph: INTERSTATE DEPARTURES, SA—Sex ratio



ORIGIN OF INTERSTATE MIGRANT DEPARTURES

The Adelaide Statistical Division (SD) is the most populated in South Australia and between the 2001 and 2006 Census it recorded the highest number of departures (41,000 people). The SDs with the most departures outside of Adelaide were Outer Adelaide (4,100 people) and Northern (3,800). The Eyre SD had the lowest number of departures from 2001 to 2006 (1,200 people).

Compared to other SDs, the South East lost the highest proportion of its 'Census' population (5.6%) due to interstate departures between 2001 and 2006. The Northern and Murray Lands SDs lost the next highest proportions (5.0% and 3.9% respectively). Higher interstate departure rates could be expected for these three SDs, given that they border other states.

INTERSTATE DEPARTURES(a), By Statistical Division - 2001-2006
Diagram: INTERSTATE DEPARTURES(a), By Statistical Division—2001-2006


(a) Interstate departures in proportion to 2006 Census count.

Source: Census of Population and Housing, 2006


DESTINATION OF INTERSTATE MIGRANT DEPARTURES

New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have generally been the most popular destinations for South Australians who move interstate. Of these three states, Queensland was the least popular destination for 1971-76, but the most popular for 2001-06. Over this period of time, there was a decline in interstate departures (as a proportion of total departures) to New South Wales, while departures to Victoria were relatively steady.

INTERSTATE DEPARTURES(a)(b), By state/territory of destination(c)

1971-76
1976-81
1981-86
1986-91
1991-96
1996-2001
2001-06
State
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

NSW
23
25
23
22
22
23
19
Vic.
29
26
26
27
23
29
27
Qld
15
19
21
22
27
23
28
WA
16
13
12
11
11
11
11
Tas.
3
3
3
3
3
3
4
NT
9
10
11
10
10
8
8
ACT
5
4
4
4
4
4
3
Total
100
100
100
100
100
100
100

(a) Interstate departures from South Australia in the five years between each census from 1971 to 2006, as a proportion of all interstate departures from South Australia.
(b) Excludes those who did not state their current place of usual residence or who were overseas on Census night.
(c) Excludes Other Territories
Source: Census of Population and Housing, 2006


Of the South Australians who migrated to another state/territory between 2001 and 2006, the greatest proportions moved to capital city SDs. The most popular city was Melbourne, followed by Brisbane, Sydney and Perth. More than half (53%) of all South Australians moving to these capital cities were aged 20-39 years, with the highest proportion (17%) aged 25-29 years.

The most popular non capital city destination for interstate migrants from South Australia was the Gold Coast, followed by the Northern Territory - Balance SD and the Far North SD in Queensland. These SDs attracted a number of elderly adults. In particular, more 60-79 year-old South Australians moved to the Gold Coast SD (300 people) between 2001 and 2006 than most capital city SDs (excluding Brisbane and Melbourne). Overall, Queensland attracted more 40-59 and 60-79 year-olds than any other state in the five years to 2006.

MOST POPULAR DESTINATIONS, By Statistical Division, 2001-06

SD
Part of state/territory(a)
no.
%

Melbourne
Vic. CC
9 790
16.8
Brisbane
Qld CC
6 070
10.4
Sydney
NSW CC
5 950
10.2
Perth
WA CC
3 950
6.8
Darwin
NT CC
2 650
4.5
Gold Coast
Qld BOS
2 550
4.4
Canberra
ACT CC
1 990
3.4
Northern Territory - Balance
NT BOS
1 710
2.9
Far North
Qld BOS
1 460
2.5
Sunshine Coast
Qld BOS
1 450
2.5

(a) Capital city (CC) or balance of state (BOS)
Source: Census of Population and Housing, 2006



SUMMARY

The issue of South Australia's loss of population due to interstate migration has attracted attention in some of the state's key planning documents. Highlighted in these plans is the importance of reducing net outflow and retaining "young and skilled people" (Government of South Australia 2004). The analysis of interstate migration data in this article reveals that the number of South Australians moving interstate hit a twenty-year low in 2005-06, and was up slightly from this level in 2008-09. The proportion of working-age adults leaving the state has also generally decreased over the last few years.

Generally, more males move interstate from South Australia than females. However, for 20-39 year-olds, more females departed the state than males in the eight years to 2005-06. This trend has reversed, with young males again driving the interstate departure sex ratio back above 100 in the years that followed.

Further analysis of Census data shows that the South East and Northern SDs experienced the highest loss of people due to interstate departures from 2001-06. Queensland has become the most popular destination for South Australians who move interstate, and is attracting older migrants. Young adults who migrate interstate are choosing to live in capital cities.


REFERENCES

ABS, Census of Population and Housing, 2006

ABS 2009, Migration, Australia, 2007-08 (cat. no. 3412.0)

ABS 2010, Australian Demographic Statistics, Jun 2009 (cat. no. 3101.0)

Government of South Australia 2004, Prosperity Through People - A Population Policy for South Australia

Government of South Australia 2007, South Australia's Strategic Plan 2007

South Australian Centre for Economic Studies 2004, Economic Issues No. 8: 'Review of the South Australian Economy 1990-2003' M. O'Neil, P. Neal, A. T. Nguyen viewed 19 May 2010 http://www.adelaide.edu.au/saces/publications/issues/SAEconomy19902003EIP8.pdf

Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment 2006, Interstate Migration: At a Glance


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