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1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Population

OVERSEAS BORN POPULATION

Australia, along with New Zealand, Canada and the United States, is often described as a 'settlement country'. All four countries have experienced positive net overseas migration in recent years (OECD 2010). These countries have relatively high proportions of the population who were born overseas, when compared with other OECD countries. Australia has the highest proportion aside from Luxembourg, where over one third of the population are foreign-born.

Foreign-born in selected OECD countries - 1997 and 2007

Percentage of population
Country
1997
2007

Australia
23.3
25.0
Canada
17.7
20.1
Finland
2.2
3.8
Italy(a)
2.1
5.8
Japan(a)
1.2
1.7
Luxembourg
31.9
36.2
Mexico(b)
0.4
0.4
United Kingdom
7.2
10.2
United States
10.7
13.6

(a) Foreign population rather than foreign-born population.
(b) Data for Mexico are for 1995 and 2005.
Source: OECD, OECD in Figures 2009

Australia has experienced successive waves of immigration over the past century, and each wave has been characterised by a different predominant region of origin, usually related to world events of the period. In the post Second World War period, immigration from Europe increased markedly. In recent times, the proportion of Australians who were born in European countries has declined. As those earlier immigrants have grown older and returned to their country of origin or died, current levels of immigration from these regions have not been high enough to replace them. However in 2007-08, North-West Europe and Southern and Eastern Europe were still the most common regions of birth for Australians born overseas (7.2% and 3.8% of all Australians were born in these regions). The proportion of Australians who were born in the various regions of Asia has continued to increase over the last decade, part of a trend that began in the late 1970s.

Regions of birth, Proportion of Australia's population, 30 June - 1999 and 2009

1999
2009(a)
%
%

Australia
76.9
73.5
Oceania and Antarctica (excl. Aust.)
2.4
3.0
North-West Europe
7.9
7.2
Southern and Eastern Europe
4.6
3.8
North Africa and the Middle East
1.2
1.5
South-East Asia
2.8
3.4
North-East Asia
1.6
2.8
Southern and Central Asia
0.9
2.3
Americas
0.9
1.1
Sub-Saharan Africa
0.7
1.3

(a) Estimates for 2008-09 are preliminary.
Source: ABS Migration, Australia, 2008-09 (cat. no. 3412.0)

RELATED PAGES

  • Population glossary
  • Population references
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