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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

Population projections(a)
Graph Image for Population projections(a)

Footnote(s): (a) At 30 June.

Source(s): ABS Population Projections, Australia, 2006 to 2101 (cat. no. 3222.0)

POPULATION PROJECTIONS

Changes in the size, composition and distribution of the population are partly a product of prevailing social and economic conditions. Likewise, the structure and size of the population contribute to the shaping of the economy, society and the broader environment, ultimately influencing wellbeing for better or worse. While we cannot know with any certainty what Australia's future holds in terms of migration, fertility rates and life expectancy, we can model or project population growth and population change using a range of assumptions. In 2008, the ABS released population projections based on population estimates and various assumptions of fertility rates, migration and life expectancy. The three main projections, Series A, B and C, are used to provide the ranges discussed in this text (see the table at the bottom of this page for a summary of the assumptions) (ABS 2008b).

Australia's population in June 2006 of 20.7 million people is projected to increase to 35.5 million in 2056 and 44.7 million by 2101 (according to the Series B projection, which most closely reflects recent trends). Depending on the assumptions used, the population could increase to between 30.9 and 42.5 million in 2056 and to between 33.7 and 62.2 million by 2101.

These population projections show the 'ageing' of the Australian population continuing into the future. The median age of Australia's population is projected to increase from 36.6 years in June 2006 to between 41.9 and 45.2 years in 2056.

In each of the three main projections there is a significantly greater proportion of people aged 65 years and over in 2056, rising from 13% in 2006 to between 23% and 25% in 2056. The proportion aged 85 years and over is projected to increase from 1.6% in 2006 to between 4.9% and 7.3%. This is accompanied by the proportion of people aged 15-64 years (the 'working-age' population) declining from 67% in 2006 to between 58% and 60% in 2056.

As a consequence, the dependency ratio is projected to increase from 48 in 2006 to between 65 and 73 in 2056. Put another way, for each person outside the working age population in 2006, there were 2.1 working-age people, while in 2056, it is projected that there could be fewer than 1.5 working-age people for each person outside that age group. This ageing of the population may lead to lower labour force participation rates while also placing greater demand on health care and aged services.

The ABS animated population pyramids demonstrate the past and future projected ageing of the Australian population.

Age structure of the projected population(a)

(a) At 30 June. Series B population projection.
Source: ABS Population Projections, Australia, 2006-2101 (cat. no. 3222.0)

Assumptions used for ABS population projections

Assumptions

Series
Total fertility rate
Life expectancy at birth
Net overseas migration

A
TFR of 2.0 babies per woman from 2021 onwards
Increasing to 93.9 years for males and 96.1 for females by 2056 and remaining constant thereafter.
220,000 people per year from 2011 onwards
B
TFR of 1.8 babies per woman from 2021 onwards
Increasing to 85.0 years for males and 88.0 for females by 2056 and remaining constant thereafter.
180,000 people per year from 2008 onwards
C
TFR of 1.6 babies per woman from 2021 onwards
Increasing to 85.0 years for males and 88.0 for females by 2056 and remaining constant thereafter.
140,000 people per year from 2011 onwards

Source: ABS Population Projections, Australia, 2006-2101 (cat. no. 3222.0)

RELATED PAGES

  • Population glossary
  • Population references
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