3412.0 - Migration, Australia, 2008-09 Quality Declaration 
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Contents >> Migration in Context >> Migration and population growth

Migration and population growth

Each year Australia's population increases as a result of both natural increase and NOM. While natural increase has remained relatively stable, NOM has been far more volatile and in recent years has accounted for over half of the population growth at the national level (Figure 2.1).

2.1 Growth and Components of Population Change, Australia
Graph: 2.1 Growth and Components of Population Change, Australia

At 30 June 2009, the Australian population (ERP) was 22.0 million people. Over the preceding 12 months, the population increased by 456,700 persons, representing a growth rate of 2.1% (Table 2.2). In 2008-09, the preliminary estimate of NOM was the highest on record for a financial year at 298,900 persons, representing 65% of Australia's population growth for the year. The remainder (35%) of this growth was due to natural increase.

Over the last 20 financial years, natural increase has generally contributed more to Australia's annual population growth than NOM. However in the past three years, NOM has increased to become the major contributor to population growth (Figure 2.1). The contribution of NOM to population growth reached highs of 65% in 2007-08 and 2008-09 and a low of 17% in 1992-93. The low coincided with an economic downturn in Australia in the early 1990s. Conversely, natural increase's contribution reached a high of 80% in 1992-93 and lows of 35% in 2007-08 and 2008-09.

The year ended 30 June 2009 showed a continuation of trends in population growth observed over the past two decades, with relatively stable natural increase and fluctuating NOM. These fluctuations were largely the result of changes in the Australian Government's immigration targets, movement of New Zealand citizens to and from Australia, movement of temporary migrants, continuing demand for skilled migrants, an increase in international students studying in Australia, and a relatively healthy economic condition in Australia despite the global financial crisis. For a more in depth analysis of NOM see Chapter 3.

In 2007, to better measure the changes in traveller behaviour and in particular to more accurately capture and measure temporary migration, the ABS introduced improved methods for calculating NOM. The key improvement was the introduction of the '12/16 month rule', whereby a traveller is included in the resident population if the are in Australia for a total of 12 months or more over a 16 month period, or conversely, subtracted from the population if they are away for a total of 12 months or more over a 16 month period. This has replaced the previous method (12/12 month rule) where a traveller had to be in, or away from, Australia for 12 continuous months. The change in method has therefore resulted in a break in the official NOM time series at 30 June 2006. For further information on the '12/16 month rule' and the '12/12 month rule' refer to the Glossary and paragraphs 28 to 45 of the Explanatory Notes. Additional information on the current methodology (12/16 month rule) and the reasons for the change in method can be found under the Explanatory Notes tab, available with the electronic release of this publication in the Technical Note - '12/16 month rule' methodology for Calculating Net Overseas Migration from September quarter 2006 and onwards.

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