3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, Dec 2000  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/06/2001   
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Special Article - Permanent and long-term movement to Australia (Dec, 2000)

This article is sourced from
Australian Demographic Statistics (Cat. No. 3101.0)

Each year Australia's population increases through net overseas migration (the excess of permanent and long-term arrivals over permanent and long-term departures, with an adjustment for category jumping) and natural increase (the excess of births over deaths). Based on birth and death rates assumed for the future, natural increase is projected to decline over the coming years, with deaths exceeding births somewhere between 2033 and 2046 (Population Projections, Australia, 1999-2101 (Cat. no. 3222.0)). From that time, net overseas migration gains will become the only source of any continued population growth. In 1999-2000, net overseas migration comprised gains of 51,200 people through net permanent movement and 56,100 people through net long-term movement, and a loss of 8,200 people through category jumping.


Until 1999-2000, at least half of Australia's annual net overseas migration gains have stemmed from net permanent movement. Net long-term movement overtook net permanent movement for the first time during 1999-2000. Over the last 20 years Australia has gained, on average, 99,300 permanent settlers each year, ranging from a high of 145,300 in 1989 to a low of 68,800 in 1984. These gains have been partially offset by an average annual loss of 26,400 permanent departures over the same period.

Graph: Permanent movement

In recent years, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have been the major countries of birth for permanent migrants (24% and 10% of all permanent migrants, respectively, in 1999-2000). This reflects both the ease of travel between New Zealand and Australia under the Trans-Tasman Travel Agreement (which does not require immigrants to hold an Australian visa), and the established history of immigration from the United Kingdom to Australia, which has resulted in the United Kingdom-born being the largest overseas-born group in the population (6% of the total population at June 2000).

Permanent migration to Australia is largely regulated by the Government's Migration and Humanitarian Programs (accounting for almost two-thirds of all permanent arrivals during 1999-2000). As a result, Government policy has considerable influence over the number and composition of permanent settlers to Australia each year. Recent government emphasis on the economic benefits of skilled migrants has seen an increase in the proportion of settlers arriving on Skill Migration visas (62% of all Migration Program arrivals in 1999-2000, compared with around 20% during the mid-1980s). This increase is partially attributable to the introduction of a new Skill category in 1997-98 which replaced the Concessional Family category.

Overall, of all settlers in 1999-2000 aged 15 years and over, just over two-thirds (68%) stated an occupation on arrival. Of those who had an occupation, 36% were Professionals, 13% were Tradespersons and related workers, 12% were Managers and administrators and a further 12% were Intermediate production and transport workers.

Permanent arrivals tend to have a younger age structure than the population as a whole. In 1999-2000, permanent arrivals had a median age of 28.0 years, compared with a median age of 35.2 years for the total population at June 2000. This is not surprising given the age criteria factored into many of the government's Migration Program visa categories which favour younger migrants.

In 1999-2000, there were more female than male settler arrivals, with a sex ratio of 97 males to every 100 females. Settlers were predominantly male in the early 1980s and predominantly female from 1986-87. Over the past 20 years, the sex ratio has ranged from a high of 109 in 1980-81 to a low of 83 in 1995-96.


Over the past 20 years, the number of long-term visitor arrivals has increased nearly four-fold, from just 27,300 in 1983-84 to the 1999-2000 high of 133,200. While just over half of all long-term visitor arrivals during 1999-2000 had been born in the three Asian regions, the United Kingdom (14%), Indonesia (6%) and China (6%) were the main individual countries of birth.

Almost half (48%) of all long-term visitor arrivals in 1999-2000 came for education purposes, and a further 28% came for either business or employment reasons. The majority of long-term visitor arrivals from the three Asian regions came for education (75% of all long-term Asian arrivals).

Graph: Numbers, Long-term visitor arrivals, main reason for journey

As with permanent arrivals, long-term visitors tended to be younger than the population as a whole (a median age of 24.7 years in 1999-2000). This largely reflects the high number of international students among visitor arrivals, who have the youngest median age of all long-term visitor arrivals (21.8 years).


Additional analysis and data are available in Migration, Australia, 1999-2000 (Cat. no. 3412.0) released on 15 March 2001.