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Newsletters - Demography News - October 2000

1 Population growth

The preliminary estimated resident population of Australia at March 2000 was 19.1 million persons, an increase of 215,000 since March 1999 and 53,400 persons since December 1999. The national growth rate during the 12 months to March 2000 was 1.1%, the same growth rate as for the preceding 12 months. Just over half of this growth resulted from the excess of births over deaths (0.6%) and the rest from net overseas migration (0.5%). Preliminary net overseas migration for the year ended March 2000 was 97,100 persons. Queensland recorded the highest growth rate among all States and Territories in the year to March 2000 at 1.6%.

Further information is available in Australian Demographic Statistics, March Quarter 2000 (Cat. No. 3101.0) released on 28 September 2000.

2 Marriages and Divorces

Civil celebrants have, for the first time, become the preferred choice of couples marrying. In 1999, just over 51% of people marrying chose civil celebrants to perform their marriage. At the start of the century only around 3% were electing to be married by civil celebrants. However, the two largest States (New South Wales and Victoria) did not conform to the national choice and continued to have a higher proportion of their marriages being performed by ministers of religion (52% and just over 50%, respectively).

Another first for marriages in Australia in 1999 was that the median age of men marrying exceeded 30 years of age for the first time (30.1 years). This continues the long-term trend towards older age at marriage which was evident for both men and women. The median age of women marrying was 27.9 years. Ten years ago the median age at marriage was 28.0 years and 25.7 years for men and women, respectively.

Overall 46% of marriages are likely to end in divorce. Age at marriage is associated with the likelihood to divorce with the highest divorce rates likely to occur among people who marry at ages under 20 years.

Further information is available in Marriages and Divorces Australia, 1999 (Cat. No. 3310.0) released on 21 September 2000. The publication contains two special articles, Divorces by Country of Birth which examines the country of birth specific divorce rates of major birthplace groups within Australia and Divorce in the Nineties which looks at divorce trends and expectations by age at marriage and duration of marriage.

3 Understanding Demographic Data in Darwin and Sydney

The next Understanding Demographic Data courses are scheduled for 23 October in Darwin and 2 and 3 November in Sydney.

The aim of this one day course is to provide an understanding of the framework of demographic data and the processes which shape the population. The course covers the relationship between Census data and Estimated Resident Population data; components of population growth; projections; estimating the population of small areas; some tools for analysing demographic data and population dynamics. It costs $327 per participant, including a light lunch.

The course continues to be well received and is contributing to a better understanding and use of ABS's demographic data among a wide range of clients from Commonwealth, State and Local Government bodies, business and community groups.

If you would like more information or to register, please contact Megha Raut for the Darwin course
( or 08 8943 2122) and Carol Chan for the Sydney courses ( or (02) 9268 4795).

4 Australia in future

For the first time projections for Australia were taken out 100 years to show the long term effect of continued low fertility and maintaining various levels of net overseas migration. Projections were also produced for States and Territories, capital cities and balances of State up to 2051. Australia's population as a whole is projected to grow from the current size of 19 million to between 24 and 28 million over the next 50 years. At the end of the century the population is projected to range between 23 and 32 million.

The projections show that the ageing of the population will continue. This is the inevitable result of fertility remaining at low levels over a long period, combined with increasing life expectancy. The median age of the population is projected to increase by about 10 years from the present level of 35 years to 44-47 years in 2051.

The population aged 65 years and over could triple in size, increasing from 2.3 million in 1999 to 6.4-6.8 million in 2051. By 2051 they could make up 24-27 per cent of the population compared with 12 per cent in 1999. The size of this group will increase rapidly from 2011 onwards when the post World War II "baby boomers" start turning 65.

The population aged 85 years and over is projected to be five times larger in 2051, increasing from the current size of 241,000 (1.3 per cent of the total population) in 1999 to about 1.3 million or 5 per cent of the population in 2051. But this group will be less dominated by women than it is now, with the proportion of men increasing from 31 per cent to 41 per cent over the next 50 years. This is because men are living longer and the gap between the life expectancy of men and women is assumed to be narrowing.

Further information is available in Population Projections, Australia 1999-2101 (Cat. No. 3222.0) released on 17 August.

5 Historical statistics

The ABS plans to produce an electronic product available on the ABS web site containing a wide range of historical time series demographic data going back, where possible, to the beginnings of European settlement. It is envisaged that the major users of this data will be people in education - schools, colleges and universities.

A preliminary list of data items is currently being compiled covering the broad themes of population, births, deaths, marriages, divorces and migration.

We are keen to hear clients' suggestions for data content and the format in which the data should be presented on the web. Please contact Sue Taylor ( or (02) 6252 6141) if you have any ideas you would like to contribute or would like further information.

6 How ABS estimates small area populations annually

A new working paper on small area population estimates is now available. The paper outlines methods used to estimate small area populations and discusses the way that the official estimates of sub-state populations are produced in Australia. See Demography Working Paper 2000/3: Methods and Procedures for Estimating Small Area Populations in Australia available on the ABS web site at and select Themes/Demography/ABS Demography Working Papers.

7 Australian Population Association 10th biennial conference

The Australian Population Association (APA) conference
Population and Globalisation: Australia in the 21st Century will be held in Melbourne from 29 November to 1 December 2000. The venue is Ridges Riverwalk Hotel, Richmond which fronts onto the Yarra River beside a picturesque walking track and a short tram ride from the city. Plenary sessions will be on Global Cities, Environment and Population and Immigration, with presentations from international experts including Professor Pieter Hooimeijer from Utrecht University, Holland, Professor Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University, USA and Professor Philip Martin from the University of California, USA in addition to noted Australian experts in the field. As well there will be a large number of concurrent sessions.

The Borrie Lecture will be presented by Emeritus Professor Jerzy Zubrzycki at the new Museum of Victoria on the evening of 28 November.

For further information see the APA web site

8 What the ABS Demography Program produces

The Demography Program produces estimates of the total population by age, sex, country of birth, registered marital status and geographical distribution, estimates of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and estimates of families and households. Statistics are also regularly produced on births, deaths, marriages, divorces, overseas arrivals and departures, and internal migration. Projections of the population, families and households according to specified demographic assumptions are published on a regular basis and produced for individual clients. In addition to reporting on these statistics, courses on understanding demographic data are conducted and an email newsletter is sent to major clients.

9 Key contacts

If you seeking demography or any other ABS data, you can:

  • contact your nearest library to see whether it has the ABS statistics you require
  • telephone the National Information Service on 1300 135 070, overseas clients please call 61 2 9268 4909.
  • visit the ABS Office in your capital city.

To subscribe to publications on a regular basis, please call 1300 366 323.

To order particular ABS publication(s), please call (02) 6252 5249.

If you wish to discuss issues and/or data, contacts are as outlined below.

Demographic issues 6252 6573 6252 5117
Migration - international and 6252 6522
Marriages and divorces- 6252 7030
Marriages and divorces - 6252 6296
Households and 6252 6141
Indigenous - 8943 2141
Indigenous - estimates and 6252 7083
General or 6252 6557

Demographic data
Population estimates - 6252 6027
Population estimates - 8237 7370
Population 6252 5580
Indigenous population estimates and 6252 7083
Household 6252 6027
Household and family 6252 6141
Service population 9360 5935
Births, deaths, marriages and 3222 6047
Overseas arrivals and 6252 5640
General or 6252 6639

Commonwealth of Australia 2008

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