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Newsletters - Demography News - February 2003

In this issue:

The preliminary estimated resident population of Australia at June 2002 was 19.7 million persons, an increase of around 220,000 persons since June 2001. The world population at June 2002 was estimated to be 6.2 billion persons, an increase of around 74 million since June 2001. For the 12 months ended June 2002 Australia's population growth rate (1.1%) was slightly below the world's population growth rate (1.2%). When compared with selected countries it was the same as New Zealand (1.1%) comparable with Thailand (1.0%) higher than Japan and Germany (each 0.1%) and lower than Singapore (3.5%). The June Quarter 2002 issue of Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0) issued 12 December 2002 shows, together with regular data, a comparison of Australia's population growth with the growth experienced by selected overseas countries. For more information please contact on (02) 6252 6296.


The ABS will be issuing a new electronic release Population, Australian States and Territories - Electronic Publication, September Quarter 2002 (cat. no. 3239.0.55.001) on the ABS website at 11:30AM (Canberra time) on 18 February 2003 containing the latest population totals for September Quarter 2002 with a shortened time series back to December Quarter 2000. This release will be followed on 20 March 2003 with the usual September 2002 issue of Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0) containing estimates back to September Quarter 1996.

Population by Age and Sex, Australia, (cat. no. 3201.0) estimated resident population by single year of age and sex for all states, territories and Australia for 30 June 1997 to 2001 will be released on 20 March 2003. The publication will also include preliminary estimates for June 2002.

These releases will contain final estimates based on the 2001 Census of Population and Housing including revised estimates for 2001 Census net undercount, residents temporarily overseas on Census night, and revised net overseas migration statistics now that passenger card data for August 2000 to June 2001 are available. 2001 Census interstate migration results have also been incorporated in the 1997-2001 final estimates.

Of relevance to these releases are Demography Working Paper 2002/2 - Estimated Resident Population and Effects of Census Systems Created Records, which discusses initial findings of a review of processes used in determining the preliminary 2001 Census rebased estimates released in mid 2002, and Demography Working Paper 2003/1 - Estimated Resident Population and Measurement of Category Jumping which discusses a recently detected deficiency in the current measurement of category jumping and ABS proposals to minimise its impact on ERP data.

The 1991-2001 issue of Regional Population Growth, Australia and New Zealand (cat. no. 3218.0) released in July 2002 advised that the 2001-02 issue, containing both final 2001 and preliminary 2002 Local Government Area and Statistical Local Area population estimates, would be released in May 2003. The release date has been brought forward to 3 April 2003.


Population estimates produced by the ABS are important inputs to the allocation of funds to States and Territories and are required less than 6 months after the reference period (31 December each year). The ABS uses the most recent figures available for estimating components of population growth even if more accurate data will become available later. Consequently the ABS revises quarterly population estimates in stages as additional information becomes available.

Whilst there are three main categories of estimate (preliminary, revised and final), there is potential for an estimate to be revised several times. All components of population estimates are susceptible to revision as new and more accurate data becomes available. In particular:
  • There is an interval between the date of occurrence of births and deaths, and their date of registration with State and Territory Registrars. Due to the delays in registration, estimates of natural increase (ie births minus deaths) become more accurate over time.
  • Estimates of net overseas migration are also refined with time and can only be finalised 12 months after the reference date when passenger card data enables an assessment of whether, in aggregate, individual migration intentions have been realised.
  • Incorporating the results of the latest Census including allowance for net undercount and residents temporarily overseas on Census night ensures that population estimates are based on the most recent complete count of the population.

Over recent years revisions to net migration estimates have had greater impact than revisions to natural increase. Further, from August 2000 until late 2002 there has been disruption to the availability of complete overseas migration data due to delays in processing of passenger cards as a result of data capture and processing system changes by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs.

The series of revisions that usually occur and their timing are outlined in Attachment A.

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The number of births registered in 2001 declined by 3,200 or 1% compared to 2000, from 249,600 to 246,400. Australia's fertility rate declined to 1.73 babies per woman while the median age of mothers of newborns reached 30.0 years.

The fertility rate varied substantially across the states and territories in 2001, from 1.51 babies per woman in the Australian Capital Territory to 2.26 in the Northern Territory. Of the capital cities, Melbourne had the lowest fertility (1.54 babies per woman averaged over the three years, 1999 to 2001), followed by Adelaide and Canberra (1.61). Overall, women living in Australia's major cities (69% of all women aged 15-49 years) had the lowest fertility rate (1.65) while women living in remote areas (2.27) and very remote areas (2.28) had the highest fertility rates.

Women born in Australia who registered a birth in the three years 1999 to 2001 experienced a total fertility rate of 1.74 babies per women. Of the women who were born overseas who registered a birth in Australia during those years, there was wide variation in total fertility rates according to country of birth. For example, women born in Lebanon had a total fertility rate of 3.46 babies while women born in Hong Kong had a rate of 0.94 babies.

Victoria had the highest median age of mothers at 30.7 years, followed by the Australian Capital Territory (30.4 years) and South Australia (30.3 years). The lowest median age of mothers giving birth in 2001 was in the Northern Territory (27.9 years) followed by Tasmania (29.1 years).

Further details are available in Births, Australia, 2001 (cat. no. 3301.0), released on the 7 November 2002


In 2001, 128,540 deaths (66,830 males and 61,710 females) were registered in Australia, 250 more than in 2000 (128,290). There were 2,100 deaths registered in 2001 where the deceased was identified as being of Indigenous origin (Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or both origins). The median age at death in 2001 was 76 years for males and 82 years for females (an increase of 6 and 5 years respectively on 1981 median ages). The median age at death for Indigenous males was 52 years and 58 years for females.

Since 1981 the number of deaths has increased by an average of around 1% per year. The steady increase over time reflects the increasing size of the population and, in particular, an aging population. The death rate has declined 5% since 2000 and 36% since 1981, after accounting for the differences in the age structure of the population over the period.

Australia's 1999-2001 life expectancy at birth of 77 years for males and 82.4 years for females is amongst the highest in the world. Regional life expectancy at birth in 1999-2001 for males and females varied across the regions of Australia by up to 11 years. Australia's more rural and remote populations had higher mortality rates and consequently lower life expectancy than populations living in capital cities and other urban areas.

Further details are in Deaths, Australia 2001 (cat. no. 3302.0) and Causes of Death, Australia 2001 (cat. no. 3303.0), released on 10 December.


The delays in the provision of final Overseas Arrivals and Departures (OAD) data by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA), associated with the introduction of new passenger card processing arrangements from August 2000 have been resolved. DIMIA has now provided data for all outstanding months and the backlog published. The last outstanding months, April to June 2001 were published in Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia (cat. no. 3401.0) on 17 December 2002.

ABS reviewed the dissemination of OAD statistics in consultation with major users with the return to monthly releases commencing with the August 2002 issue. Overseas Arrivals and Departures (cat. no. 3401.0) is now released approximately three weeks from the end of the reference month and contains preliminary information for the reference month together with final passenger card based information for the previous month. For example, November 2002 issue was released on 23 December 2002, and contained preliminary information for November 2002 and final information for October 2002). Some tables were changed to include both the financial year-to-date and calendar year-to-date totals.

Apart from these changes, the format of the publication remains substantially unchanged from the standard format prior to August 2000. Some additional suggested changes are being investigated and considered and consultation with users will commence within the next few weeks with the release of a new ABS Demography Working Paper outlining potential changes in the content, analysis and commentary, and improved timeliness for implementation by mid 2003.


Because of the delays in provision of OAD data, Migration, Australia 2000-01 (cat. no. 3412.0) has been withdrawn from publication. Information for 2000-01 and 2001-02 will be included in a combined issue scheduled for released in May 2003.


The ABS has scheduled a number of these 1 day courses in March in Canberra, Melbourne and Perth. The aim of the Understanding Demographic Data 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; population projections; estimating the population of small areas; some tools for analysing demographic data and population dynamics. The course fee includes a light lunch, course notes and a copy of Australian Demographic Statistics (Cat. no. 3101.0). For general enquiries, please contact Genevieve Heard or (02) 6252 7883.


Over the past few months, the ABS has been working on improving its time series spreadsheets. We are pleased to announce that the new Excel format time series spreadsheets have now been released on the ABS Website for customer evaluation and comment.
At this stage we have three sample workbooks available. These can be accessed via:
  • a link appearing in the 8501.0 Time Series Spreadsheets document on the ABS Website or
  • a link appearing in the News section of the ABS Website (click on News in the Home Page Navigator)

    These links provide information about the new product, access to the sample workbooks, and a further link to the 'Time Series Workbook Website Discussion Forum' (available at The Discussion Forum provides information regarding the underlying design principles, what we were trying to achieve in developing the product, and how the new format will benefit you. As well as providing you with information, we are seeking feedback on the new format, which will be analysed prior to finalising the specification for the full scale production process.

    If you wish to contribute to the discussion forum you must first register by providing the following details to

    First Name, Middle Initial, Last Name
    Organisation Name
    Email address (so we can advise login details)


    The ABS Demography program produces estimates of the population by age, sex, country of birth, Indigenous status, registered marital status, geographical distribution and estimates of families and households. Projections of the population, families and households, according to specified demographic assumptions, are published on a regular basis and produced for individual clients. Statistics are also regularly produced on births, deaths, marriages, divorces, overseas arrivals and departures and internal migration. For the ABS and other population surveys, benchmarks to facilitate estimation are provided. In addition to reporting on statistics, courses are conducted and an email newsletter is sent to major clients.


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    If you wish to discuss statistical issues, contacts are as outlined below. (02) 6252 6573 (02) 6252 5117
    Migration - international and (02) 6252 6141
    Marriages and divorces - (02) 6252 7030
    Marriages and divorces - (02) 6252 6296
    Households and (02) 6252 6573
    Indigenous - (02) 6252 5583
    Indigenous - (02) 6252 5129
    Population - general and (02) 6252 6557
    Demography work program and emerging (02) 6252 6411

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