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Newsletters - Demography News - February 1999

This is an update on developments in demography and related statistics produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In this issue
1 Understanding Demographic Data
2 International Year of Older Persons
3 Regional issues - population growth and differences in well-being
4 Social conditions of Australia's children
5 Deaths, including the first release of multi-cause statistics
6 Indigenous population birth and death statistics
7 Overseas arrivals and departures: data quality issues
8 Demography (State) publications review
9 Household estimates review
10 What the ABS Demography Program produces
11 Key contacts

1 Understanding Demographic Data

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 Population 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.

The next courses are scheduled for 9 and 10 March 1999 in Brisbane at a cost of $300 per participant. If you would like more information or to register, please contact Monica Scott ( or (07) 3222 6436).

2 International Year of Older Persons

The International Year of Older Persons is being celebrated in 1999. Australia's population is ageing and it is projected that by 2051 between 24% and 26% of people may be aged 65 years and over. By comparison people aged 65 years and over represented 12% in 1998, 8% in 1948 and 4% at the beginning of the 20th century.

An ageing population is primarily due to fertility remaining at low levels coupled with low mortality over a long period of time. Australia's total fertility rate was 1.8 babies per woman in 1997 and the trend of below replacement level fertility (2.1 babies per woman) is expected to continue.

Further information is available in the article Older Persons published in Australian Demographic Statistics, June Quarter 1998 (Catalogue no. 3101.0, $19.50).

3 Regional issues

Population growth

Around 60% of Australia's 636 local government areas (LGAs) experienced population increase in the year ending June 1998. Seventeen out of 20 of the LGAs with the largest increase were in the State capitals. Seven were in Sydney, five in Melbourne, three in Perth and two in Brisbane, with the three non-State capital LGAs located in south-east Queensland.

In 1997-98 the population in Australia's capital cities grew at a faster rate than the Balance of State. During the year, Australia's estimated resident population rose by 1.2% to 18.75 million. For the second year in a row Tasmania's population declined.

Regional Population Growth, Australia: 1997-98 provides information on all LGAs and Statistical Local Areas in Australia including the estimated resident population for 1993, 1997 and 1998 and the percentage change that occurred in the population over the last year and last five years.

Click here to see the main features of Regional Population Growth, Australia: 1997-98 (Catalogue no. 3218.0)

Differences in well-being

Regions in Sydney and Melbourne contain both the most advantaged regions in Australia (such as Ku-ring-gai, Mosman and Woollahra in Sydney, and Boroondara - Camberwell South and Bayside - Brighton in Melbourne) as well as among the most disadvantaged regions (Maribyrnong and Brimbank - Sunshine in Melbourne, and Fairfield in Sydney).

Australia in Profile: a Regional Analysis (Catalogue no. 2032.0, $35) uses findings from the 1996 Census of Population and Housing to describe some of the major differences evident in the characteristics and well-being of people living in different parts of Australia. This report allows easy comparison between the circumstances of people who live in urban and rural areas, while also identifying the regions which have the lowest or highest proportion of people with different characteristics.

4 Social conditions of Australia's children

Children, Australia: A Social Report (Catalogue no. 4119.0, $31), due for release later this month, describes the social conditions of Australia's children (defined as persons aged 0-17), looking across a number of aspects of their lives. In providing the most up-to-date statistics available, Children, Australia: A Social Report brings together data from both the Australian Bureau of Statistics and other official sources. The report focuses on the vast majority of children who live with at least one of their parents, but some information is also presented on young people aged 15-17 who have made or commenced the transition to independent living.

5 Deaths
  • In 1997, there were 129,400 deaths, about half the number of births, resulting in a natural increase in Australia's population of 123,000 persons.
  • The most common causes of death were heart disease (28%) and cancer (27%). External causes, which include motor vehicle accidents, falls, drowning and suicide, accounted for 6% of all deaths.
  • At every age, males were more likely to die than females. The largest differences were in the 15-34 years age group where male rates were three times higher than female rates.
  • A boy born in Australia in 1995-97 could expect to live for 75.6 years, while a girl born in 1995-97 could expect to live for 81.3 years.
  • In 1997, the infant mortality rate was the lowest in Australian history, at 5.3 deaths per 1,000 live births. It has fallen by an average of almost 5% per year over the last 10 years and is among the lowest in the world.
  • People from the 10 largest birthplace groups in Australia have significantly lower death rates than those born in Australia. For example, Viet Nam-born migrants have a death rate 44% below the national rate. New Zealand-born migrants were the only exception, with a death rate close to the national rate.

Click here to see the main features of Deaths, Australia, 1997 (Catalogue no. 3302.0)

First release of multi-cause statistics

Statistics based on all causes of death reported on death certificates are available for the first time. This means that data on both underlying causes, as produced in previous years, and all contributory causes are now available.

This enhanced data set (multi-cause statistics) is valuable for providing a better understanding of causes of death. It allows for the examination of associations between causes of death and also allows the nature of injuries reported in external causes of death to be analysed.

Some highlights of the 1997 multi-cause data are as follows:
  • Where malignant neoplasms was the underlying cause, the most common contributory cause was 'pneumonia and influenza' which was reported in 7.9% of all cancer deaths. Other contributory causes of importance were: ischaemic heart disease (5.8%); chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (5.7%); nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis (4.4%); and diabetes mellitus (3.4%).
  • Ischaemic heart disease was often associated with one or more circulatory diseases. Hypertensive disease was reported as a contributory cause in 16% of all cases where the underlying cause was ischaemic heart disease. Other major contributory causes were chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (10%); diseases of the arteries, arterioles, and capillaries (10%): diabetes (8.7%;) and cerebrovascular disease (7.7%).
  • Intracranial injuries, internal injuries of the chest, abdomen and pelvis and fractures were the most common injuries reported in deaths due to motor vehicle accidents. These accounted respectively for 22%, 21%, and 15% of all injuries coded for motor vehicle traffic accidents.

For further details see Causes of Death, Australia, 1997 (Catalogue no. 3303.0)

6 Indigenous population birth and death statistics

Based on the 1996 Census, it is estimated that for Australia as a whole about half of all deaths of Indigenous people are being recorded as such in registered death statistics. Indicators of the coverage of registered Indigenous births and deaths are given in Births, Australia 1997 (Catalogue no. 3301.0) and Deaths, Australia, 1997 (Catalogue no. 3302.0).

7 Overseas arrivals and departures: data quality issues

Passenger cards and visa information form the basis for overseas arrival and departure statistics. From July 1998, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs has revised incoming and outgoing passenger cards and associated procedures and systems. There have been some significant data problems, particularly in relation to main reason for journey and main state of stay for short-term visitors. A summary of data quality issues to date will appear in Appendix 2 of the December 1998 issue of Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia (ABS Catalogue No. 3401.0).

8 Demography (State) publications review

A review of the Demography (State) (Catalogue nos. 3311.1-8) publications is being undertaken. Comments on the usefulness of the publications are welcome. Clients who have not already been approached are invited to make comments by end February to Adrian Smith on 02 6252 6630 or by email to

These publications aim to provide a comprehensive demographic overview of each State and Territory's population.

9 Household estimates review

ABS is currently reviewing its method of producing households estimates with the intention of improving the accuracy and stability of the estimates. It is likely that improved smoothing techniques for the household composition propensity data obtained from the monthly Labour Force Survey will be recommended.

10 What the ABS Demography Program produces

The demography program produces estimates of the total population by age, sex, birthplace, marital status and geographical distribution, estimates of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and estimates of households and the household population. Regular statistics are also produced on births, deaths, marriages, divorces, overseas arrivals and departures, and internal migration. Projections of the population according to specified demographic assumptions are published on a regular basis and produced for individual clients. Benchmarks are provided for ABS and other population surveys. In addition to reporting on these statistics, courses on understanding demographic data are conducted and an email newsletter is sent to major clients.

11 Key contacts

If you seeking demography or any other ABS data, contact the ABS by email -, telephone or visit us in each 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 demographic issues, please contact the following people.



      Migration - international

      Migration - internal

      Registered marriages and divorces

      Population estimates

      Indigenous population estimates
      and projections

      Population projections

      Household estimates

      Service population estimates

    (02) 6252 6557

    (02) 6252 7612

    (02) 6252 6522

    (02) 6252 6141

    (02) 6252 6296

    (02) 6252 6420

    (07) 3222 6073

    (02) 6252 5580

    (02) 6252 6027

    (08) 9360 5367

    (02) 6252 7329
    (02) 6252 6411

Commonwealth of Australia 2008

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