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Newsletters - Demography News - June 2004


The growth in Australia's population has two components; natural increase (the number of births minus the number of deaths) and net overseas migration (net permanent and long-term movement plus the migration adjustment). Since Federation natural increase has generally contributed more to annual population growth than net overseas migration. This was not the case for the year ended December 2003, when net overseas migration exceeded natural increase by 14,000 persons. This is attributed to high levels of net overseas migration rather than low levels of natural increase. Preliminary net overseas migration in the year ended December 2003 was 132,400 persons.

The preliminary estimated resident population (ERP) of Australia at December 2003 was 20,008,700 persons, an increase of 250,800 persons from December 2002 and 67,900 since September 2003. The national growth rate during the 12 months ended December 2003 was 1.3%, compared with 1.2% for the 12 months ended December 2002.

The December quarter 2003 issue of
Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0) was released on 4 June 2004. For more information please contact Rachael Hill on (02) 6252 6296 or


Unlike natural increase and net overseas migration, there is no direct measure of interstate migration for post annual quarters until the results of the next Population census become available. Instead, estimates of interstate migration are modelled using Medicare data on changes of address.

The model applied to Medicare data was reviewed in mid 2003. This review was primarily designed to update the expansion factors used to produce interstate migration estimates for the September quarter 2001 to the June quarter 2006, but also analysed the effect of lagging Medicare data, as well as different combinations of smoothing the Medicare and census data used to derive the expansion factors.

For further details on this review, please refer to Demography Working Paper 2004/1: Review of Interstate Migration Method (cat. no. 3106.0.55.001), available from the ABS web site.


The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has been compiling experimental Indigenous life tables for the period 1996-2001. Mortality estimates derived from these life tables will be used to prepare experimental Indigenous population estimates and projections.

The standard approach to calculating death rates used in life tables is to divide the number of deaths in a given population by the population 'exposed to risk' during that period. Although it is considered likely that most Indigenous births and deaths are registered, a proportion of these births and deaths are not identified as ‘Indigenous’. Without complete and accurate data on Indigenous births and deaths, and accurate data on the size and structure of the Indigenous population, the standard method for calculating Indigenous death rates cannot be used.

The ABS has used a new demographic method for determining the coverage (or completeness) of Indigenous deaths obtained from Australia's death registration system. This method offers definite improvement over other indirect methods available for estimating mortality from defective data. The main advantage of this method over other methods is that it explicitly allows for the 'non-biological' growth of the Indigenous population (i.e. growth which is unexplainable by demographic factors) between the two adjacent censuses to be taken into account. Using this method, the ABS calculates the consistency of Indigenous death registrations for the 1991-1996 and 1996-2001 intercensal periods relative to population estimates at the beginning and end of each five year period. A consistency factor, assumed to be constant at each age group, is applied to the observed age-specific death rates which are then used for the calculation of the Indigenous life tables.

The ABS has assessed the sensitivity of the method to assumptions about the level and age distribution of the non-biological growth in the Indigenous population. The sensitivity analysis was restricted to the 1996-2001 period only. Results obtained from the sensitivity analysis show that life expectancy estimates derived under various assumptions vary widely between states/territories and Australia.

A Demography Working Paper and the experimental Indigenous population estimates and projections will be released in July 2004.

For more information please contact Shahidullah on (02) 6252 5129 or


The outer areas of capital cities and coastal Australia experienced the highest population growth in 2002-03.The outer Melbourne suburban Local Government Area (LGA) of Melton recorded Australia's highest annual growth rate during 2002–03 of 11.8% (6,900 people). Other large growth areas within Melbourne occurred in the fringe LGAs of Casey and Wyndham (up 10,900 and 7,300 people respectively). In Sydney, the outer LGAs of Baulkham Hills and Blacktown also experienced large growth (up 4,100 and 3,400 people).

Behind Brisbane City (up 20,800 people), the City of Gold Coast in Queensland recorded the second largest increase in population of all LGAs (up 16,100 people). In New South Wales, the largest increases in coastal population occurred in Tweed (up 2,100 people), Hastings (up 1,400 people) and Port Stephens (up 1,300 people). In Victoria, Bass Coast (up 960 people) and Surf Coast (up 550 people) had the largest gains. Western Australia also experienced continuing strong growth with the coastal regions of Mandurah (up 3,600 people), and Busselton (up 700 people) increasing.

The inland regional centres of NSW LGAs Maitland and Queanbeyan (up 1,200 and 1,100 people respectively), the statistical district of Albury-Wodonga (up 1,200 people) on the New South Wales/Victorian border, and the Victorian LGAs of Greater Bendigo and Ballarat (up 1,500 and 1,400 people respectively) all continued to gain population.

For more information please contact Victoria Smith on (02) 6252 7883 or


Net overseas migration (NOM) currently accounts for around half of Australia's population growth. The ABS estimates the level of NOM using data on incoming (i.e. arriving) and outgoing (i.e. departing) passenger movements at Australian air and sea ports.

Conceptually, NOM is the difference between permanent and long-term arrivals, and permanent and long-term departures. In practice, however, a number of adjustments are applied to overseas arrivals and departures data to produce estimates of NOM. These mainly comprise adjustments designed to reflect differences between stated travel intentions and actual travel behaviour, but also include adjustments to transform numbers of overseas movements into numbers of travellers. Until recently, adjustments used by the ABS to estimate NOM were referred to as 'category jumping adjustment'. They are now referred to more simply as 'migration adjustments'.

A Technical Note: Measuring Net Overseas Migration has been introduced from the September 2003 issue of Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0). This Note will be updated in each issue of 3101.0 to reflect the latest available data and outlines how the ABS calculates NOM estimates by state and territory, including adjustments made to overcome some limitations of existing migration data.


People born overseas increased Australia's population by 250,000 over the five years to 30 June 2002. The percentage of people born overseas remained constant at 23% of the population. After the United Kingdom (with 1.1 million people or 6% of Australia's population in 2002) the next largest country of birth groups were New Zealand (414,000 people or 2% of Australia's population), Italy (235,000 or 1.2%), Viet Nam (172,000 or 0.9%) and China (165,000 or 0.8%). New Zealanders (90,000 people), Chinese (33,000 people), South Africans (29,000 people) and Indians (23,000 people) added the largest numbers of people to Australia's population in the same five year period.

People born in Iraq and South Africa were the fastest growing groups in Australia's population over the same period (9% and 8% a year on average respectively). However, the Iraq-borns' rapid growth was partly as a result of starting from a small base (19,100 in 1997). People born in the United Kingdom continue to make up the largest percentage of overseas-born people, but this figure has declined by 0.6% per year over the five year period. Meanwhile, the Australian population born in Southern and Eastern Europe declined 38,000 (down 0.9% a year on average) and North-West Europe declined 37,000 (down 0.5% a year on average).

Net overseas migration continues to become more important to Australia's population growth, with more than half of annual growth coming from migration (125,300 people in 2002-03). While there were 11% more settlers arriving in Australia from 2001-02 to 2002-03, permanent departures also increased by 10%. There is a continuing trend toward Australian-born people leaving permanently, this comprised around half of all permanent departures since 1998-99.

For more information see
Migration, Australia 2002-03 (cat. no. 3412.0), or contact Ian Appleby on (02) 6252 6141 or


An update on the compilation and dissemination of 2002 divorces and 2003 marriages is available on the ABS website. It can be accessed by going to Themes, Demography, Marriages and Divorces. Alternatively please use this weblink:

Status Report on the Compilation and Dissemination of Marriages and Divorces Statistics

This brief will be updated in late July 2004.

For more information please contact Olivia Agius on (02) 6252 6573 or


The 2001-2026 issue of Household and Family Projections, Australia, 2001-2026 (cat. no. 3236.0) was released on Friday 18 June. Some of the findings include:
  • The number of Australians living alone is projected to reach between 2.8 million and 3.7 million people by 2026, compared to 1.8 million Australians who were living alone in 2001.
  • Around one-quarter to one-third of all people living alone in 2026 (between 844,000 and 962,000 people) are projected to be older Australians (aged 75 years and over). Three-quarters of these older Australians are expected to be women.
  • Couple families without children are projected to increase the most rapidly of all types of families over the next 25 years, to between 2.9 and 3.3 million in 2026 (or between 41% and 49% of all families). In 2001, there were 1.9 million couple families without children (36% of all families). Couple families without children may overtake the number of couple families with children, in either 2010 or 2011.
  • The number of children of all ages living in two-parent families is projected to decrease to between 4.4 and 4.9 million in 2026 (from 5.0 million in 2001), while the number living with one parent is projected to increase to between 1.4 and 2.1 million in 2026 (up from 1.3 million children in 2001).
  • The number of Australian households is projected to increase by between 39% and 47% (to between 10.2 and 10.8 million, up from 7.4 million households in 2001). Average household size is projected to decline from 2.6 people per household in 2001 to between 2.2 and 2.3 people in 2026.


'Understanding Demographic Data,' the popular one-day course offered by ABS Demography, will be held in Sydney on 26 and 27 August 2004. To register contact, or (02) 9268 4194.

The course provides an understanding of demographic information produced and disseminated by the ABS and the processes which shape the population, and includes practical exercises in the analysis of demographic information. Key issues covered include:

  • Relationship of Census counts to Estimated Resident Population
  • Components of population growth: births; deaths; internal and overseas migration
  • How the ABS produces population estimates and projections, including for Indigenous people and small areas
  • The relevance of demographic data to society and the economy
  • Tools for demographic analysis, with practical exercises
  • Population dynamics such as population momentum, ageing and migration effects on the population profile.

Course notes and a copy of
Australian Demographic Statistics are provided. The cost per participant is $350, which includes a light lunch. A discount of $25 applies for those who register a month in advance.


ABS is pleased to support the 2004 Australian Population Association Conference as Principal Sponsor. The conference Population and Society: Issues, Research and Policy is being held in Canberra on 15-17 September 2004. The aims of this conference are to: provide an opportunity to present and discuss current and future population issues and their implications; stimulate discussion and debate about population policy futures; involve a wide range of individuals and organisations interested in population issues; encourage networking for those working on population matters; and provide support for young researchers and professionals.

Conference Registration is now open, for a copy of the registration brochure see the conference website: Early bird registration closes 23 July 2004. For more information on the Australian Population Association including membership visit the Association's website:

The 24th International Symposium on Forecasting to be held in Sydney from 4 to 7 July 2004 will include several demography papers. For registration details see the International Symposium on Forecasting website:

The ABS is also hosting the 55th Session of the International Statistical Institute (ISI) in Sydney from 5 to 12 April 2005. The conference will include an invited paper meeting on demographic forecasting and several other invited and contributed papers on demographic topics. Registration for ISI2004 opens on 5 July 2004. For more information including registration details see the ISI 2005 website


The ABS Demography section produces estimates of 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 on request. Statistics are also regularly produced on births, deaths, marriages, divorces, overseas arrivals and departures and internal migration. The Demography area also produces estimation benchmarks for population surveys conducted by the ABS. In addition to reporting on statistics, courses are conducted and an email newsletter is sent to national and international government and commonwealth agencies and other major clients, including the media and non-profit organisations.


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If you wish to discuss statistical issues, contacts are as outlined below. (02) 6252 6487 (02) 6252 6573
Migration - international and (02) 6252 6141
Overseas arrivals and (02) 6252 5640
Marriages and divorces - (02) 6252 7030
Marriages and divorces - (02) 6252 6573
Households and (02) 6252 6487
Indigenous - (02) 6252 6663
Indigenous - (02) 6252 5129
Population (02) 6252 6487
Population - general and (02) 6252 6557

Commonwealth of Australia 2008

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