Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate this page
ABS Home
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
Newsletters - Demography News - December 1999

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

Happy Christmas!

The ABS Demography Program wishes you a happy and peaceful Christmas/New Year and that you come back refreshed for an interesting year.

2 Living alone to become more common

Among the key results in a new publication Household and Family Projections, Australia, 1996-2021 (ABS Catalogue No. 3236.0), are that

  • by 2021 the number of Australians living alone is projected to increase to between 1 in 7 and 1 in 9. In 1996 the figure was 1 in 12.

  • 20% to 24% of people living alone in 2021 are projected to be aged 75 years and over and of these about three-quarters will be women.

  • the number of children living with one parent is projected to be between 1.1 million and 1.9 million by 2021. Almost one-third (31%) of 0-4 year olds could be living with one parent by 2021.

  • of all family types, couple families without children are projected to increase most rapidly over the period 1996-2021, reflecting the ageing of the baby boomers as they become 'empty nesters'.

3 Parliamentary representation

Preliminary June 1999 State and Territory resident population estimates released in Australian Demographic Statistics, June Quarter 1999 (Cat. No. 3101.0) on 8 December 1999 will be the basis for a determination by the Electoral Commissioner of the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in States and Territories. The Australian constitution specifies that the number of members in the House of Representatives 'chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people'.

Preliminary Statistical Local Area resident population estimates at June 1999 are due for release on 8 February 2000 in Regional Population Growth, Australia, 1998-99 (Cat. No. 3218.0).

4 Australia's older population - past, present and future

The proportion of the Australian population aged 65 years and over (the older population) has grown steadily during the 20th century and it is projected to grow further during the 21st century. In 1901 there were 151 thousand people aged 65 years and over living in Australia, comprising 4% of the total Australian population. By 1998 this number increased to 2.3 million or 12% of the total population. It is projected that by 2051 the older population would have grown to between 6 million and 6.3 million or around one-quarter (24%-26%) of the projected total population of Australia.

The majority of Australians live within 50 kilometres of the coastline, but older people are likely to live closer to the coast. In 1996, 32% of people aged 65 years and over lived within five kilometres of the coast. In comparison, 25% of Australians aged 0-64 lived within five kilometres of the coast.

Further information is available in Australian Demographic Statistics, June Quarter 1999 (Cat. No. 3101.0) released on 8 December 1999 and the publication Older People, Australia: A Social Report, 1999 (Cat. No. 4109.0) scheduled for release on 15 December 1999.

5 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population issues

In 1998, fertility of Indigenous women is estimated to average at least 2.2 babies per woman compared with an average of 1.76 babies for all women. Indigenous babies were lighter, with an average birth weight of 3,140 grams compared to 3,360 grams for all babies.

Indigenous Australians had a death rate at least three times higher than that of the total population in 1998. The average age at death for Indigenous people was 50 years, 27 years less than the average age for all deaths.

For more information see Births, Australia, 1998 (Cat. No. 3301.0) and Deaths, Australia, 1998 (Cat. No. 3302.0).

6 Deaths

Australian life expectancy continues to increase with life expectancy at birth being 75.9 years for males and 81.5 years for females during 1996-98. Internationally, Australia's life expectancy ranks behind Japan, Sweden, Canada and Switzerland (lower by up to three years), is about the same as France and Spain, and is one year higher than New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

In the last 10 years, death rates have fallen for males and females in most age groups. The notable exception was a small increase in death rates for males aged 30-39 years.

Reflecting a decline in the death rates from all causes, the average age at death has been rising. In 1998, the age by which 50% of total deaths occurred (median age) was 77 years, compared to 75 years 10 years ago.

In 1998 people aged 25-44 years again had the highest suicide death rate (23 deaths per 100,000 people in this age group). This represents an increase over the 17 deaths per 100,000 people recorded for this age group in 1989. The rate for 15-24 age group has also increased over this period, from 14 to 17 deaths per 100,000 people aged 15-24. However, suicide represents a higher proportion of all deaths among those aged 15-24 (25%) than those aged 25-44 (20%).

The 1998 infant mortality rate was the lowest ever in Australia for the second consecutive year, with 5.0 deaths per 1,000 live births. There were 2,090 perinatal deaths (still births and deaths of children within 28 days of birth) in 1998, 10% lower than in the previous year (2321).

See Deaths, Australia 1998 (Cat. No. 3302.0) and Causes of Death, Australia 1998 (Cat. No. 3303.0) for more detail.

7 Changes in fertility

In 1998 the average number of births per woman was 1.76, well below 2.1, the level needed for a woman to replace herself and her partner. Australia's fertility has been below replacement level since 1976. Currently, it is lower than that of the United States of America (2.0) and New Zealand (2.0), at much the same level as in the United Kingdom (1.7), and above the levels of Canada (1.5), Germany (1.3), Italy (1.2) and Spain (1.1).

The peak age of fertility is 25-29 years but the birthrate in this age group is declining relatively quickly. In contrast, birthrates of women aged 35 years and over continued their upward trend and in 1998 these women contributed 15% to total fertility, compared to 10% in 1988.

For more detail see Births, Australia 1998 (Cat. No. 3301.0).

8 Service population

The increasingly mobile nature of the Australian population has created a growing demand for Local Government Authority (LGA) 'service population' estimates that take into account the temporary residents and visitors for whom services are provided. The 'service population' may include fly-in/fly-out workers, short-term contract workers, tourists and other overnight visitors, as well as commuters and other day visitors to the LGA. An ABS pilot study has reported on the feasibility of producing service population estimates for specified LGAs in Western Australia. The study investigated existing data sources and included an assessment of their applicability and availability for estimating the service populations of a range of LGAs with different characteristics. For further information see Demography Working Paper 99/3 - Service Population Pilot Study. An Investigation to Assess the Feasibility of Producing Service Population Estimates for Selected LGAs available on the ABS web site at by accessing Themes/Demography.

9 Working papers

1999 ABS Demography working papers are outlined below. They are available on the ABS web site at by accessing Themes/Demography.

Demography Working Paper 99/1 - Projections of Households, Families and Living Arrangements
Demography Working Paper 99/2 - Estimating Interstate Migration, 1996 - 2001
Demography Working Paper 99/3 - Service Population Pilot Study. An Investigation to Assess the Feasibility of Producing Service Population Estimates for Selected LGAs.
Demography Working Paper 99/4 - Measuring Census Undercount in Australia and New Zealand

10 Postcode to Statistical Local Area concordances

The ABS has developed several concordance products which enable users to convert data for one type of geographic region to another. The Postal Area to Statistical Local Area (SLA) 1996 concordance shows the conversion of population data from Postal Areas to SLA based on 1996 Population Census data (Cat. nos. 1253.0.15.001-1253.8.15.001).

Postcode to SLA concordances are updated annually. These concordances are derived by updating the 1996 Census-based concordances using more recent information, and assist the ABS in estimating the populations of SLAs. For further information on updated postcode to SLA concordances, contact the ABS Small Area Population Unit on (08) 8237 7370.

11 Demographic estimates and projections - concepts, sources and methods

Want a better understanding of why and how demographic estimates and projections are derived? Need information on the methods used by ABS to produce population estimates at the national, State and local area levels? Information is available via the Themes/Demography section of the ABS web site: There are additional sections on data sources, household estimates, population projections, census undercount and Indigenous population estimates. There is also a useful glossary of demographic terms.

12 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 population, families and households 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.

13 Key contacts

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

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 7612
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 6420
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

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.