Population statistics measure the size, growth, composition and geographic distribution of the population, as well as the components that shape population change - births, deaths and migration. Population statistics underpin discussion on a wide range of topical issues, including dynamics in family structures, fertility, ageing and migration. Statistics on population trends assist governments in developing social and economic policies in areas such as health, education, housing, the labour market, and the environment.
There are important legislative requirements for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to produce population estimates. The legislation which determines the distribution of state, territory and local government grants uses the ABS population estimates as one of the bases for calculation. Population estimates are also used to determine the number of seats each state and territory is entitled to in the House of Representatives.
The Census of Population and Housing, which has been held every five years since 1961, is the primary source of information on Australia's population. The most recent Census was conducted in August 2006.
This chapter contains the article Characteristics of the Population.