4613.0 - Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends, 2007  
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POPULATION

    Population growth

    Australia’s preliminary estimated resident population was 20.9 million at March 2007, based on the first release of 2006 Census data.

    Since Federation in 1901, Australia's population has increased by 16.9 million. The graph above shows the growth in Australia's population since European settlement in 1788.

    The growth of 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 migration). For state and territory estimates net interstate migration is also included.

    The potential economic impacts of an ageing population make fertility rates of particular interest to policy makers and demographers. Since 1961, Australia’s total fertility rate (TFR) declined from 3.55 babies per woman to the historic low of 1.73 in 2001. Since then the fertility rate has trended upwards to 1.81 babies per woman in 2006, with the largest increases in fertility occurring in the most advantaged areas of Australia.

    Sustained periods of fertility well below the replacement level of 2.1 babies per woman are one of the drivers of population ageing. The decline in the TFR has been closely associated with the tendency for women to have their babies at older ages. The median age of all women who gave birth in 1995 was 29.1 years; by 2006 this had increased to 30.8 years. This is the highest median age on record. Delaying childbearing reduces the remaining length of time in which women can have babies, generally leading to fewer babies per woman and an increased level of childlessness (Endnote 1).

    Depending on assumptions about future levels of fertility, mortality and overseas migration, future projections indicate that Australia’s population could range between 25 and 33 million people by the year 2051.

    Population growth
    Graph: Population growth
    Note: 2007 figure is at March 2007.
    Source: ABS, Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2006 (cat. no. 3105.0.65.001);
    Australian Demographic Statistics, March Quarter 2007 (cat. no. 3101.0).

    Population change

    All states and territories experienced population growth in the five years to June 2006. The three most populous states recorded the largest population growth in the five-year period to June 2006. Queensland experienced the largest growth (462,600 people), followed by Victoria (323,600) and New South Wales (242,000).

    Capital city Statistical Divisions (SDs) were home to over 13 million people, around two-thirds (64%) of Australia’s population.

    In the five years to June 2006, Melbourne SD recorded the largest growth of all capital cities, increasing by 272,700 people. Brisbane SD recorded the second largest growth, increasing by 191,300 people, followed by Sydney SD (up 156,100) and Perth SD (up 126,500).

    The fastest growing capital city from June 2001 to June 2006 was Brisbane SD, with an average annual growth rate of 2.2%. Next was Perth SD at 1.8% a year.

    Capital city growth outpaced growth in the state balances (i.e. the rest of the state) in all states and territories except Queensland and South Australia in the five years to June 2006. However, growth in the balance of New South Wales almost equalled that of Sydney SD.

    Generally, outside capital cities, coastal Australia experienced the strongest growth. Many Queensland coastal areas saw large growth in the five year period. Urban coastal development causes loss of habitat for native flora and fauna and places pressure on resources such as water supply.

    Population change, Statistical Local Area
    Map of Australia, Population change, Statistical Local Area
    Source: ABS, Regional Population Growth, 2005–06 (cat. no. 3218.0).


    Population age and sex structure

    The age structure of Australia’s population has changed significantly over the past century.

    The graph below shows the proportions of the population by age and sex in 1986 and estimated figures for 2006, illustrating the ageing of Australia’s population.

    Between 30 June 1986 and 30 June 2006, the proportion of the population aged 0–14 years decreased by 3.8 percentage points from 23.1% to 19.3%. During the same period, the proportion of the population aged 15–64 years increased from 66.4% to 67.4%.

    The ageing of Australia’s population changes consumption patterns, influencing the quantity and quality of resources used and waste generated by the community. For example, expenditure on personal travel is increasing and transport is associated with the production of greenhouse gas emissions.

    In 2006, the age with the most number of people in Australia was 35 years, with 324,200 people. This corresponds to children born during the baby boom echo in the early 1970s. The year 1971–72 had the most number of births recorded in Australia.

    The balance between men and women has also changed. In 1901, there were 110 men for every 100 women (in part due to the relatively high proportion of Australian immigrants who were male). This balance has changed. In 2006, there were 98.8 men for every 100 women.

    Population age and sex structure

    Graph:Population age and sex structure
    Source: ABS, Population by Age and Sex, Australian States and Territories, June 2006 (cat. no. 3201.0).

    Selected population indicators, 2006

    The major cities of Australia were home to 13.6 million people or two-thirds of Australia’s population in 2006. In contrast, just 506,000 people, or 2.5% of the total population lived in remote or very remote areas of Australia.

    The tables below show population growth and decline from both natural increase and people moving into cities and coastal areas, and out of rural and remote areas. The movement of people to coastal areas is linked to a number of factors, including tourism development and retirees relocating. The concentration of people in coastal areas of south-eastern Australia has resulted in relatively high rates of land clearing for urban development. This has caused loss of habitat for native plants and animals, reducing their numbers and geographical spread. Urban developments also need landfill sites and water and sewerage services, all of which can affect the environment.

    Regions of greatest development are:
    • Hervey Bay to Byron Bay (south Qld to north NSW)
    • Newcastle to Wollongong (NSW)
    • Port Phillip region (Vic.)
    • City of Wanneroo to City of Mandurah (north Perth to south Perth) (Endnote 2).

    SELECTED POPULATION INDICATORS, 2006
    Major
    Cities
    Inner
    Regional
    Outer
    Regional
    Remote
    Very
    Remote
    Australia

    Population ('000 persons)
    13,636
    4,359
    2,097
    328
    182
    20,602
    Share of total population (%)
    66.2
    21.2
    10.2
    1.6
    0.9
    100.0
    Area ('000 km2)
    14
    220
    803
    1,021
    5,646
    7,704
    Population density (persons/km2)
    950.2
    19.8
    2.6
    0.3
    2.7
    People living in same state/territory between 1996 and 2001 (%)
    96
    96
    96
    94
    91
    95

    Source: ABS Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2005–06, (cat. no. 3218.0). Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics, About Australia’s Regions, 2007.
    Note: Population estimates for 2006 are preliminary.


    POPULATION GROWTH BY STATE/TERRITORY AND REMOTENESS AREA, 2001 TO 2006
    Major Cities
    Inner Regional
    Outer Regional
    Remote
    Very Remote
    Total
    %
    %
    %
    %
    %
    %

    NSW
    4
    4
    1
    -2
    -2
    4
    Vic.
    6
    8
    3
    -3
    nr(a)
    6
    Qld
    12
    13
    9
    4
    1
    12
    SA
    3
    8
    0
    3
    -9
    3
    WA
    8
    18
    1
    -2
    4
    8
    Tas.
    nr(a)
    4
    3
    0
    -6
    4
    NT
    nr(a)
    nr(a)
    7
    1
    2
    5
    ACT
    3
    -2
    nr(a)
    nr(a)
    nr(a)
    3
    Aust.
    6
    8
    4
    1
    1
    6

    Note: Estimates for 2006 are preliminary. Figures are total percentage growth over the period 2001–2006.
    (a) For the purpose of the ABS Remoteness Structure, there are no regions in this category for this state or territory.
    Source: ABS Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2005–06 (cat. no. 3218.0). Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics, About Australia’s Regions, 2007.Population, states and territories

    The proportion of Australia’s population resident in each state and territory has changed over time, as shown in the table below.

    Between 1957 and March 2007, the proportion of the Australian population living in New South Wales fell (from 37.6% to 32.8%). Other states that have experienced decreases are Victoria (27.6% to 24.8%), South Australia (9.1% to 7.5%) and Tasmania (3.4% to 2.4%).

    The proportion of the population living in other states has increased: Queensland (14.7% to 19.9%), Western Australia (7.1% to 10.0%), the Northern Territory (0.2% to 1.0%), and the Australian Capital Territory (0.4% to 1.6%).

    Queensland's average annual growth rate over the five years to June 2006 was the fastest in Australia, at 2.4%.

    POPULATION, STATES AND TERRITORIES
    30 June
    NSW
    Vic.
    Qld
    SA
    WA
    Tas.
    NT
    ACT
    Aust. (a)
    '000
    '000
    '000
    '000
    '000
    '000
    '000
    '000
    '000

    1957
    3 625.0
    2 656.3
    1 413.1
    873.2
    687.6
    326.1
    21.1
    37.9
    9 640.1
    1967
    4 295.2
    3 274.3
    1 700.0
    1 109.8
    879.2
    375.2
    61.8
    103.5
    11 799.1
    1977
    5 001.9
    3 837.4
    2 129.8
    1 286.1
    1 204.4
    415.0
    103.9
    213.7
    14 192.2
    1987
    5 616.7
    4 210.1
    2 675.1
    1 392.8
    1 392.8
    449.2
    158.2
    265.5
    16 263.9
    1997
    6 277.0
    4 597.2
    3 394.7
    1 481.4
    1 795.0
    473.6
    186.9
    309.0
    18 517.6
    2001
    6 606.0
    4 833.6
    3 671.8
    1 516.7
    1 913.8
    472.3
    198.4
    320.8
    19 535.1
    2002
    6 651.3
    4 893.2
    3 764.9
    1 525.9
    1 937.0
    474.9
    199.4
    324.2
    19 773.3
    2003
    6 691.3
    4 953.3
    3 857.6
    1 536.3
    1 967.3
    480.8
    200.7
    326.1
    20 015.8
    2004
    6 731.2
    5 015.7
    3 947.0
    1 545.0
    1 998.1
    484.7
    203.9
    328.2
    20 257.1
    2005
    6 787.9
    5 087.2
    4 045.1
    1 559.6
    2 036.8
    488.5
    208.5
    332.5
    20 548.4
    2006 (b)
    6 855.2
    5 165.4
    4 132.0
    1 575.7
    2 081.0
    491.7
    212.6
    336.5
    20 852.4
    2007 (b)(c)
    6 875.7
    5 188.1
    4 162.0
    1 581.4
    2 094.5
    492.7
    213.8
    338.1
    20 948.9

    (a) From September quarter 1993, includes Other Territories comprising Jervis Bay Territory, Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Prior to September quarter 1993, the ACT included Jervis Bay Territory, and Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands were not included.
    (b) Estimated resident population for September 2006 onwards is preliminary.
    (c) Estimated resident population for March 2007.
    Source: ABS, Historical Population Statistics, 2006 (cat. no. 3105.0.65.001); Australian Demographic Statistics, March Quarter 2007 (cat. no. 3101.0).
    Endnotes
    1. Weston, R 2004, ‘Having children or not’, Family Matters, no. 69, pp.4-9. <back
    2. 2006 Australian State of the Environment Committee, Australia State of the Environment 2006, Department of the Environment and Heritage, Canberra. <back

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