Population Estimates, Sub-state

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

    In 1982 and backdated to 1971, an important change was made to the concept of what constitutes the 'population'. It had been the practice to define the population as the number of people actually present at a given time (at the census this meant the number of people actually counted and therefore included foreign tourists but excluded Australians abroad). It was decided to define the population as the number of 'residents' i.e. people who usually reside in Australia. Likewise the population of the States and Territories was to be the number of people who usually reside in those States/Territories. And so on, for cities, local government areas etc. The current population estimates, therefore, are the estimated numbers of Australian residents i.e. people who usually reside in Australia.

    They are based on usual resident census counts and account is taken of the net census undercount and Australian residents who were temporarily overseas on census night.

    These population estimates, and the regular updates of them have been adopted as the official population series.

    Sub-state population estimates are prepared for Statistical Areas Level 2 to 4 (SA2s - SA4s), Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSAs) and Local Government Areas (LGAs).

    All usual residents of Australia, except foreign diplomatic personnel and their families.

    For more information see 3228.0.55.001 - Population Estimates: Concepts, Sources and Methods


    Population estimates are used by Governments in policy formulation, particularly those policies relating to service delivery. Estimates are also used to monitor existing Government programs. Population estimates are used in determining the number of seats in each State/Territory in the House of Representatives (Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918). They are also used in the allocation of Commonwealth funds for general financial assistance and hospital funding purposes, both for State/Territory governments (A New Tax System (Commonwealth-State Financial Arrangements) Act 1999 and Medicare agreements) and local governments (Local Government (Financial Assistance) Act 1995).

    Population estimates are widely used in the private sector for use in market research and academic/demographic research.

    Many statistical indices and rates have a population estimate as their denominator.

    Population estimates are used to weight many ABS surveys.

    Scope: The scope of the collection includes all persons who usually reside in Australia except for foreign diplomatic personnel and their families.

    Coverage: The scope has been fully included in the collection by basing all population estimates on the results of the Census of Population and Housing, with the following adjustments:

    • Usual resident census counts are adjusted for net undercount as measured by the Census Post Enumeration Survey and demographic analysis.
    • Australian residents temporarily overseas on census night are added to the population.


    Conceptual framework
    See Population Estimates: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 3228.0.55.001) and Information Paper: Population Concepts, 2008 (cat. no. 3107.0.55.006).

    Main outputs

    • SA2 and LGA population estimates are produced and published annually as at 30 June.
    • SA2 and LGA population estimates by sex and five-year age groups are produced and published annually as at 30 June.
    • SA2 and LGA population estimates by sex and single year of age are produced annually, and available upon request.

    Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS)

    Other concepts (summary)

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Northern Territory
    Statistical Division
    Statistical Subdivision
    Statistical Local Area
    Census Collection District
    Legal Local Government Area
    Statistical District
    Part of State Metropolitan
    Part of State Extra-Metropolitan
    CD Derived Postcode
    Capital City Statistical Division

    Comments and/or Other Regions
    Census Collection District (CD) and CD-Derived Postcode areas are non-standard.

    Prior to September quarter 1993 Jervis Bay Territory included as part of the Australian Capital Territory. From September quarter 1993 separate estimates for Jervis Bay available, estimates for Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island also available.


    Frequency comments

    Annual population estimates for LGAs and/or SLAs have been published (not necessarily by the Australian Bureau of Statistics) for Victoria since 1875, New South Wales and Queensland since 1911, South Australia since 1915, Tasmania since 1923, Western Australia since 1926, the Australian Capital Territory since 1968 and the Northern Territory since 1981.

    Population estimates based on the concept of "usual residence" have been produced for LGAs and/or SLAs since 1976. Prior to this, LGA population figures were calculated on the "actual location" concept - that is, based on the number of persons actually present at that location at the given time (ABS 1983). Estimates based on actual location are generally higher in areas which attract short-term migrants, such as tourist areas.

    Population estimates for SLAs have not been produced since 2011, as the ABS introduced a new statistical geography in July 2011 - the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS). Under the ASGS, population estimates for 2012 onwards are produced for Statistical Areas Level 2 (SA2s) and LGAs.

    SA2 populations are calculated to add to the independently and previously derived state and territory population estimates.


    Data availability comments

    24/03/2014 02:15 PM