Population Estimates, National, State and Territory

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

    As from 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). From 1971 it was decided to define it 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 based 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.

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

    For more information see 3228.0.55.001 - Population Estimates: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2009


    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 (Federal Financial Relations Act 2009) 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 benchmarks derived from 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 diplomatic personnel of overseas governments.

    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 Post-Enumeration Survey and demographic analysis.
    • Australian residents temporarily overseas on census night are added to the population.


    Conceptual framework
    See 3228.0.55.001 - Population Estimates: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2009

    Main outputs

    • State and Territory estimates by sex are produced and published quarterly.
    • State and Territory estimates by single year of age and sex are produced quarterly and published annually as at 30 June.
    • Estimates by country of birth by sex and 5-year age group are produced at the national level only from 30 June 1992. Commencing with 1996 these estimates are also produced at the State level for census years.
    • Population estimates for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population are produced following each census, as at 30 June each year for the previous intercensal period.

    Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS)
    Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC)

    Other concepts (summary)

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Northern Territory
    Statistical Local Area
    Census Collection District
    Part of State Metropolitan
    Part of State Extra-Metropolitan
    CD Derived Postcode

    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 frequency at sub-state level, birthplace, marital status and 5 yearly for experimental Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population

    1921 - Introduction of annual estimates by single year of age and sex for Australia
    1961 - Estimates by single year of age and sex for States and Territories introduced.
    1971 - Change in concept of what constitutes 'population', from all those counted (including overseas tourists and excluding Australian residents temporarily overseas) to a 'usual resident' basis.
    July 1976 - Category jumping included as part of net overseas migration.
    September quarter 1993 - estimates for Cocos(Keeling) and Christmas Islands first compiled.


    Data availability comments

    27/10/2014 09:59 AM