1338.1 - NSW State and Regional Indicators, Sep 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/10/2009   
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Almost one in three Australians live in NSW. At June 2008, the NSW population reached 6.98 million people, an increase of 79,200 people (1.1%) since June 2007. The largest component of this population growth was net overseas migration. For 2007-08, NSW net overseas migration was 61,300 people, though this was 17% lower than for the previous year. Natural increase (births minus deaths) accounted for a further growth of 39,900 people, slightly lower in 2007-08 than in the previous two years. During the same period, NSW recorded a net loss of 21,900 people to other states and territories, the lowest net migration loss since 2000-01.


NSW's population is predominantly urban, with 63% (4.4 million people) living in the Sydney Statistical Division (SD). A further 20% (1.38 million people) were located in other coastal Local Government Areas (LGAs). This reflects people's preference for living in major urban and coastal areas.

NSW also has an ageing population. The proportion of the population aged 65 years or older continues to expand as more 'baby boomers' enter their retirement years. At June 2008, nearly 14% (962,800) of the NSW population were aged 65 years or over, an increase of nearly one percentage point since 1998. The median age of the population of NSW has also continued to increase. At June 2008, the median age for people in NSW was 37.1 years, an increase of 1.9 years in the last decade.


NSW remains the most popular state for overseas migration. According to Department of Immigration and Citizenship data, almost a third (43,500 persons) of all settler arrivals to Australia (149,400) in 2007-08 nominated NSW as their intended state of residence. The current national immigration program has three Streams - Skill, Family and Humanitarian. In 2007-08, settlers under the combined Streams accounted for 83% (36,200 persons) of all settler arrivals to NSW. The remaining 17% were through non-program migration (7,300 persons), nearly all of whom were New Zealand citizens.

In the last decade, the highest proportion of settlers in each year arrived under the Skill Stream. In 2003-04, 44% of all settler arrivals to NSW were through the Skill Stream; in 2007-08 this had declined to 40%. As a proportion of total settler arrivals to NSW, the Family Stream increased from 31% in 2003-04 to 37% in 2007-08. Total settler arrivals to NSW under the Humanitarian Migration Program decreased from 8.6% in 2003-04 to 6.9% in 2007-08.

6.2 SETTLER ARRIVALS, By Eligibility category(a)(b), NSW
Graph: 6.2 SETTLER ARRIVALS, By Eligibility category(a)(b), NSW


Due to a range of factors, including medical advances and changes in individual behaviours, Australians are experiencing longer life expectancy and lower overall death rates. In the last thirty years, the indirect standardised death rate for NSW has almost halved: from 11.1 deaths per 1,000 standard population in 1977 to 6.0 in 2007. The death rate for 2007 in NSW was the lowest in the last six years.

Mortality levels, measured by standardised death rates, differ across NSW. The Sydney Statistical Division (SD) represents around 63% of the NSW population and in 2007 recorded the lowest standardised death rate in NSW (5.7 deaths per 1,000 people). The next lowest rates were recorded in the coastal SDs of Illawarra and Richmond-Tweed (both 6.0). The inland SDs Far West (7.3), Central West and North Western (both 7.2) had the highest standardised death rates in NSW.

Similarily, mortality differences occur across the 14 Statistical Subdivisions (SSDs) within the Sydney SD. The lowest standardised death rates within the Sydney SD were recorded in the SSDs of Central Northern Sydney (4.9) and Lower Northern Sydney (5.1). Blacktown SSD (6.6) in western Sydney and Gosford-Wyong SSD (6.5) on the central coast recorded the highest death rates. In 2007 the Sydney SSDs with the highest median age at death were Central Northern Sydney, Northern Beaches and Lower Northern Sydney (all almost 84 years). The Blacktown SSD recorded the lowest median age of 76 years.


Understanding how the NSW population size and composition will change in the future is crucial to making informed planning and policy decisions. The ABS use indicators of population change such as migration, fertility and life expectancy to create projections of the future population. Although we cannot predict with certainty how these indicators will change into the future, we can model or project population growth and change, using a range of assumptions about these indicators.

The ABS produces 72 sets of projections based on different combinations of indicator assumptions. This allows various population scenarios to be investigated. From these, three main series are published: Series A, B and C. Series B largely reflects current trends in fertility, life expectancy at birth, net overseas migration and net interstate migration, whereas Series A and Series C are based on high and low assumptions for each of these variables respectively.

In 2006 the NSW population was 6.8 million, by 2036 this is projected to grow to between 8.6 million (Series C) and 9.7 million (Series A). In the same period, the population of Sydney is projected to rise from 4.3 million to between 5.8 million (Series C) and 6.2 million (Series A), and the Balance of NSW from 2.5 million to between 2.8 million (Series C) and 3.5 million (Series A).

6.3 Projected Population(a), NSW
Graph: 6.3 Projected Population(a), NSW

The ageing of the NSW population is projected to continue in the future. Increasing our understanding about the extent of population ageing allows NSW to plan and prepare for the future needs of an older population. Based upon Series B assumptions, in the 30 years to 2036 the number of people aged 65 years and over is projected to double to nearly 2 million people. The proportion of the population aged 65 years and over is projected to rise from 14% in 2006 to 21% (Series B) in 2036. Over the same time the proportion of working age people (aged between 15 and 64 years) is projected to decline from nearly 67% of the population in 2006 to 62% (Series B) in 2036. As a result, the ratio of working age people to those aged 65 years and over would decline from 5 to 1 in 2006 to less than 3 to 1 in 2036.

Diagram: 6.4 Population projections for NSW


Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0)

Australian Historical Population Statistics (cat. no. 3105.0.65.001)

Births, Australia (cat. no. 3301.0)

Census of Population and Housing

Deaths, Australia (cat. no. 3302.0)

Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC)

Experimental Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (cat. no. 3238.0.55.001)

Migration, Australia (cat. no. 3412.0)

Population by Age and Sex, Australian States and Territories (cat. no. 3201.0)

Population by Age and Sex, Regions of Australia (cat. no. 3235.0)

Population Projections, Australia, 2006-2101 (cat. no. 3222.0)

Regional Population Growth, Australia (cat. no. 3218.0)


New South Wales State and Regional Population Projections: 2008 Release, NSW Department of Planning

NSW Population Hits 7 Million: Release of the Latest ERP