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FEATURE ARTICLE: INTERSTATE DEPARTURES FROM SOUTH AUSTRALIA
The total number of people moving from South Australia has fluctuated between about 20,000 and 33,000 people each year over the last four decades. The numbers leaving South Australia for other states (i.e., interstate departures) were mainly at the lower end of this range in the early 1980s. Poor economic conditions and drought affected South Australia at this time, which may have changed migrants' preferred place of relocation. In the five years to 1986, movements between Statistical Divisions (SDs) within South Australia increased dramatically (up 24%) from the previous five-year period. In contrast, the number of interstate departures decreased.
There was also a national decrease in total interstate departures between 1981-82 and 1982-83 (down 14%). In 1983-84, the number of South Australians who migrated to another state was the lowest on record (20,600 people). The number of departures increased over the remainder of the 1980s, and peaked in 1996-97, when a record-high 32,600 South Australians moved interstate.
The number of people leaving South Australia generally declined from 1996-97 to 2005-06, coinciding with a period of continuous economic growth. A twenty-year low was recorded in 2005-06, when 25,600 South Australians moved interstate.
WHO IS LEAVING SOUTH AUSTRALIA?
South Australia's migrating population creates many issues for the state, including less people in the workforce and lower fertility rates. The State Population Policy outlines strategies for population growth and renewal, including "reducing the net outflow of young and skilled people" (Government of South Australia, 2004)
People in the 20-39 year-old age bracket have accounted for a substantial proportion of all South Australian departures (over 44% in each year from 1971-72 to 2008-09). Their departure to another state/territory represents a major loss to the South Australian labour force and to the growth of South Australia's population, as these migrants are of a child-bearing age.
People aged 20-39 years accounted for 47% of all interstate movers in 2008-09, while comprising 27% of the total South Australian population. The 0-9 year age group accounted for 14% of interstate departures and 12% of the population in 2008-09. It is likely that children of this age will move with their parents, and hence departures for 0-9 and 20-39 year-olds display similar trends.
It is well documented that South Australia has an ageing population. In the twenty years to June 2009, the proportion of 20-39 year-olds has decreased from 32% to 27% whilst the proportion of the population aged 40-59 years has increased from 22% to 27%.
As the number of South Australians aged 40-59 years has increased in recent years, there has been a rise in interstate departures for this age group. Just under 1% of this group migrated to other states/territories each year during the 1970s and early 1980s. This proportion generally increased to 2002-03, before dropping to 1.2% in 2008-09. This indicates that recently, South Australia is retaining a larger proportion of older, working age adults.
The proportion of 20-39 year-olds who migrate interstate has fluctuated over the last four decades. This proportion increased in the early 1990s, and peaked in 1995-96 (at 3.7%). This underlines the effect of economic events, such as growth and recession, on the migration patterns of young adults.
More males than females have departed South Australia for interstate destinations over the last four decades. The sex ratio (number of males per 100 females) for interstate departures has been above 100 in all but four financial years since 1971-72. This is despite South Australia's population comprising more females than males.
The interstate departure sex ratio for all people generally decreased in the twenty years to 2005-06. This trend reversed in 2006-07, when the ratio increased to 102. The main driver in this increase was the 20-39 age group. The interstate departure sex ratio for this age group increased by 7% in 2006-07, and exceeded 100 for the first time in nine years.
ORIGIN OF INTERSTATE MIGRANT DEPARTURES
The Adelaide Statistical Division (SD) is the most populated in South Australia and between the 2001 and 2006 Census it recorded the highest number of departures (41,000 people). The SDs with the most departures outside of Adelaide were Outer Adelaide (4,100 people) and Northern (3,800). The Eyre SD had the lowest number of departures from 2001 to 2006 (1,200 people).
Compared to other SDs, the South East lost the highest proportion of its 'Census' population (5.6%) due to interstate departures between 2001 and 2006. The Northern and Murray Lands SDs lost the next highest proportions (5.0% and 3.9% respectively). Higher interstate departure rates could be expected for these three SDs, given that they border other states.
(a) Interstate departures in proportion to 2006 Census count.
Source: Census of Population and Housing, 2006
DESTINATION OF INTERSTATE MIGRANT DEPARTURES
New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have generally been the most popular destinations for South Australians who move interstate. Of these three states, Queensland was the least popular destination for 1971-76, but the most popular for 2001-06. Over this period of time, there was a decline in interstate departures (as a proportion of total departures) to New South Wales, while departures to Victoria were relatively steady.
Of the South Australians who migrated to another state/territory between 2001 and 2006, the greatest proportions moved to capital city SDs. The most popular city was Melbourne, followed by Brisbane, Sydney and Perth. More than half (53%) of all South Australians moving to these capital cities were aged 20-39 years, with the highest proportion (17%) aged 25-29 years.
The most popular non capital city destination for interstate migrants from South Australia was the Gold Coast, followed by the Northern Territory - Balance SD and the Far North SD in Queensland. These SDs attracted a number of elderly adults. In particular, more 60-79 year-old South Australians moved to the Gold Coast SD (300 people) between 2001 and 2006 than most capital city SDs (excluding Brisbane and Melbourne). Overall, Queensland attracted more 40-59 and 60-79 year-olds than any other state in the five years to 2006.
The issue of South Australia's loss of population due to interstate migration has attracted attention in some of the state's key planning documents. Highlighted in these plans is the importance of reducing net outflow and retaining "young and skilled people" (Government of South Australia 2004). The analysis of interstate migration data in this article reveals that the number of South Australians moving interstate hit a twenty-year low in 2005-06, and was up slightly from this level in 2008-09. The proportion of working-age adults leaving the state has also generally decreased over the last few years.
Generally, more males move interstate from South Australia than females. However, for 20-39 year-olds, more females departed the state than males in the eight years to 2005-06. This trend has reversed, with young males again driving the interstate departure sex ratio back above 100 in the years that followed.
Further analysis of Census data shows that the South East and Northern SDs experienced the highest loss of people due to interstate departures from 2001-06. Queensland has become the most popular destination for South Australians who move interstate, and is attracting older migrants. Young adults who migrate interstate are choosing to live in capital cities.
ABS, Census of Population and Housing, 2006
ABS 2009, Migration, Australia, 2007-08 (cat. no. 3412.0)
ABS 2010, Australian Demographic Statistics, Jun 2009 (cat. no. 3101.0)
Government of South Australia 2004, Prosperity Through People - A Population Policy for South Australia
Government of South Australia 2007, South Australia's Strategic Plan 2007
South Australian Centre for Economic Studies 2004, Economic Issues No. 8: 'Review of the South Australian Economy 1990-2003' M. O'Neil, P. Neal, A. T. Nguyen viewed 19 May 2010 http://www.adelaide.edu.au/saces/publications/issues/SAEconomy19902003EIP8.pdf
Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment 2006, Interstate Migration: At a Glance
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