1003.0 - ABS News for Libraries (Issue No. 59), Feb 2007  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/03/2007   
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How do I find the population of a region?

The ABS uses 3 main measures to count population in Australia.
It's important to understand the differences between them in order to find the right population figures for your purpose.

Population counts are produced by:
1. The Census of Population and Housing
2. Estimated Resident Populations (ERPs)
3. Population projections

Estimated Resident Populations (ERPs) are where you find official population estimates.

What are ERPs?
  • ERPs are derived from 5 yearly census counts, but are issued quarterly to provide up-to-date totals of the population of Australia, States and Territories.
  • Estimates are based on census counts by place of usual residence, to which are added the estimated net census undercount and Australian residents estimated to have been temporarily overseas at the time of the census. Overseas visitors are excluded.
  • ERPs include calculations of natural increase from births and deaths data, overseas migration data from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship;and interstate migration data from Medicare Australia.
  • This means that ERP data is more accurate and up-to-date than census data.

Where do I find ERP data?
Which regions have ERPs available?
  • Australia, States and Territories (quarterly)
  • Capital Cities, Major Regions and Statistical Divisions, Subdivisions and Districts (annual)
  • Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) (annual)

How are ERPs used?
  • ERPs are used to determine the number of seats allocated to each state and territory in the House of Representatives; to decide how Commonwealth government tax revenues are distributed among the states, and for many other purposes.

Census data
Collected every 5 years, the Census of Population and Housing is a snapshot of everyone in Australia on census night, including overseas visitors. Census data is useful for finding:
  • comprehensive population data cross-classified by a wide range of socio-economic characteristics.
  • very small geographic area population data, including areas as small as a few streets (an area known as a Collection District, covering about 200 dwellings).
  • able to select population data by Usual Resident Population or Location on Census night.
Census home page

Population projections
Population projections are published every two to three years to enable forward planning by Commonwealth and State government agencies.
More information:
Demographic Estimates and Projections: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 1999 (cat. no. 3228.0) Chapter 1. Population estimates - an overview
ABS web site Demography Theme page