1360.0 - Measuring Australia's Economy, 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/02/2003   
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Currently, the two main features of Australia's population are low fertility rates and the ageing of the population. Since 1990, the total fertility rate has fallen steadily and is now at the lowest level ever recorded (1.75 babies per woman in 2000). Falling fertility and increasing longevity are the main causes of the ageing of the population. The median age of the population has increased by 6.1 years in the last 20 years, from 29.6 years in 1981 to 35.7 years in 2001. Based on certain assumptions about fertility, mortality and migration (series II of the projections), the median age of the population is projected to increase to 38.5 by 2011. At June 2001 the number of persons aged 65 years or more was just over 2.4 million, or 12.5% of the total population. This is projected to increase to 3.0 million (14.3% of the total population) in the year 2011. The proportion of children aged 0-14 years is projected to decrease from 20.5% of the total population at June 2001 to 17.7% in the year 2011.

Population by age and sex, Australia, 2001 and 2011

Life expectancy at birth(a)

Year ended
31 December
Total fertility rate
Infant mortality rate
Net overseas migration

106, 900
97, 400
72, 400
103, 100
88, 400
104, 500

(a) From 1995, life expectancy at birth values refer to the three years ending in the reference year. From 1995, the life tables were constructed jointly by the Australian Government Actuary and the ABS.
Source: Australian Demographic Statistics (3101.0); Births, Australia (3301.0); and Deaths, Australia (3302.0).

Explanatory Notes

Demographic data assist researchers and policy makers in studying the characteristics of the population and in understanding how these characteristics have changed over time.

The total fertility rate is the sum of age-specific fertility rates (live births at each age of mother per female population of that age). It represents the number of children a female would bear during her lifetime if she experiences current age-specific fertility rates at each age of her reproductive life.

Life expectancy refers to the average number of additional years a person of a given age and sex might expect to live if the age-specific death rates of the given period continued throughout his/her lifetime. Life expectancy is often used to indicate changes in the health status of a community or to make comparisons between communities.

The infant mortality rate measures the number of deaths of children under one year of age in a calendar year per 1,000 live births in the same calendar year, and is also a key indicator of the health of a community.

Net overseas migration is net permanent and long-term overseas migration plus an adjustment for the effect of change in stay from short-term to permanent or long-term or vice versa. Natural increase is the excess of births over deaths. Net overseas migration and natural increase are the two components of Australia's population change.

The ABS also produces population projections for Australia, for each state and territory and for capital cities/balance of states based on a range of specified assumptions.

Further Reading

Australian Demographic Statistics (3101.0)
Contains quarterly estimates of total population by states, territories and Australia. Included are the most recent estimates of population in five-year age groups. Details of births, deaths, overseas and interstate migration as well as marriages and divorces are also included.

Births, Australia (3301.0)
Contains annual data on births by state, territory and Australia, characteristics of the parent(s) and also shows crude and age-specific birth rates and reproduction rates.

Deaths, Australia (3302.0)
Contains annual data on the number of deaths by state, territory and Australia. Deaths are classified by age, sex, birthplace, marital status, occupation and cause of death. Also contains information on deaths of indigenous people.

Causes of Death, Australia (3303.0)
Contains annual data on the causes of death by selected age groups.

Marriages and Divorces, Australia (3310.0)
Presents details of marriages and divorces and includes estimates of the population by marital status.

Migration, Australia (3412.0)
Gives details on the breakdown of net overseas migration and includes estimates of the population by country of birth.

Population Projections, Australia (3222.0)
Contains projections of the resident population of Australia, each state and territory and capital city and balances of state by age and sex for each year to 2051.

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