3102.0 - Australian Demographic Trends, 1997  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/05/1997   
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May 26, 1997
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Longer lives, fewer babies

Australians are living longer and having fewer babies according to a publication about demographic trends released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Australian Demographic Trends provides an overview of Australia's past and current population trends with an emphasis on changes in the past 10-20 years. The publication covers population growth and distribution, age and sex composition, fertility, mortality, international and internal migration. In addition, time series from the turn of the century for the main demographic indicators are presented.

The following excerpts are taken from the publication:

Population growth and distribution
  • Australia's population reached 18 million in 1995, five times the size it was at federation. The main component of population growth has been natural increase, contributing around two-thirds of total growth.
  • In 2051, Australia's population is projected to be between 24.9 and 28.3 million depending on levels of fertility and immigration.
  • New South Wales was the most populous state with 6.2 million people in 1996. Victoria followed with 4.5 million, then Queensland with 3.4 million. Queensland however, is set to overtake Victoria as the second most populous state by 2029 and should contain about a quarter of Australia's population by 2051.
  • In 1991, 85 per cent of Australian residents lived in urban areas. The most urbanised States\Territories were the Australian Capital Territory (98.6 per cent), New South Wales (87.7 per cent) and Victoria (87 per cent). The least urbanised were Tasmania (72.3 per cent) and the Northern Territory (67.6 per cent).
  • Australia's Indigenous population was estimated to be 283,600 in 1991, growing at an average of 2.5 per cent per annum since 1986 (compared with the total Australian population's average growth rate of 1.5 per cent. The Northern Territory had the highest proportion of Indigenous people, with one in four Northern Territorians identifying as being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin.

Population structure
  • In the mid 1990s, the median age increased by 0.3 years per year. This was the most rapid rate this century, and the most rapid in the foreseeable future.
  • The Indigenous population of Australia has basically the same age structure that it did in the 1930s, one that reflects low life expectancy and high fertility
  • There are 99.1 men per 100 women in Australia, the lowest ratio since European settlement, compared to 110 at the turn on the century.

  • On 1993 rates, one in four women (27 per cent) will have no children, compared to 9 per cent of women who went through the baby boom (those born in 1936) and 18 per cent of those who went through the great depression (those born in 1909).
  • 75 per cent of mothers are married, 12 per cent are in defacto relationships, and 12 per cent are single. Victorian mothers are the most likely to be married.
  • Australian women are having an average of 1.82 babies each, the lowest rate on record, compared to about 3.5 at the turn of the century.

  • Since the beginning of the century, life expectancy at birth has increased by approximately 20 years for males and 22 years for females, 75 years and 81 years respectively in 1993-95.
  • The Northern Territory has consistently had the highest mortality rates in Australia. Despite a decline of 43 per cent over the last 20 years, the 1995 standardised mortality rate of 9.9 death per 1,000 population was about 50 per cent above the National level. The high level of mortality in the Northern Territory reflects the high death rate among the relatively large Indigenous population.
  • Diseases of the circulatory system and malignant neoplasms (cancer) together accounted for 70 per cent of deaths in 1995, a slight reduction from 73 per cent in 1975.

International migration
  • Since 1945 the population has increased by more than 4 million people as a direct result of immigration and another 2 million indirectly.
  • Long-term visitor arrivals have increased markedly in the last twenty years. During the 1990s about half of these arrivals have been young students from Asian regions coming to study in Australia.
  • At 30 June 1996, 23 per cent of the population had been born overseas, the same proportion as in 1901. In 1947 this proportion had fallen to a minimum of 10 per cent.

Internal migration
  • 365,920 people moved interstate in 1995-96.
  • Australia has similar levels or slightly higher internal migration levels to that of Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America.

Australian Demographic Trends (cat. no. 3102.0) is available at ABS Bookshops.