3405.0.55.001 - Discussion Paper: Assessment of Methods for Developing Experimental Historical Estimates for Regional Internal Migration, Dec 2011  
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ABS analysis
Non-ABS analysis conducted in Australia
International studies of internal migration estimation - methods and sources

The ABS (2006a) released Information Paper: Evaluation of Administrative Data Sources for Use in Quarterly Estimation of Interstate Migration, 2006 to 2011 (cat. no. 3127.0.55.001) reviewing the different administrative data sources that can be used to estimate interstate migration in Australia. This report concluded that Medicare data was the best source for quarterly interstate migration estimates.

Estimates of internal migration at the state/territory level are prepared and released by the ABS in the quarterly publication Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0) and in the annual publication Migration, Australia (cat. no. 3412.0). These estimates are modelled using Medicare change of address data supplemented by Defence force personnel movements. This model is reviewed and updated every five years using data from the latest Census (ABS, 2009b).

Currently, the main source of internal migration data below state/territory level collected by the ABS is the five-yearly snapshot from the Census of Population and Housing. Census data provide comprehensive small area internal migration data. The limitations of this source are that the Census is only conducted once every five years and the data are produced based on the Census year geography, e.g. 2006 ASGC, which may not be relevant in other years. The Census also has a small net undercount and there are some Census respondents for whom the ABS doesn't have information about their previous residences, e.g. when they haven't responded to this question on the Census form. Consequently, in some areas, Census data can under-estimate regional internal migration. The ABS makes much of its Census data available on the ABS website at <https://www.abs.gov.au/census>.

ABS analysis

An article was published by the ABS on housing mobility in Australia in Migration Australia, 2008-09 (cat. no. 3412.0) presenting statistics compiled from the Survey of Income and Housing (SIH), which is conducted every two years. Housing mobility refers to the movement of people due to a change in their place of usual residence. The statistics were analysed in terms of: main reason for last move, current tenure type, age, sex, family composition of household, labour force status, income, educational attainment, country of birth and state or territory. Type of last move was also investigated, which included whether people had: moved within the same suburb as their current dwelling, moved in the same state but different locality, moved from a different state or moved from overseas. The analysis showed that of the people who had moved in the five years prior to the survey, 43% moved from outside their suburb or locality but within the same state or territory.

Internal migration data from the Census have been analysed in several ABS reports.

Australian Social Trends (ABS 2009c) - Relocation across the Nation: Internal Migration and Population Growth (cat. no. 4102.0) looks at the movements of people to particular cities and regions which had high rates of growth, based on Statistical Districts using 2006 Census data. It examines some of the characteristics of the people moving to these places (age, education, labour force status) and compares them with people already living in these regions. An appendix provides details of internal migration indicators for major population regions including numbers of arrivals and departures, net migration, and the proportion of new residents arriving for selected age groups.

The Statistician's Report (ABS, 2006b) - A Picture of the Nation 2006 - On the Move (cat. no. 2070.0) explores migration flows between and within five broad geographic areas (capital cities, coastal centres, inland centres, country coastal areas, country inland areas) from 2001 to 2006 using Census data items based on SLA of Usual Residence 5 years/1 year prior to Census year. It provides an overview of the similarities of new residents of migration into these broad geographic areas, in particular age profile, labour force status, household income (lower bracket, higher bracket), occupation, and whether they are students or not. This allows direct comparison of basic demographic characteristics of migrants between these areas.

Perspectives on Regional Australia: Population Turnover, 2006 (cat. no. 1380.0.55.005) presents a dataset of population flow and population turnover (people moving into and out of SLAs) from 2001 to 2006 based on the Census item 'SLA of usual residence 5 years ago'. It provides a spreadsheet including for each SLA, population count in 2001 and 2006, number of arrivals, number of departures and population turnover for each SLA. The commentary in this publication highlights the SLAs with highest population turnover and gives a detailed overview of the characteristics of movers in some of these areas (eg. age, labour force status, education, age, ethnicity).

Non-ABS analysis conducted in Australia

Various aspects of internal migration have been explored by several government departments, universities and other researchers. This section provides a summary of reports.

The National Centre for Social Applications of Geographic Information Systems and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship have published a report titled Population Distribution Effects of Migration in Australia (Hugo and Harris, 2011). There was a focus in the project on international migrants. The five main steps in the project were:

1. Analysis of population movements at the Statistical Division (SD) level for the whole of Australia using 2001 and 2006 Census data.

2. Analysis of mobility patterns for recent migrants.

3. Investigation into the effects and impacts of recent migration on population, the labour and housing markets, and general infrastructure.

4. Insights into the future migration scenarios between 2011 and 2021.

5. Future migration scenarios, in terms of population and migration policies, regional development, provision of services related to education, health and housing.

Much of the discussion in this report is focussed on the reasons behind population movement, e.g. migration of recent migrants, capital city growth and infrastructure. The report includes comprehensive SD level migration data, but doesn't discuss regions smaller than SD level.

Internal Migration in Victoria Part 3 - Intrastate Movement Section (DPCD, 2010). Using 2006 Census data, this report provides a detailed analysis of migration patterns within Victoria and has discussions on both interstate and intrastate migration. The report includes an analysis of internal migration between Melbourne and Regional Victoria, by age, from 1981-86 to 2001-06. The report also examines population movement within regional Victoria. It presents case studies for selected regions (a coastal region, a dryland farming region, a 'tree-change' region and a large regional centre) including detailed analysis of where movers out of these regions are going and where those coming into these regions are coming from, with a focus on the age of movers. The main findings were that younger age groups tend to move to urban centres, older people counter the flow (in particular from Melbourne into regional Victoria) and proximity tends to influence how far people tend to move (e.g. people tend to move to areas close by).

The paper I'll have my city medium thanks. What do medium cities offer an urban planning and policy agenda (La Trobe University, 2009) highlights that existing research is dominated by what happens in Australia's five metropolitan cities, but presents the view that there is an increasing importance for many medium sized cities. The geography presented in the analysis is based on Statistical Districts and Major Statistical Regions. The paper presents a list of 26 'medium cities' which together account for 3.8 million persons (or 20% of the Australian population) in 2006. It provides an examination of internal migration for these Statistical Districts using Census data - looking at where movers are coming from/going to (broader level - Melbourne, Other Regional Victoria, Interstate/Overseas).

Sustainability and change in Rural Australia (Cocklin and Dibden, 2005) describes rural sustainability in historical perspective and the state of rural populations. This book gives an overview of the growth of and decline of rural areas (and capital cities) over the last century. It discusses the distinct phases for rural communities, and recognises that youth were drifting in from the countryside to the city and coast from the early 20th century, while inland communities have been in decline since this time. Even with special government programs introduced to protect rural communities, coastal cities and capital cities continued to expand. The discussion demonstrates that the drivers for this migration are fairly well understood, with people moving for better employment, education, and other social advantages.

An analysis of internal migration is also contained in this book. The majority of this discussion is based on metropolitan and non-metropolitan split throughout Australia. The time period covered is at least from 1996 (also sections of it take into account much longer time periods). It presents an interesting view on the increase in the number of non-metropolitan towns (population under 100,000 people) from 1966 to 1996, and an examination of the decline in small towns (under 2000 people) to 2001. It identifies characteristics of regional areas that experienced growth, as well as those that experienced decline. It examines internal migration between non-metropolitan and metropolitan areas and provides a profile of people who migrated to and from these areas.

The paper Sponge Cities and Small Towns: a new economic partnership (La Trobe University, 2005) looks at population loss in all urban areas and rural localities in Victoria from 1981 to 2001. It examines these in relation to the 'sphere of influence' of distance to Melbourne - associating in-migration from the metropolitan area to growth in regional areas outside of Melbourne. It then discusses reasons why people migrate into regional areas.

International studies of internal migration estimation - methods and sources

Various international studies on internal migration have been conducted. Appendix 1 provides a summary of how selected countries have prepared their internal migration figures, including: the data sources, the regularity of collections, the geographies used and some of the advantages and disadvantages of the methodologies applied.

Bell (2005) and Bell and Muhidin (2009) have conducted international comparison studies. Information regarding the difficulties found in conducting these studies is detailed in their reports.