1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012   
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Population statistics measure the size, growth, composition and geographic distribution of the population, as well as the components that shape population change – births, deaths and migration. Population statistics underpin discussion of a wide range of topical issues, including dynamics in family structures, fertility, ageing and migration. Statistics on population trends assist governments to develop social and economic policies in areas such as health, education, housing, the labour market and the environment.

There are important legislative requirements for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to produce population estimates. The legislation that determines the distribution of state, territory and local government grants uses ABS population estimates as one of the bases for calculation. Population estimates are also used to determine the number of seats to which each state and territory is entitled in the House of Representatives.

The Census of Population and Housing, which has been held every five years since 1961 (and at longer intervals before then), is the primary source of information on Australia’s population. While the most recent Census was conducted in August 2011, the results were not finalised at time of preparation. The latest Census information presented in this chapter is sourced from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing, conducted in August 2006.

This chapter contains two special articles, Characteristics of recent migrants to Australia and Humanitarian arrivals.

Further information on the Australian people and their characteristics can be found in many chapters of Year Book Australia.


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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.