1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Components of population growth(a)
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Footnote(s): (a) Year ending 30 June. (b) Contains a break in series at 30 June 2006. See NOM in the Population glossary.

Source(s): ABS Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0); ABS Australian Historical Population Statistics (cat. no. 3105.0.65.001)


Population growth is made up of two components - natural increase (the difference between births and deaths) and net overseas migration (NOM).

From 1901 to 2008, Australia's death rate almost halved, from 12.2 to 6.7 deaths per 100,000 population (ABS 2009a; ABS 2008a). While this trend has had an influence on Australia's natural increase, fluctuations in fertility rates are another main factor.

In 1921, the total fertility rate projected around 3.1 children per woman in her lifetime, based on age-specific fertility rates at the time. During the Great Depression, the total fertility rate declined to 2.1 children (in 1934). At the height of the baby boom in 1961, Australia's fertility rate was 3.5 babies per woman. Since that time, fertility has declined as women have had more control over their fertility (such as access to birth control and abortion) as well as changes in attitudes surrounding the role of women in society. The greater opportunities women have to pursue education and employment have resulted in many women delaying having children or even choosing not to have them. The total fertility rate reached a low of 1.73 in 2001 and more recently we have seen an increase in fertility rates to 1.97 in 2008, the highest level since 1977. Despite an increase over the last decade, the total fertility rate remains below the replacement level of 2.1 babies per woman (the number of babies a woman would have to have over her lifetime to replace herself and her partner).

Overseas migration plays an important role in Australia's continuing population growth, explaining a sizable proportion of our population increases in recent decades. The actual level of net overseas migration varies from year to year, being influenced by government policy as well as by political, economic and social conditions in Australia and the rest of the world. Net overseas migration grew from 96,000 people in the year ending June 1999 to a high of 299,000 people in the year ending June 2009. Since 1999, the contribution of Net overseas migration to Australia's annual population growth has fluctuated between 43% and 65%, being at the higher end of this range over the last three years (ABS 2010; ABS 2008a).


  • Population glossary
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