3105.0.65.001 - Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2014  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/09/2014   
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18 September 2014
Embargoed: 11.30 am (Canberra time)

Today's Australia — built on a history of demographic change

Australians today are older, more likely to live in urban areas, have fewer children and are more likely to be born overseas than a century ago, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The Australian Historical Population Statistics publication showcases a wide range of historical demographic data, going back as far as 1788.

"This publication is a great way to use statistics to tell stories of how Australia's population has changed over time", said Neil Scott, from the ABS.

Since Federation in 1901, Australia's population has increased over fivefold, growing from a total population of nearly four million to reach 22.3 million in 2011. The population distribution has also changed, with over 85 per cent of Australians living in urban areas compared with less than 60 per cent in 1911.

Life expectancy at birth has increased by 33 years between 1890 and 2011, reflecting improvements in living conditions, health and medical advances. As a result of this higher life expectancy and an ageing population structure, the median age of Australians has increased from 22 years in 1901 up to 37 years in 2011.

Australia's fertility, as measured by the total fertility rate, has declined from an average of 3.1 babies per woman of child bearing ages in 1921 to 1.9 babies in 2011. This decrease reflects broad social change in Australia, including the introduction of birth control and an increase in labour participation by women.

In 2011, 27 per cent of Australia's population were born overseas, the highest proportion since Federation. The United Kingdom remains the top country of birth, however with the broadening of Australia's immigration policies since the 1970s, new groups of migrants have been arriving from all parts of the world increasing the diversity of Australia's population.

Further details can be found in Australian Historical Population Statistics (Cat. no 3105.0.65.001) available for free download from the ABS website (www.abs.gov.au).

Media notes:

  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • Media requests and interviews - contact the ABS Communications Section on 1300 175 070.