3107.0.55.003 - Information Paper: Improved Methods for Estimating Net Overseas Migration, 2006  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 10/02/2006  First Issue
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As Australia's national statistical agency, one of the core functions of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is to provide regular estimates of the size and structure of the Australian population. These official population estimates, termed the estimated resident population, or ERP, are produced and published on a quarterly basis (as at 31 March, 30 June, 30 September and 31 December each year).

Population estimates are used for a wide variety of purposes, including the distribution of federal government funds to state, territory and local governments, as well as in the determination of the number of seats for each state and territory in the House of Representatives. The accuracy of the ERP is therefore of paramount importance and is closely monitored by a wide variety of stakeholders.

Net overseas migration (NOM) is currently a major driver of quarterly movements in the ERP, accounting for around half of population growth at the national level. NOM is also a volatile phenomenon, with a wide range of demographic, social, economic and political determinants and consequences. In recent years many factors have presented challenges in accurately deriving estimates of NOM, including:

  • increasing volumes of international movements across Australia's borders
  • changes to the composition of international visitors and their duration of stay behaviour
  • international travel patterns of Australian residents (including duration of absence and frequency of travel)
  • operational changes to more efficiently process international travellers' information.

Although the conceptual basis for usual residence has not changed, the ABS is currently developing improved methods for estimating NOM, and expects to implement these methods in official population estimates from June 2007. The key change under the improved methods will be the introduction of a '12/16 month rule' for measuring a person's residency in Australia, replacing the current '12/12 month rule'.

This Information Paper describes the improved methods as well as current plans for implementing the methods in ABS statistics.

For further information relating to the improved methods for estimating net overseas migration, or the implementation of these methods, please contact:

Patrick Corr
Director, Demography
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Locked Bag 10
Phone: (02) 6252 6411
Email: patrick.corr@abs.gov.au
Facsimile: (02) 6252 7494