Australia's overseas-born population drops during pandemic

Media Release

Almost a third (29.1 per cent) of Australia’s resident population were born overseas (7.5 million people) in 2021, down from 29.8 per cent a year earlier (7.7 million people), according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

This was the first decrease in the proportion of people born overseas in over 20 years (since 2000).

Jenny Dobak, Head of Migration Statistics at the ABS, said: "while Australia’s population increased by 45,000 from June 2020 to June 2021, there was a decrease in the overseas-born population."

“The decrease reflected reduced overseas migration in and out of Australia, given the COVID-19 travel restrictions. The travel and migration intentions of many people changed due to the pandemic, including those migrating to work or study."

"In the first year of the pandemic there were fewer people born overseas migrating to Australia, as well as fewer people born in Australia departing to live overseas.”

England continued to be the birthplace of the largest group of overseas-born Australian residents (967,000 people), followed by India (710,000 people).

Australia's overseas-born population by country of birth — top 10(a)
Country of birth'000'000
New Zealand544560
South Africa162202
Sri Lanka100146
Total overseas-born6,0187,502
Total population22,34025,738

 a. Top 10 countries of birth for overseas-born as at 30 June 2021.

For more information see the ABS publication Australia’s Population by Country of Birth, 2021

Media notes

  • Australia's population by country of birth and migration data are preliminary for 2021 and subject to revision.

  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.

  • Please note this publication is separate from the 2021 Census data which is due for release from June 2022. Visit the Census release guide for further information.

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