Australia's Population by Country of Birth

Latest release

Statistics on Australia's estimated resident population by country of birth.

Reference period
2021
Released
26/04/2022
Next release 31/10/2023
First release

Key statistics

  • In 2021, 29.1% of Australia's population were born overseas. This decreased from 29.8% in 2020 
  • 7.5 million people resident in Australia in 2021 were born overseas
  • Largest group of overseas-born were born in England, however Indian-born was the group with the largest increase since 2011
  • In 2020, Australia ranked 9th internationally for the total number of migrants in its population.

More timely releases

The ABS has changed the way it publishes the content of the former publication Migration, Australia.

In its place are two new annual publications: this release, Australia's Population by Country of Birth, along with another publication called Overseas Migration which was released in December 2021.  These publications will be more timely, accessible and reduce duplication where possible.

There is no loss of data through these changes.

Impact of COVID-19

Many of the changes observed in the recent data in this release are mainly due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This release covers data up to 30 June 2021 and therefore includes the first 15 months of the pandemic period.

On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. Initially the Australian Government placed travel restrictions on those travelling to Australia from mainland China commencing 1 February 2020 and restrictions on other countries soon followed. From 20 March 2020, all overseas travel was banned, with few exceptions. From 19 April to 23 July 2021 a travel bubble with New Zealand was in place. 

The reference period for this release precedes the continued easing of international travel restrictions which commenced in November 2021.

The pandemic continues to disrupt international travel and migration patterns. 

Country of birth – Australia

Australia's estimated resident population (ERP) by country of birth is measured at 30 June each year. National data is available annually. A state and territory breakdown is only available for Census years.

Usually, more people immigrate to, than emigrate from, Australia each year thereby adding to the growth of the national population. In 2021 however, this was not the case.

  • In 2021, 29.1% of Australia's resident population were born overseas (7.5 million migrants)
  • One year earlier, in 2020, it was 29.8% of the population (7.7 million migrants)
  • This is the first decrease in the proportion of Australia’s overseas-born population since the year 2000.

This decrease can be attributed to the COVID-19 travel restrictions and the impact on overseas migration in both directions. The travel and migration intentions of many people changed due to the pandemic.

In 2021, there was a decrease in arrivals of people born overseas immigrating to Australia, as well as a decrease of people born in Australia departing to live overseas.

  1. Based on estimated resident population at 30 June each year. Prior to 1986 based on Census years.
  2. Population estimates for 2021 are preliminary. See Revision status in the methodology page.

    Source prior to 1986: Historical population - country of birth data cube

High levels of immigration in the years before 1891 resulted in 32% of the population enumerated as overseas-born in the first country-wide census in 1891. The proportion fell to a low of 10% in 1947, due to lower levels of migration during World War I, the Great Depression and World War II. The proportion then rose rapidly as a result of higher levels of post-war migration. Since then, there has been a fairly steady increase in the overseas-born population.

The various waves of migrants from different countries over time, have affected the diversity of Australia's population. Nearly every country from around the world was represented in Australia's population in 2021, but many groups had declined in number due to the pandemic.

  • England (967,000) continued to be the birthplace of the largest group of overseas-born living in Australia. However, this decreased from just over a million, recorded throughout the period 2012 to 2016
  • Those born in India (710,000) were the next largest group but had decreased by 13,000 people during the year 
  • Chinese-born (596,000) was the third largest, with an annual decrease of 52,000 people
  • The Australia-born population (18.2 million) increased by 196,000 during the year due to a higher number of births than deaths over the year.
Table 1.2 Australia's overseas-born population by country of birth — top 20
 2011 2021 
Country of birth(b)'000%(c)'000%(c)
England991.044.4967.393.8
India337.121.5710.382.8
China(d)387.421.7595.632.3
New Zealand543.952.4559.982.2
Philippines193.030.9310.621.2
Vietnam207.620.9268.171.0
South Africa161.590.7201.930.8
Malaysia134.140.6172.250.7
Italy201.680.9171.520.7
Sri Lanka99.740.4145.790.6
Scotland141.220.6130.060.5
Nepal27.810.1129.870.5
USA90.090.4109.450.4
Germany125.750.6107.940.4
South Korea85.930.4106.560.4
Hong Kong85.990.4104.990.4
Greece121.180.5100.650.4
Iraq54.980.299.360.4
Lebanon90.030.496.420.4
Pakistan34.150.295.980.4
Total overseas-born6,018.1826.97,502.4529.1
Australian-born16,321.8473.118,235.6970.9
Total population22340.02100.025738.14100.0
  1. Population estimates for 2021 are preliminary. See Revision status in the methodology page.
  2. Top 20 countries of birth for overseas-born as at 30 June 2021.
  3. Proportion of the total population of Australia.
  4. Excludes SARs and Taiwan.
  1. Top 10 countries of birth for overseas-born as at 30 June 2021.
  2. Population estimates for 2021 are preliminary. See Revision status in the methodology page.
  3. Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

In 2021, compared with a decade earlier in 2011, the countries of birth (excluding Australian-born) with the largest increases in Australia's population were:

  • India with an increase of 373,000 people
  • China 208,000
  • The Philippines 118,000.
  1. Top 10 countries of birth with the largest increase in volume from 30 June 2011 to 30 June 2021 for overseas-born.
  2. Population estimates for 2021 are preliminary. See Revision status in the methodology page.
  3. Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

​​​​​​​Country of birth – age and sex

There are differences in the age structure of the population born in Australia and that born overseas, with Australia's overseas born population tending to be older. The main reason for this is that most people migrate to Australia as adults and are less likely to migrate with young families. The largest five-year age groups among migrants are those of tertiary study or younger working ages. This contrasts with the Australian-born population where children make up the largest five-year age groups.

In 2021 the highest proportions of the population for those born:

  • in Australia, were aged 0-4 years and 5-9 years (both 5.8%)
  • overseas, were aged 35-39 years (3%).

In 2011 the highest proportions of the population for those born:

  • in Australia, were aged 0-4 years (6.2%)
  • overseas, were aged 25-29 years (2.4%).
  1. Australian-born and overseas-born persons as a proportion of Australia's total population as at 30 June 2021.
  2. Population estimates for 2021 are preliminary. See Revision status in the methodology page.

Median age and sex ratio

Comparing median age over time shows whether the age structure of a given population is changing. It is the age at which half the population is older and half is younger. It helps inform if a population is ageing and how fast that change may be over time.

For the Australian-born population, the median age has gradually been increasing over time from 30 years of age in 1996 to be 34 years of age in 2021.

In contrast, the overseas-born population has fluctuated over time from a median of 44 years of age in 1996, to a peak of 46 years in 2005, and a drop to 43 years in 2019. In 2021, due to the impact of the pandemic and the decrease in younger people arriving into the country, such as international students, it increased to 45 years. 

Table 1.6 Australia's overseas-born population — top 20 countries of birth by median age — 2021(a)
 Median age(c) 
Country of birth(b)20112021
Greece6875
Italy6973
Germany6267
Scotland5761
England5358
Lebanon4854
Vietnam4348
New Zealand4045
South Africa3945
Hong Kong3843
Malaysia3842
Sri Lanka4142
Philippines3941
China(d)3440
USA3840
Iraq3640
South Korea3239
India3136
Pakistan3133
Nepal2729
Total overseas-born4545
Australian-born(e)3334
Total population3738
  1. Population estimates for 2021 are preliminary. See Revision status in the methodology page.
  2. Top 20 countries of birth for overseas-born by volume as at 30 June 2021 sorted from oldest to youngest.
  3. Median age is the age at which half the population is older and half is younger.
  4. Excludes SARs and Taiwan.
  5. 2021 includes Norfolk Island.

Migrant populations from countries which were part of the post-second world war migration streams tend to be older. For example, the Greek-born population has a median age of 75 years. Those populations from birthplaces from more recent groups of migrant arrivals are younger. For example, the Nepalese-born population has a median age of 29 years, 5 years younger than those born in Australia.

In 2021 (among those overseas-born populations of 100 or more), the group with the:

  • oldest median age were from Latvia, at 79 years of age
  • youngest median age - Cayman Islands, at 14 years of age
  • highest sex ratio - Vanuatu, with 252 males per 100 females
  • lowest sex ratio - Turkmenistan, with 37 males per 100 females.

Country of birth – international comparisons

In 2020, the United Nations estimated there was a stock of 280.6 million international migrants worldwide. This is 3.6% of the global population.

When comparing countries by the number of overseas-born in their respective populations, the USA was the highest with 50.6 million migrants. This made up 15.3% of their national population.

Germany followed with 15.8 million migrants (18.8% of their population) and then Saudi Arabia with 13.5 million migrants (38.6% of their population).

Australia ranked ninth with 7.7 million migrants (29.8% of the population in 2020).

Table 2.1 Overseas-born populations around the world — top 20 countries with migrants(a) 
 2010201020202020
 million%(b)million%(b)
USA44.1814.350.6315.3
Germany9.8112.115.7618.8
Saudi Arabia8.4330.713.4538.6
Russian Federation11.197.811.648.0
United Kingdom(c)7.1211.29.3613.8
United Arab Emirates7.3285.68.7288.1
France7.3111.68.5213.1
Canada6.7619.88.0521.3
Australia(d)5.8826.77.6529.8
Spain(e)6.2813.46.8414.6
Italy5.799.86.3910.6
Turkey1.371.96.057.2
Ukraine4.8210.55.0011.4
India5.570.54.880.4
Kazakhstan3.3320.53.7319.9
Thailand3.234.83.635.2
Malaysia2.428.63.4810.7
Jordan2.7938.43.4633.9
Pakistan3.942.23.281.5
Kuwait1.8762.73.1172.8
World220.983.2280.603.6
  1. Top 20 countries are ranked based on their number of migrants in 2020.
  2. Proportion of each country's population born-overseas.
  3. Excludes Channel Islands and Isle of Man.
  4. 2020 includes Norfolk Island. Data is sourced from the ABS.
  5. Includes Ceuta and Melilla.

 Source: United Nations Population Division International Migration Stock 2020

Country of birth – state and territory

Australia's estimated resident population (ERP) by country of birth is measured at 30 June. At the state and territory level, data is only available for Census years, with the latest being 2016.

In 2016, the proportion of Australians born overseas was just under 29%. However, this varied across the nation.

The proportions at the state and territory level, from largest to smallest, were as follows:

  • 35% - Western Australia
  • 31% - Victoria
  • 30% - New South Wales
  • 28% - The Australian Capital Territory
  • 24% - South Australia
  • 24% - Queensland
  • 23% - The Northern Territory
  • 13% - Tasmania.

The proportion of the population born overseas increased for all states and territories from 2011 to 2016:

  • The Northern Territory had the largest increase of 3.7% over the five-year period.
  • Tasmania had the smallest increase at 0.6%.

(a) As at 30 June 2011 and 2016.

In 2016, those born in England (just over 1 million people) continued to be the largest group of overseas-born residents living in Australia. The New Zealand-born population (568,000) was second largest, follow by the Chinese-born (558,000 people). At the state and territory level, the ranking of countries differed from the national level and from each other.

The largest groups of overseas-born residents for each state and territory in 2016 were born in the following countries:

  • New South Wales — China (256,000 people)
  • Victoria — England (193,000)
  • Queensland — New Zealand (220,000)
  • South Australia — England (104,000)
  • Western Australia — England (214,000)
  • Tasmania — England (20,000)
  • The Northern Territory — Philippines (7,000)
  • The Australian Capital Territory — England (13,000).
Table 3.2. Australia's top 20 countries of birth(a) by state and territory(b) — 2016
 NSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACTAust.(c)
Country of birth'000'000'000'000'000'000'000'000'000
England250.66192.73200.36103.74213.9420.486.6913.331002.06
New Zealand127.91102.72219.9313.8387.355.425.585.02568.17
China(d)256.05176.6451.6426.7729.963.271.4211.93557.69
India153.80182.8453.1029.0153.372.134.2410.92489.41
Philippines94.1155.9543.1313.3033.431.776.973.96252.69
Vietnam92.8989.9321.8115.6917.620.451.193.61243.22
Italy55.9879.1014.7820.1821.960.970.642.13195.76
South Africa47.7430.3244.747.1545.551.721.082.15180.48
Malaysia34.9355.3416.448.4432.251.560.842.62152.90
Scotland33.0830.2925.2213.3130.352.610.882.01137.76
Sri Lanka32.5863.2411.124.208.870.440.983.08124.50
Germany33.6629.9723.1111.1612.772.381.182.46116.70
Greece35.9757.013.9910.152.750.591.791.17113.42
Korea, South58.0316.8620.994.107.920.670.502.50111.57
USA36.9324.2620.925.2311.452.001.663.30105.75
Hong Kong47.2924.3912.194.026.980.520.351.8397.59
Lebanon68.3619.881.711.841.310.090.070.4693.72
Ireland28.2018.1913.273.7221.580.771.360.9388.02
Indonesia34.0719.257.862.2712.490.361.301.3678.97
Netherlands18.9322.2015.777.1910.392.520.541.1278.67
Total overseas-born 2,326.321,892.531,139.85418.83895.3667.8555.41113.516,911.34
Australian-born5,406.544,280.653,705.311,294.021,660.62449.67190.26289.6017,279.57
Total population7,732.866,173.174,845.151,712.842,555.98517.51245.68403.1024,190.91
  1. Top 20 countries of birth for overseas-born at the Australia level as at 30 June 2016.
  2. Country of birth is available at the state and territory level in Census years only.
  3. Includes Other Territories. See Classifications on the methodology page.
  4. Excludes SARs and Taiwan.

Data downloads

I-note for Excel data cubes

1.  Estimated resident population (ERP) for 2021 are preliminary. See Revision status in the methodology page.

2. Country of birth population estimates by state and territory are only available for Census years.

3. The median age is the age at which half the population is older and half is younger.

4. The sex ratio relates to the number of males per 100 females. It has not been calculated for those countries of birth with a population of less than 100 persons.

5. Country classification and codes are from the: Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 2016 (cat. no. 1269.0).

6. The ABS has identified an unrealistically high number of deaths from 2012 to 2014 being attributed to persons born in Isle of Man. For the Australian population born in Isle of Man, this has resulted in an underestimate of ERP for the period 2012 to 2015.

7. Estimates of population counts in the data cubes have been rounded to the nearest 10 to maintain confidentiality. Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of component items and totals. All calculations and analysis are based on un-rounded data. Calculations made on rounded data may differ to those published.

Excel data cubes

Data files

  

Data Explorer datasets

Caution: Data in Data Explorer is currently released after the 11:30am release on the ABS website. Please check the reference period when using Data Explorer.

For information on Data Explorer and how it works, see the Data Explorer user guide.

I-note for Data Explorer datasets

1.  Estimated resident population (ERP) for 2021 are preliminary. See Revision status in the methodology page.

2. Country of birth population estimates by state and territory are only available for Census years.

3. The median age is the age at which half the population is older and half is younger.

4. The sex ratio relates to the number of males per 100 females. It has not been calculated for those countries of birth with a population of less than 100 persons.

5. Country classification and codes are from the: Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 2016 (cat. no. 1269.0).

6. The ABS has identified an unrealistically high number of deaths from 2012 to 2014 being attributed to persons born in Isle of Man. For the Australian population born in Isle of Man, this has resulted in an underestimate of ERP for the period 2012 to 2015.

7. Estimates of population counts in the data cubes have been rounded to the nearest 10 to maintain confidentiality. Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of component items and totals. All calculations and analysis are based on un-rounded data. Calculations made on rounded data may differ to those published.

Related ABS publications

National, state and territory population
- includes quarterly data on net overseas migration and net interstate migration estimates.

Regional population
- includes annual data on regional overseas migration and regional internal migration estimates.

Overseas arrivals and departures, Australia
- monthly statistics on all international travel arriving in and departing from Australia.

Overseas migration
- annual statistics on Australia's international immigration and emigration, by state and territory, country of birth, visa, age and sex.

Personal income of migrants, Australia
- statistics on personal income of migrants including employee income, own unincorporated business income, investment income and other income.

Understanding migrant outcomes - insights from the Australian Census and migrants integrated dataset, Australia — 2016
- statistics about permanent migrants: their employment, education, income, housing and geographic distribution.

Insights from the Australian Census and temporary entrants integrated dataset — 2016
- statistics about temporary entrants: their employment, education, income, housing and geographic distribution.

Migrant data matrices
- provides users with links to available summary data on migrants from a wide range of ABS surveys and outputs.

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