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Monday, 6 August 2018

Australia 25 million

25 million

Australia's population clock will tick past 25 million tomorrow night at 11pm.

It's interesting to look back at the increase in the population over the years and how it has changed. 

In 1981 the population of Australia passed 15 million and was ticking along fairly consistently in absolute terms, until it began to accelerate through the resources boom from around 2005 onwards. 

And that growth has continued over the past half decade in absolute terms, although the construction phase of the resources boom has long since passed.

And in percentage terms population growth has slowed from above 2 per cent in 2008/9 to about 1.6 per cent today.. 

The composition of the population growth has changed too.

Immigration remains a major contributor, but whereas the resources states previously took a big chunk of population growth, today it's heavily focused on Greater Sydney, Greater Melbourne, and then south-east Queensland.

Since 1981 the three most populous states have accounted for a very similar share of total population growth, with New South Wales (27.3 per cent), Queensland (26.8 per cent), and Victoria (24.8 per cent) each recording strong growth. 

Indeed, for years Queensland's population growth comfortably outpaced that of Victoria due to its resources prowess - for some time being the state accounting for the highest population growth in the country.

That title is now well and truly held by Victoria as Melbourne and Geelong expand rapidly. 

Compositional change

For me the most notable change has been how capital city focused population growth has become, with the greatest share of migrants now coming from Asia, particularly China and India. 

Overwhelmingly migrants to Australia now arrive and live in the capital cities, and most will remain in the capitals too. 

The ABS reported that:

'In 2016, Sydney had the highest overseas-born population of all capital cities (1,773,496), followed by Melbourne (1,520,253) and Perth (702,545). 

The 2016 Census also reveals that those born overseas were more likely to live in a capital city (83%), a much higher percentage than people born in Australia.'

On Census night there were many more Chinese migrants in Sydney (225,000) than British (178,000), a remarkable shift in the past decade, and one that will likely continue. 

By the time of the next Census the same trend will hold true in Melbourne. 

Indian migrants in Sydney were catching up fast too at 131,000. 

With many migrants being aged under 30 this means that the traditional view of what young Australians 'are like'  will need to change as the population does. 

Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world, with about 90 per cent of residents in New South Wales and Victoria living in the larger towns and cities, and only 10 per cent located in small towns and rural areas.