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3222.0 - Population Projections, Australia, 1997 to 2051  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/07/1998   
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MEDIA RELEASE

July 14, 1998
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
74/1998

Where our population is headed by 2051 - ABS

Australia's 1997 population of 18.5 million could grow to between 23.5 and 26.4 million by the year 2051, according to various projections released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The projections are based on a combination of assumptions in future levels of births, deaths and migration to arrive at the size, structure and distribution of Australia's population into the next century.

Australia's total fertility rate dropped below 1.8 births per woman in 1996. The ABS has assumed that fertility will continue to decline to between 1.6 and 1.75 births per woman. Each shift in the total fertility rate of 0.1 births per woman changes the projected 2051 population by about 1 million persons.

Net overseas migration in 1997 was 83,700. If there were no net overseas migration from 1997, the Australian population would peak at between 20.1 million and 20.6 million in the late 2020s before declining to between 18.3 and 19.5 million by 2051. Every 1,000 net overseas migrants per year adds approximately 77,000 to the total Australian population by 2051.

Between 1997 and 2051, the highest rates of growth for the Australian population are projected to occur in the Northern Territory (between 84 per cent and 154 per cent), Queensland (between 76 per cent and 90 per cent) and Western Australia (between 67 per cent and 74 per cent).

Queensland is projected to replace Victoria as the second most populous State between 2022 and 2048, while the population of the Australian Capital Territory could pass that of Tasmania between 2037 and 2043. The Northern Territory could overtake the populations of both Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory as early as 2039. Tasmania's population is projected to decline from 474,000 in 1997 to between 198,000 and 381,000 in 2051.

The populations of most capital cities are projected to increase between 1997 and 2051, with the largest proportionate increases in Darwin (between 53 per cent and 179 per cent), Brisbane (between 80 per cent and 90 per cent) and Perth (between 70 per cent and 78 per cent). Sydney and Melbourne are expected to experience more modest increases, of between 20 per cent and 58 per cent, and between 10 per cent and 37 per cent respectively.

While the population of Adelaide could fall by as much as 16 per cent under one projection, it could also increase by 7 per cent. The population of Hobart is projected to decrease by between 18 per cent and 56 per cent. While the population of the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra) could fall by as much as 23 per cent under one projection series, it could also increase by 43 per cent.

The projections show that the ageing of Australia's population will continue. This is the inevitable result of fertility remaining at low levels over a long period. The median age (where half of the population is younger and half older) of 34 years in 1997 is projected to be 44-46 years in 2051. Persons aged 65 years or over comprised 12 per cent of the population in 1997 and this is projected to rise to 24-26 per cent in 2051.

United Nations medium variant projections show the world's population increasing from 5.7 billion in 1995 to 9.8 billion in 2050. Indonesia's population could increase to 319 million in 2050. New Zealand's population is projected to increase by 31 per cent by 2050 to 4.7 million, while both Japan and Germany are projected to decline to levels below their 1995 populations of 125 million and 82 million respectively.

Comprehensive detail is in Population Projections, 1997 to 2051 (cat. no. 3222.0), available from ABS Bookshops.
Main features of the publication are available from this site.


The Australian Bureau of Statistics has produced three main series of population projections. The following table and paragraphs briefly describe the assumptions behind these projections.

Fertility Assumption
Overseas Migration Assumption
Internal Migration Assumption
Series I
High
High
Low
Series II
High
Low
Medium
Series III
Low
Low
High

Fertility Assumptions:
High - The total fertility rate falls to 1.75 births per woman by 2005-06, and then remains constant.
Low - The total fertility rate falls to 1.6 births per woman in 2005-06, and then remains constant.

Mortality Assumption (used for all projection series)
1994-96 mortality rates decline to the year 2005-06 according to short-term rates of decline and then by long-term rates to 2050-51. By 2051, life expectancy of males will be 82.0 years and of females 86.1 years.

Overseas Migration Assumptions:
High - Annual net overseas migration gain of 90,000 from 1998-99.
Low - Annual net overseas migration gain of 70,000 from 1998-99.

Internal Migration Assumptions:
High - 'Large' net gains and losses for all States and Territories.
Medium -'Medium' net gains and losses for all States and Territories.
Low - 'Small' net gains and losses for all States and Territories.

POPULATION: Actual and projected
NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT
Aust.
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
CAPITAL CITY
1997
Actual
3 934.7
3 321.7
1 548.3
1 083.1
1 319.0
195.5
84.3
309.5
11 796.1
2051
Series I
6 212.8
4 566.0
2 782.3
1 155.7
2 342.6
159.9
128.8
(a)
. .
Series II
5 269.4
4 084.5
2 924.7
1 060.2
2 300.5
125.5
235.5
(a)
. .
Series III
4 732.0
3 641.9
2 938.2
910.9
2 241.4
86.7
235.0
(a)
. .
TOTAL
1997
Actual
6 274.4
4 605.1
3 401.2
1 479.8
1 798.1
473.5
187.1
309.8
18 532.2
2051
Series I
8 682.1
5 875.8
5 970.6
1 550.7
3 133.1
380.9
343.9
443.0
26 383.8
Series II
7 860.9
5 242.0
6 203.2
1 400.2
3 097.9
309.7
440.1
387.3
24 944.7
Series III
7 273.5
4 693.4
6 454.0
1 197.1
2 996.0
197.5
476.0
239.6
23 530.4
(a) Separate projections not produced for Canberra.


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