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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2006  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/01/2006   
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For the purpose of this article, 'urban' Australia comprises capital city Statistical Divisions, and Statistical Districts with a population greater than 100,000 people. 'Non-urban' Australia refers to the remainder.

At 30 June 2004 three quarters of the Australian population (15.1 million people) lived in urban areas. Some 12.8 million urban residents lived in Australia's eight capital cities. The urban population increased by 192,100 people in 2003-04 while non-urban Australia increased by 46,500 people.

The age distributions of urban and non-urban Australia in 2004 show variations in three distinct age groups. The urban population has proportionally fewer people in two age groups - those aged 2-17 years of age and those aged 42 years and over. Conversely, non-urban Australia has proportionally fewer people aged 18-41 years (graph 5.20). The largest differences between urban and non-urban populations exist for young adults aged 21-25 years, as a result of the movement of many young people from non-urban to urban Australia. Much of this movement can be attributed to the lifecycle stage where young adults move out of their parental home to continue their education, for employment opportunities, independence or a change of lifestyle.

Graph 5.20: AGE DISTRIBUTION, Urban and non-urban Australia - 2004

In all states and territories other than the Northern Territory, urban populations were younger than non-urban populations in 2004. The median age of urban populations ranged from a low of 32.3 years in the Northern Territory to a high of 38.2 years in South Australia - a difference of nearly 6 years. The population of non-urban Australia had a larger range. New South Wales recorded the highest non-urban median age (39.8 years) and the Northern Territory recorded the lowest (28.4 years), a difference of over 11 years (graph 5.21).

Graph 5.21: MEDIAN AGE, Urban and non-urban, States and territories - 2004

Graph 5.22 shows the age-structure pyramid of males and females in 2004 for non-urban New South Wales (with the highest median age) and non-urban Northern Territory (with the lowest median age). Although non-urban New South Wales has an older population than non-urban Northern Territory, the pyramid also shows there are proportionally fewer people aged 20-39 years in non-urban New South Wales. The smaller proportions of children (those under 15 years of age) in non-urban New South Wales is largely a result of low fertility, while the higher proportion of children in non-urban Northern Territory is largely a result of higher fertility over time. Much of the age structure for non-urban Northern Territory can be attributed to the high proportion of Indigenous population, which has a younger age structure than the non-Indigenous population (see graph 5.27).

5.22 AGE STRUCTURE, Non-urban, New South Wales and Northern Territory - 2004
Graph 5.22: AGE STRUCTURE, Non-urban, New South Wales and Northern Territory - 2004

(a) The 85+ age group includes all ages 85 years and over and is not directly comparable with the other 5-year age groups.

Source: ABS data available on request, Population Estimates by Age and Sex, Australia and States, 2004 (3235.0.55.001).

In 1989 the median ages of Australia's urban and non-urban populations were similar, at 32.0 years and 31.5 years respectively. By 2004, non-urban Australia had a higher median age (38.3 years) than urban Australia (35.8 years). Although Australia's population as a whole is ageing, non-urban populations are ageing faster than urban populations.

The age structure of non-urban Australia has changed over the past 15 years. Between 1989 and 2004, the proportions of all age groups 40 years and over increased. These age groups include the majority of 'baby boomers' (persons born in the period 1946-65). Conversely, the proportions of all age groups under 40 years have decreased, reflecting Australia's sustained low fertility rates. Although both urban and non-urban Australia have low fertility rates, there has been a larger decrease in the proportion of children aged 0-4 years for non-urban than for urban Australia. In 1989 the proportion of the non-urban population aged 0-4 years was 8%, while by 2004 it was 6%. Over the past 15 years the largest decrease in the non-urban population was in the proportion of persons aged 25-29 years, which decreased from 8% in 1989 to 5% in 2004 (graph 5.23).

5.23 AGE STRUCTURE, Non-urban Australia - 1989 and 2004
Graph 5.23: AGE STRUCTURE, Non-urban Australia - 1989 and 2004

(a) The 85+ age group includes all ages 85 years and over and is not directly comparable with the other 5-year age groups.

Source: ABS data available on request, Population Estimates by Age and Sex, Australia and States, 2004 (3235.0.55.001).

The sex ratio (the number of males per 100 females) has declined in both non-urban and urban Australia over the past 15 years. In 1989 the sex ratio for the non-urban population was 103, indicating a larger male than female population. This declined to 102 in 2004, with males still outnumbering females. In contrast, urban Australia had more females than males with a sex ratio of 98 in 1989 and 2004.

Although the sex ratio shows more males than females in the non-urban population, there are variations between the states and territories (graph 5.24). The urban population of the Northern Territory is unlike urban populations in the other states and territories, with a sex ratio of 112 males per 100 females in 2004. All other states and territories have fewer males than females in their urban population. The Northern Territory also had the highest sex ratio for non-urban Australia at 109. The lowest sex ratios were in urban Tasmania (95) and urban South Australia (96). Non-urban New South Wales had closest to an equal number of males and females, with a sex ratio just under 100 males per 100 females.

Graph 5.24: SEX RATIO, Urban and non-urban - 2004

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