Australia in numbers

Joanne Simon-Davies, Statistics and Mapping

Figure 1: share of the Australian population by state/territory, selected intervals

Share of the Australian population by state/territory, selected intervals

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australian Demographic Statistics, Sep 2018, cat. no. 3101.0 and ABS, Population Projections, Australia, 2017–2066, (Series B), cat. no. 3222.0.

Between 1988 and 2018 the proportion of Australians living in Queensland and Western Australia increased, while the numbers of those living in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania declined. The number of those residing in Victoria, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory were fairly constant. These trends are largely projected to continue—except for Victoria increasing its share of population, and Queensland and Western Australia levelling off by 2038.

Figure 2: share of Australian population by age group, selected intervals

Share of Australian population by age group, selected intervals

Source: ABS, Australian Demographic Statistics, Sep 2018, cat. no. 3101.0 and ABS, Population Projections, Australia, 2017–2066, (Series B), cat. no. 3222.0.

Over the 30 years to 2018, Australia’s population has aged, and this trend is projected to continue. The proportion in the under 15 age group fell from 22% in 1988 to 19% in 2018 but may be similar in 2038 at 18%. In contrast, those aged 65 and over increased their share between 1988 and 2018 from 11% to 16% and may represent 19% in 2038.

Figure 3: estimated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population, 1901–2016

Estimated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population, 1901–2016

Source: ABS, Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2016, cat. no. 3105.0.65.001.

Since the 1980s the number of Indigenous Australians has grown rapidly. This is primarily due to relatively high fertility rates, falling mortality and an increased propensity to identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

Figure 4: total fertility rate, 1901–2017

Total fertility rate, 1901–2017

Source: ABS, Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2016, cat. no. 3105.0.65.001 and ABS, Births, Australia, 2017, cat. no. 3301.0.

Since Federation, Australia has undergone a demographic transition from high to low fertility and mortality rates. Since the 1970s, fertility (birth) rates have been less than two children per woman, around half pre-World War I levels. Lower rates during the 1930s Depression are evident, as is the post-World War II baby-boomer period.

Figure 5: life expectancy at birth, 1901–2016

Life expectancy at birth, 1901–2016

Source: ABS, Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2016, cat. no. 3105.0.65.001.

People in Australia have among the highest life expectancies of any nation. Australians can now expect to have an extra 27 years of life compared to those born at Federation. The improvement in life expectancy has been slowing in recent times, though women still outlive men by around four years on average.

Table 1: leading causes of death in Australia, 2008 and 2017

Causes of death 2008 2017
  No. Rank No. Rank
Ischaemic heart diseases 23 813 1 18 590 1
Dementia, including Alzheimer disease 8 172 3 13 729 2
Cerebrovascular diseases 11 979 2 10 186 3
Chronic lower respiratory diseases 6 255 5 8 357 4
Malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus and lung 7 956 4 8 262 5
Malignant neoplasm of colon, sigmoid, rectum and anus 5 274 6 5 325 6
Diabetes 4 181 7 4 839 7
Malignant neoplasms of lymphoid, haematopoietic and related tissue 3 887 8 4 499 8
Influenza and pneumonia 1 760 17 4 269 9
Diseases of the urinary system 3 235 10 3 565 10
Heart failure and complications and ill-defined heart disease 3 363 9 3 487 11
Malignant neoplasm of prostate 3 031 11 3 275 12
Intentional self-harm 2 341 13 3 128 13
Malignant neoplasm of pancreas 2 289 14 2 996 14
Malignant neoplasms of breast 2 789 12 2 928 15

Note: Causes of death data for 2017 are preliminary and subject to a revisions process

Source: ABS, Causes of Death, 2017, cat no. 3303.0.

Table 2: top ten countries of birth outside Australia, 1998 and 2018

1998 2018
Country of birth No. % of all
overseas born
Country of birth
(and rank in 1998)
No. % of all
overseas born
 England  943 870 21.9  England (1)  991 530 13.5
 New Zealand  328 280 7.6  China (7)  650 700 8.9
 Italy  242 460 5.6  India (11)  592 310 8.1
 Vietnam  163 020 3.8  New Zealand (2)  568 290 7.7
 Scotland  147 250 3.4  Philippines (9)  277 510 3.8
 Greece  135 030 3.1  Vietnam (4)  256 310 3.5
 China  132 080 3.1  South Africa (16)  189 230 2.6
 Germany  120 720 2.8  Italy (3)  186 640 2.5
 Philippines  107 620 2.5  Malaysia (12)  173 680 2.4
 Netherlands   94 860 2.2  Scotland (5)  135 150 1.8

Source: ABS, Migration, Australia, 2017–18, cat. no. 3412.0.

The proportion of Australians born overseas increased from 23% in 1998 to 29% in 2018. This accompanied a shift in migration patterns over recent decades away from the United Kingdom and other European countries to primarily Asian countries. Those born in China, India, Philippines and South Africa have shown the greatest rise.

Table 3: top ten languages spoken at home other than English, 1996 and 2016

1996 2016
Non-English
speaking languages
Number % of non-English
speaking
population
Non-English
speaking languages
Number % of non-English
speaking

population
Italian 367 290 14.8  Mandarin 596 711 12.4
Greek 259 019 10.4  Arabic 321 723 6.7
Cantonese 190 104 7.6  Cantonese 280 947 5.8
Arabic 161 966 6.5  Vietnamese 277 395 5.7
Vietnamese 134 011 5.4  Italian 271 597 5.6
German 96 651 3.9  Greek 237 586 4.9
Mandarin 87 320 3.5  Hindi 159 653 3.3
Spanish 86 860 3.5  Spanish 140 818 2.9
Macedonian 68 126 2.7  Punjabi 132 490 2.7
Tagalog (Filipino) 67 255 2.7  Tagalog 111 271 2.3

Source: ABS, Census of Population and Housing, 1996 and 2016.

In 1996, 81% of the Australian population only spoke English at home; declining to 73% in 2016. In 2016, more than one in five Australians (21%) spoke a language besides English at home. Mandarin remains the next most common language, spoken at home by one in every 40 Australians (or 12% of all non-English speaking languages).

Table 4: population by religious affiliation, 1996 and 2016

    Number Percentage
    1996 2016 1996 2016
Christian Catholic 4 798 950 5 291 839 27.0 22.6
Anglican 3 903 324 3 101 187 22.0 13.3
Other Christian 3 880 490 3 808 598 21.9 16.3
Total Christian 12 582 764 12 201 624 70.9 52.1
Other religions Islam 200 885 604 244 1.1 7.9
Buddhism 199 812 563 675 1.1 2.4
Hinduism 67 279 440 303 0.4 2.4
Sikhism (a) 125 904 0.5
Judaism 79 805 91 023 0.4 0.4
Other 1 540 863 1 010 431 8.7 4.3
Total Other 2 221 177 4 198 750 12.5 17.9
No religion 2 948 888 7 001 535 16.6 29.9
Total   17 752 829 23 401 909 100.0 100.0

Note: (a)  In 1996, data on the number of Sikhs was not published separately; however, they are included in the ‘Other’ of ‘Other Religions’ category in 2016 Census data.

Source: ABS, Census of Population and Housing, 1996 and 2016.

Since 1996, the share of people professing no religious affiliation has risen sharply. While coming off very low bases, the numbers following Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism have also grown relatively strongly, generally reflecting high net overseas migration flows.

Figure 6: highest level of educational attainment, 2006 and 2016

Highest level of educational attainment, 2006 and 2016

Note: Population aged 18 years and over and not at school.

Source: ABS, Census of Population and Housing, 1996 and 2016.

Figure 7: share of private sector employment, June 2017

Share of private sector employment, June 2017

Source: ABS, Australian Industry, 2016–17, cat. no. 8155.0.

Figure 8: trade and non-trade apprentices and trainees in training, 1985–2018

Trade and non-trade apprentices and trainees in training, 1985–2018

Note: Trade placements includes occupations in metal manufacturing; motor vehicle repair and maintenance; construction; printing; food; hairdressing; wood product manufacturing and textile; and clothing and footwear. Non-trade placements include community and personal service workers (including health and welfare support workers, carers and aides, hospitality workers and protective services workers); clerical and administration workers; sales workers; and machinery operators and drivers.

Source: National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), Historical Time Series of Apprentices and Traineeships in Australia, 2018.

Figure 9: enrolment in higher education by citizenship category, 2001–2017

Enrolment in higher education by citizenship category, 2001–2017

Source: Department of Education and Training,Higher Education Data Cube (uCube).

Table 5: key labour force and economic indicators, selected years

  April
Labour force indicators (%) 2009 2014 2018 2019
Unemployment rate (15 years plus) (trend) 5.6 5.9 5.5 5.1
Underemployment rate (15 years plus) (trend) (a) 7.4 7.7 8.5 8.3
Prevalence of long-term unemployment (15 years plus) (trend) (b) 13.4 22.3 24.2 22.9
Youth (15 to 24 years) unemployment rate (trend) 11.7 13.0 12.0 11.8
Youth underemployment rate (trend) 13.7 15.5 17.9 17.7
  March
Economic indicators—annual growth (%) 2009 2014 2018 2019
Consumer Price Index (original) 2.4 2.9 1.9 1.3
  December
  2008 2013 2017 2018
Gross Domestic Product (chain volume) (seasonally adjusted) 1.6 2.4 2.4 2.3
Labour productivity (in whole economy) (seasonally adjusted) (c) 0.5 2.1 -0.7 0.8
Wage Price Index (trend) 4.3 2.6 2.1 2.3

Note: (a) The underemployment rate is the share of people in the labour force that want, and are available for, more hours of work. (b) Prevalence of long-term unemployment is the share of unemployed people who have been actively seeking work for 12 months or more. (c) Labour productivity in the whole economy is measured by annual change in the GDP per hour worked index.

Sources: ABS, Labour Force, Australia, April 2019, cat no. 6202.0; Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, April 2019, cat no. 6291.0.55.001; Consumer Price Index, Australia, March 2019, cat no. 6401.0; Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, December 2018, cat. no. 5206.0; and Wage Price Index, Australia, December 2018, cat no. 6345.0.

Figure 10: unemployment rate in Australia, 1901–2018

Unemployment rate in Australia, 1901–2018

Sources: W Vamplez, ed., Australians Historical Statistics, 1987, Fairfax, Syme & Weldon Associates, Australia, LAB 86-97, pp. 152 (Butlin Estimates from 1901 to 1966); ABS, The Labour Force Australian Historical Summary, 1966–1984, cat no. 6204.0 (data from 1999–1977) and Labour Force, Australia, April 2019, cat no. 6202.0 (data from 1978–2018, seasonally adjusted).

Figure 11: annual and average growth in GDP, 2000–2018

Annual and average growth in GDP, 2000–2018

Source: ABS, Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, December 2018, cat. no. 5206.0, Table 1, seasonally adjusted data.

Figure 12: Consumer Price Index, headline and underlying rates, 2003–2018

Consumer Price Index, headline and underlying rates, 2003–2018

Source: ABS, Consumer Price Index, March 2019, cat. 6401.0, Tables 1, 2 and 8. Note: The underlying rate excludes volatile price movements due to floods or drought, seasonal conditions or government policy decisions.

Figure 13: Australian exports, imports and trade balance as a proportion of GDP

Australian exports, imports and trade balance as a proportion of GDP

Source: ABS, Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, December 2018, cat. no. 5206.0.

Table 6: Australia’s top 10 export markets, 2013–14 to 2017–18

Rank  Country 2013–14 2014–15 2015–16 2016–17 2017–18 % share of total 5-year trend
growth
1 China 99 986 85 070 87 829 110 012 123 274 30.6 7.5
2 Japan 50 972 46 444 37 975 44 455 51 328 12.7 –0.9
3 Republic of Korea 22 668 20 613 19 971 22 761 23 628 5.9 1.6
4 United States 17 228 20 530 21 897 20 684 21 424 5.3 7.0
5 India 10 616 12 939 13 338 19 268 21 145 5.2 12.3
6 Hong Kong (SAR of China) 12 990 11 501 11 560 15 861 14 506 3.6 6.5
7 New Zealand 11 793 12 718 13 162 13 671 14 370 3.6 5.2
8 Singapore 11 167 12 383 10 070 11 349 13 164 3.3 3.3
9 United Kingdom 8 392 9 095 12 647 12 753 11 757 2.9 6.8
10 Taiwan 8 299 7 907 7 670 9 987 10 952 2.7 5.5
  Total (all countries) 336 322 324 674 319 721 373 740 403 241   4.9

Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Australia’s trade in goods and services by top 15 partners, 2017–18.

Table 7: Australia’s top 15 export products, 2013–14 to 2017–18

Rank Commodity (a) 2013–14 2014–15 2015–16 2016–17 2017–18 % share
of total
5-year
trend
growth
1 Iron ores & concentrates 74 671 54 519 47 799 62 617 61 357 15.2 –0.8
2 Coal 39 960 37 882 34 541 54 236 60 356 15.0 9.1
3 Education-related travel services (b) 18 528 21 258 24 145 28 093 32 434 8.0 14.2
4 Natural gas 16 305 16 895 16 576 22 308 30 907 7.7 14.7
5 Personal travel (excl education) services 16 774 18 238 20 669 21 628 21 580 5.4 8.1
6 Gold 13 261 13 506 16 585 18 979 19 293 4.8 7.2
7 Aluminium ores & conc (incl alumina) 6 078 7 106 6 790 7 529 9 448 2.3 9.7
8 Beef 6 422 9 040 8 495 7 115 7 963 2.0 7.5
9 Crude petroleum 10 427 8 154 5 184 5 150 6 507 1.6 –12.2
10 Copper ores & concentrates 5 220 5 242 4 664 4 577 5 720 1.4 –0.5
11 Professional services 4 525 4 967 5 082 4 945 5 211 1.3 3.3
12 Wheat 6 084 5 528 5 096 6 073 4 652 1.2 –5.4
13 Financial services 3 284 3 956 3 897 3 961 4 574 1.1 8.7
14 Meat (excl beef) 3 356 3 840 3 649 3 831 4 526 1.1 9.8
15 Technical & other business services 3 617 3 614 3 977 4 512 4 262 1.1 3.9
  Total (c) 336 322 324 674 319 721 373 740 403 241   4.9

Notes: (a) Goods trade is on a recorded trade basis, Services trade is on a balance of payments basis; (b) Includes student expenditure on tuition fees and living expense; (c) Balance of payments basis.

Source: DFAT, Australia’s trade in goods and services 2017–18.

 

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