MEDIA RELEASE
29 January 2015
Embargoed: 11.30 am (Canberra time)
09/2015

Overseas born Aussies hit a 120 year peak

The proportion of Australians who were born overseas has hit its highest point in 120 years, with 28 per cent of Australia's population - 6.6 million people - born overseas, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

"Australia traditionally had a high proportion of migrants, but we've now hit a peak not seen since the gold rushes of the late 1800s," said Denise Carlton from the ABS.

"Overseas migration has been a large contributor to the total Australian population growth for several years - it has consistently been the main driver since 2005-06, contributing more than 50 per cent of population growth in Australia.

"While the largest migrant groups were people born in the United Kingdom and New Zealand - with a total of over 1.8 million Australian residents being born in those two countries, the next two most common birth places were from the Asian region.

"These were China and India, with around 450,000 and 400,000 people respectively.

"Of the top ten countries of birth, the number of Australian residents who were born in India increased the most, almost tripling from just 132,800 people in 2004 to 397,200 people in 2014," said Ms Carlton.

"The number of residents born in China also more than doubled, going from 205,200 persons to 447,400 persons over those ten years.

"In contrast, the proportion of the population born in the United Kingdom saw a drop, falling from 5.6 to 5.2 per cent over the last ten years. Over the same time, New Zealand born migrants have grown from 2.1 to 2.6 per cent."



Top 10 countries of birth, selected characteristics - Australia - 30 June 2014(a)

Persons
Median age
Sex ratio
Country of birth
no.
% of Australian
population
years
males per
100 females

United Kingdom
1,221,300
5.2
54.4
104.6
New Zealand
617,000
2.6
39.7
105.2
China
447,400
1.9
35.5
81.9
India
397,200
1.7
33.2
119.7
Philippines
225,100
1.0
39.5
63.7
Vietnam
223,200
1.0
44.5
85.0
Italy
201,800
0.9
68.8
108.5
South Africa
176,300
0.8
40.9
99.8
Malaysia
153,900
0.7
38.6
88.3
Germany
129,000
0.5
62.9
92.4

(a) Estimates from June quarter 2013 onwards are preliminary - see paragraph 9 of the Explanatory Notes.

Australia's larger states gained the biggest share of net overseas migration, with New South Wales gaining 73,300, Victoria 59,400, Western Australia 32,300 and Queensland 30,300. Tasmania had the smallest net overseas migration gain, adding 1,300 people.

Looking at migration within Australia, net interstate migration contributed to population gains for Victoria (8,800 persons), Queensland (5,800 persons) and Western Australia (1,000 persons). Those states that experienced population loss through interstate migration were New South Wales (6,900 persons), the Northern Territory (3,300 persons), South Australia (3,000 persons) and the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania (each 1,200 persons).

More information on migrants living in Australia, and data on overseas and interstate migration can be found in Migration, Australia, 2013-14 (cat. no. 3412.0), available from www.abs.gov.au.

Media Note:

  • Country of birth data is available at the state and territory level in Census years only.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • Media requests and interviews - contact the ABS Communications Section on 1300 175 070.
 
Attribute - Australian Bureau of Statistics