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Overseas born Aussies hit a 120 year peak

13 February 20150 comments
English migrants. Source: The Daily Telegraph

English migrants. Photo: The Daily Telegraph

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

The figures have come as latest data shows overseas migration in 2013-14 led to a population increase of 212,700 people – 9.7 per cent less than in 2012-13.

The largest numbers of overseas born people are from the United Kingdom and New Zealand but the fastest rising populations are from China and India.

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.

“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 ABS spokesperson Denise Carlton.

“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,” Ms Carlton said.

“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,” she said.

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

In terms of migration within Australia, an estimated 349,000 people moved interstate in 2013-14, an increase of 2.5 per cent from the previous year.

Net interstate migration contributed to population gains for Victoria (8,800 people), Queensland (5,800 people) and Western Australia (1,000 people).

Those states that experienced population loss through interstate migration were New South Wales (6,900 people), the Northern Territory (3,300 people), South Australia (3,000 people) and the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania (each 1,200 people).

Laurie Nowell
AMES Senior Journalist