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International migration sees Australian cities boom

International migration continues to be a key growth driver in Australia, with migrants from China and India leading the way, according to the latest Census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The number of people born overseas increased by almost one million people since 2011, with the vast majority of the overseas-born population settling in a capital city.

“The latest Census data reveals a growing Australia, with a population that has doubled in the past 50 years, and a migrant population that has increased by nearly one million since 2011,” said Ironfish National Apartments Manager, William Mitchell.

“Migrants now make up 26% of the Australian population, with most drawn to our capital cities, in particular, Sydney and Melbourne.  The census data also reveals that as Sydney has become increasingly expensive, home ownership has dropped by 4.4% in the city – a significant shift in a five-year time frame. It will be interesting to see how the population growth may shift further in favour of other capital cities in years to come. We have already seen a significant increase in interstate migration to Brisbane last financial year, and this will be a key area to watch moving forward.”

Asian ties

For the first time, the number of Asian migrants to Australia have surpassed migrants from Europe. The proportion of overseas-born people from Europe has declined rapidly from 52% in 2001 to 40% in 2011, and 34% in 2016. Conversely, the proportion of migrants born in Asia has increased from 24% of the overseas-born population in 2001 to 33% in 2011, and 40% in 2016.

England is still the most common birthplace of migrants to Australia, however it is a different story at a state level, with China being the most common in New South Wales, and India for Victoria.

asian migration Australian population

*Data sourced from Census 2016

Diversity capital

The total number of migrants to Australia has also increased since 2011. The 2016 Census found one in four Australians were born overseas, and nearly half of all Australians were either born overseas or had at least one parent born overseas. Of the overseas-born population, nearly one in five arrived since the beginning of 2012. 

On a broader scale, Australia has a higher proportion of overseas-born people (26%) than New Zealand (23%), Canada (22%), the United States (14%), and the United Kingdom (13%).

City spotlight

People born overseas are more likely to live in a capital city than Australian-born people; 83% of the overseas-born population live in a capital city, compared to only 61% of the Australian-born population. Migrants who arrived in the past 25 years were more likely to live in a capital city than those who arrived before 1991 – 86% compared with 78%.

Sydney has the largest overseas-born population of all the capital cities (1,773,496), followed by Melbourne and Perth (1,520,253 and 702,545 respectively). 

Sydney also remained the largest city overall in Australia, growing by an average of 1,656 people per week between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses. Melbourne however is catching up, growing by an average of 1,859 people per week over the same period. 

No religion too

The number of Australians who reported “no religion” is up to 30%. Christianity is still Australia’s most common religion, but it’s down from 74% in 1991 to 52% in 2016. Christianity was still the most practised religion among the overseas-born population (47%), with “no religion” coming in as the second most common response.

The most recent Census data highlights what Australia is well known for. We come from over 200 different countries, speak over 300 languages, practise over 100 religions and identify with more than 300 different ancestries, making us one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world.

The Census of Population and Housing (Census) is Australia’s largest statistical collection undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The Census has been conducted since 1911 and is designed to provide a snapshot of Australia, showing how the country has changed over time and helps governments, business and communities plan for the future. In 2016, the Census counted approximately 10 million dwellings and approximately 24 million people.

For more information on Australian population growth and property insights download our Property Outlook report.