Population centralization…the Australian way!

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recently released regional population statistics for the year to June 2011.  These figures provide much more detailed statistics on population growth than the quarterly figures provided by the ABS and they allow a more in-depth analysis of population growth trends.

Over the year to June 2011, the country’s population is estimated to have increased by 1.4%.  The rate of population growth across the capital city markets (1.6%) has eclipsed growth rates in regional areas of the country (1.2%).  The figures show that of Australia’s estimated population of 22,618,294 persons, 14,500,754 persons lived within the capital cities.  This equates to 64.0% of the population residing in one of the eight capital cities.  In fact, the five largest cities in the country (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide) accounted for 60.9% of the country’s population. Since 1996, there has been a steady increase in the proportion of the country’s population that is living in the capital cities.

Across Australia, it is estimated that 8,117,537 persons live outside of the capital city markets.  Across the country there is 53 non-capital city Statistical Divisions and approximately 45% of those persons living outside of the capital cities live in the ten most populous of these regions.

Across each individual state except for Queensland (45.3%) and Tasmania (42.4%) the majority of residents live within the capital city.  Even though Brisbane and Hobart don’t have more than 50% of the state population, they do still have the largest proportion of the population across all regions of the state.  Of all the states, other than the Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia is the most centralized state with 74% of residents living in Perth.  The other states which are heavily centralized include Victoria (73.6%), South Australia (73.2%) and New South Wales (63.4%).

Western Australia has been the fastest growing state over recent years and when looking at the regions with the greatest percentage growth over the most recent 12 months, Western Australian regions feature heavily.  Although population continues to grow, the rate of increase has slowed markedly over recent years with only eight regions, five of which are in Western Australia, recording population growth of 2.0% or more over the year.

Overall, the results highlight that Australia’s population remains heavily centralized with more than 60% of residents living within our five largest cities and these five cities are the only ones throughout the country that have a population in excess of 1 million persons. Given that the capital city markets tend to enjoy higher wages and have better job opportunities it is no surprise to see that so many residents choose to live in the major capital cities.  In regional markets, the population is most centralized within those coastal regions adjoining the capital cities.  This result indicates that residents that choose to live outside of the capital city tend to remain close.  This is due to the fact that they can still commute to the capital city for work and these areas also tend to have a much more adequate supply of infrastructure including: roads, schools, retail, health and essential services.  Especially when compared to those non-capital city regions in more rural areas of the country.

About Cameron Kusher

Cameron Kusher is RP Data’s senior research analyst, specialising in primary and secondary data analysis, property market commentary and consultancy. Cameron has a thorough understanding of the fundamentals such as demographics, trends, economics and spacial analysis and is a regular keynote speaker for property-related groups, regulated industry bodies, corporations and the government sectors. Follow Cameron on Twitter @cmkusher

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2 Responses to Population centralization…the Australian way!

  1. Rebecca April 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    As someone who has recently moved to this country from the UK; it continues to amaze me how citycentric Australia continues to be. Ask the majority of residents where they would like to live and you are highly likely to hear the name of one of the Capital Cities spoken. Everyone continues to be narrow minded about the changing demographics of the country and in a way this cultural normality restricts the much needed growth of Cities outside of the Capitals!

    • Cameron Kusher April 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

      Hi Rebecca

      I completely agree with you. I believe the biggest reason why we don’t see more settlement outside of the capital cities is simply due to the fact that there simply aren’t the jobs available in these regions or if they are available they simply don’t pay well enough. I know of a lot of people in Sydney that have moved to Newcastle or Wollongong however, they still commute to Sydney for work.

      Without the necessary jobs or necessary infrastructure such as high speed rail linkages it is difficult to see how these trends are going to change.

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