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Australian population projections for 1999 to 2101

Australia's population will continue to age, according to the latest population projections released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

The population aged 65 years and over could triple in size, increasing from 2.3 million in 1999 to 6.4-6.8 million in 2051. By 2051 they could make up 24-27 per cent of the population compared with 12 per cent in 1999. The size of this group will increase rapidly from 2011 onwards when the post World War II "baby boomers" start turning 65.

The population aged 85 years and over is projected to be five times larger in 2051, increasing from the current size of 241,000 (1.3 per cent of the total population) in 1999 to about 1.3 million or 5 per cent of the population in 2051. But this group will be less dominated by women than it is now, with the proportion of men increasing from 31 per cent to 41 per cent over the next 50 years. This is because men are living longer and the gap between the life expectancy of men and women is assumed to be narrowing.

The population aged 15-64 years, which encompasses much of the working-age population, is projected to increase in size, but to decline as a proportion of the population, from 67 per cent in 1999 to 65% in 2021 and 59–60 per cent in 2051.

The median age of the population (the age at which half the population is younger and half older) is projected to increase by about 10 years from the present level of 35 years to 44-47 years in 2051. This is partly because women are assumed to continue to have fewer babies than in the past and partly because people are assumed to live longer.

Australia's population growth is projected to slow down during the next 50 years, from 1 per cent per year in the first 10 years of the projection period to 0-0.4 per cent per year between 2041 and 2051. The main reason for this is the decline in natural increase (the excess of births over deaths), to the point where it is projected to become negative somewhere between 2033 and 2046. After this, any population growth would come from overseas migration gains.

Australia's population as a whole is projected to grow from the current size of 19 million to between 24 and 28 million over the next 50 years. At the end of the century the population is projected to range between 23 and 32 million.

The United Nations medium variant projections for Japan indicate a decline in population from 126 to 105 million between 1995 and 2050, while the United States could increase from 267 to 349 million. Over the same period, the population of the United Kingdom should decline from 58 to 57 million while that of Indonesia is expected to increase from 198 to 312 million.

According to New Zealand's latest projections, the population is expected to grow from 3.8 million in 1999 to 4.6 million by 2051.

The States and Territories projected to grow fastest over the next 50 years under Series II (see assumption table below) are the Northern Territory (92 per cent), Queensland (74%) and Western Australia (63 per cent), all well above the growth projected for Australia (34 per cent). All States except Tasmania are projected to experience some degree of population growth.

Queensland could replace Victoria as the second most populous State between 2026 and 2038, while the population of the Australian Capital Territory could overtake that of Tasmania between 2041 and 2047. The Northern Territory could overtake the populations of both Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory by between 2044 and 2048.

The capital cities are projected to experience larger percentage growth than the balances of their respective States, resulting in the further concentration of Australia's population within the capital cities, under Series II. In this series, Sydney and Melbourne maintain their positions as the two most populous cities in Australia, growing to 5.9 million and 4.4 million respectively in 2051, followed by Brisbane with 2.9 million in 2051.

See also www.australia.org.nz

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