Australian demographic trends of 2016

Population growth steadies.

Overall, Australia’s population growth seems to have steadied at around 1.4 per cent in 2016, or about 340,000 per annum, with Sydney and Melbourne alone mopping up around half of the total increase in headcount.


One of the drivers for the rebound in the number of permanent settlers appears to have been a very strong uplift in the migrant intake from North Africa and the Middle East.


Asian settlers accounted for 55 per cent of the total permanent settlers in 2016, while the number of permanent arrivals from New Zealand and the United Kingdom continued to wane.

Record short term arrivals 

The lower dollar has helped to drive the total number of short term arrivals another 10 per cent higher in 2016 to a record high of 8.24 million.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that the state of New South Wales remains by a wide margin the most popular destination for overseas visitors, accounting for nearly 38 per cent of all short-term trips, followed by Victoria at 25 per cent, and then Queensland at 22 per cent.

Thanks in part to unprecedented household wealth Australians are still holidaying overseas in record numbers, but short term departures increased by a less sprightly 4 per cent over the year, and the raw statistics have shown that more of us are now heading to cheaper and closer locations such as Bali in Indonesia.


It’s well worth noting that the most frequently quoted figures for permanent settlers underplay the importance of temporary visas Down Under, with around 2 million people in Australia now here on short term visas (with a year-on-year increase in this cohort of about 5 per cent).

Of particular importance are the 471,000 student visa holders, a figure which increased by about 11 per cent last year, and was echoed in a 10 per cent uplift in short term arrivals for the stated purposes of education.


Higher education enrolments are a trend worth watching because so many international students are expected to stay in Australia on sundry visa types.

Last but by no means least, there was another epic 16 per cent increase in visitors from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong to more than 1.62 million in 2016, with even stronger percentage increases in the number of visitors from countries such as the United States of America and Japan.


There has been a 13-fold increase in the number of visitors from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong over the last quarter of a century, with Chinese visitors spending more in Australia on average than visitors from any other country.

The wrap australia high resolution

Overall it looks as though population growth steadied at around 340,000 per annum last year, but with a record share of that population growth accounted for by the most populous capital cities, and Sydney and Melbourne in particular.

Also of relevance, the lower currency is helping to rebalance the economy through encouraging more of us to spend our dollars at home and ever more tourists to visit Australian shores.


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Pete Wargent


Pete is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Secretary and has a Financial Planning Diploma. Using a long term approach to building businesses, investing in equities, & owning a portfolio he achieved financial independence at the age of 33. Visit his blog

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