Sydney won’t grow by 2.1 million in 20 years (IMO)

I feel like a one-man fact-checker today; not sure what’s wrong with me.

A tagline that’s been run with a lot in the media recently, including several times today:

“Sydney’s population to grow by 2.1 million in 20 years”.  sydney

When you think about the mathematics of that, though, it’s highly unlikely, in my opinion.

The population growth of Greater Sydney is presently tracking at well under 100,000 per annum, so it would take one heck of an acceleration to get up anywhere even close to that kind of level.

In fact, I’d go so far to say as nearly impossible without a big shift in land management policy given that cyclical interstate migration to warmer and cheaper Queensland has been on the rise for some time now.

Going back to the source data, what I think has happened is that some journos have pulled the 2.1 million figure from the revised period 2011 to 2036, which was admittedly a big step up from previous projections (but actually relates to population growth figures from half a decade ago now).

If the middle series of projections does play out it would mean the population of Sydney growing from 4.68 million in 2016 to 6.42 million by 2036.

That’s an increase of 1.74 million or ~87,000 per annum on average, which is more realistic.

I ran the middle series numbers below for you in a colourful columnar format (click to enlarge)!

pw new

I note that these figures are derived from the “main series” projections. 


The “high series” data do indeed show Sydney’s population exploding to 6.8 million by 2036, which would be an increase of 2.1 million.

By contrast the projected increase for regional New South Wales is relatively low, at just ~22,000 per annum over the next two decades.

In any event, any way you look at the Greater Sydney numbers they are huge, and with traffic worsening by the year it’s no wonder that people place a premium on living close to the city and key transport links.

I do worry about some of those fringe housing estates, though…

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Pete Wargent is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Secretary and has a Financial Planning Diploma. He’s achieved financial freedom at the age of 33 - as detailed in his book ‘Get a Financial Grip – A Simple Plan for Financial Freedom’. Pete now manages his investment portfolio, travels and works as a consultant in the finance industry from time to time. Visit his blog

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