The 3 drivers of population growth


The ABS annual regional population dataset now includes details about population growth type.  

Population GrowthA change in population is dependent on three things:

1. Natural increase — in short, births versus deaths.

2. Net internal migration — this means movements within the country, including interstate moves but also movements within the same state or territory.

3. Net overseas migration — people moving to Australia from overseas.

It is worth noting that migration is a net figure — people arrive, whilst others leave a location.

From example, 98,197 people moved into Queensland from other states/territories last year and 80,771 people moved out of Queensland to other places in Australia that same year, so the net internal migration result was 17,426.

Two tables are included in this missive post. 

The first shows population growth type by state/territory and the second tableshows population growth type for the capital cities.   They both outline population growth/declines between fiscal 2016 and 2017.

In future missives I will supply further tables/comments covering south east Queensland and Queensland regional locations.

My next Long Read has a working title of Big Australia: Ponzi or not?  This will be released in late May and will add further commentary to the recently released population data.

Table 1:
Australian states and territories
Population growth – 2016 v 2017

or territory
Natural increaseNet 
internal migration
Net overseas migrationTotal 
New South Wales38,083-14,85998,570121,794
South Australia5,938-5,94110,49710,494
Western Australia20,024-11,72213,10121,403
Northern Territory2,932-3,490923365

Table 2:
Australian capitals
Population growth — 2016 v 2017

Natural increaseNet 
internal migration
Net overseas migrationTotal 

Some comments:

1. Most of the population growth is in our capital cities and especially Melbourne and Sydney.  Much of that growth is dependent on net overseas migration.

Population Groath A2. Locals are leaving New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory.  They appear to be moving to Brisbane/south east Queensland; Melbourne and in small doses to Hobart/Tasmania and, surprisingly, to Canberra.

3. The exodus from Sydney has a lot to do with low housing affordability, overcrowding and without wanting to stir the pot too much, increasing xenophobia.

4. The movements out of WA, SA and NT has a lot to do with their slower economies and limited work opportunities.  This is changing now in WA.  I think less will move out of the west in coming years.

5. Lots is written these days about Hobart’s boom, but as the tables show, Tasmania and Hobart are both small places.  It doesn’t take much to influence the numbers.  Remember the pendulum swings both ways and in smaller markets the downs can often be bigger than previous gains.


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Michael is director of independent property advisory Matusik Property Insights. He is independent, perceptive and to the point; has helped over 550 new residential developments come to fruition and writes his insightful Matusik Missive

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