Fact sheet

Fact Check: Are there fewer young people in SA today than 36 years ago?

Independent politicians Ageing population Youth South Australia

In a TV debate ahead of the 2018 South Australian election, SA Best Leader Nick Xenophon claimed there were fewer young people in South Australia than there were 36 years ago when the population was 400,000 fewer. The statement goes against the conventional expectation that as population increases, so do the numbers in all age groups. But Mr Xenophon's claim does check out. South Australia has fewer young people today than it had in 1982 despite an increasing total population, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In June 2017, the latest number available, SA had 158,680 people aged 18 to 24, compared with 163,964 in June 1982. Those aged 12 to 24 totalled 277,291, also lower than the 300,250 recorded for 1982. The numbers for both groups climbed during the early 1980s, before beginning a decline that lasted until 2000. They then recovered some of the fall but not enough to match the numbers of the 1980s. As Mr Xenophon notes, SA's total population has increased over the period in question, from 1.33 million in June 1982 to 1.72 million in June 2017. For many years South Australia's population of young people has not kept up with other mainland states and territories.
Verdict: Checks out

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