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Does size matter? Population projections 20 and 50 years from 2013

12 Aug 2014

This report shows what would happen to Australia's population in 20 and 50 years into the future with different growth scenarios.


Periodically there is debate within Australia as to how big or small our population should be in the future. This sparks interest in what is driving growth, and what would happen to the size and structure of Australia's population if these drivers were to change.

The elements of population growth are natural increase (total births minus total deaths) and net overseas migration.The combination of these elements and how they change affects both the size and the age structure of the population. That is, if fertility and net overseas migration were high and life expectancy was low, we could expect a younger nation. If fertility rates were low (for a sustained period of time) and life expectancy increased, we could expect an ageing population. These changes have implications - an ageing population, for example, has a higher total dependency ratio (with more older people potentially economically dependent on fewer people of working age). This poses a future challenge for government policy because the public costs associated with the aged tend to be higher than the costs of people at other ages.

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