What does the 2016 census say about you?

What does the 2016 census say about you?

Mark McCrindle

The national census data, which the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has recently released, gives a fascinating picture of a changing Australia.

Our nation is larger, older, more culturally diverse and less religious than at any other time in history. This information provides a good understanding of the national population and the potential financial opportunities for businesses and investors and also reveals areas where there are lulls that best be avoided.

A nation of 24.6 million and growth of 8.8 per cent since the 2011 census

On Census night in 2016, 23.4 million individuals who normally live in Australia were counted – an 8.8 per cent increase from 2011. This doesn’t include the 300,000 visitors, or the 600,000 Australians who were overseas at the time. As at 31 December 2016, the ABS estimates a total population of 24.4 million (and today it is 24.6 million).

While New South Wales (7.5 million) and Victoria (5.9 million) remain our largest states, the fastest growing states were the ACT (11.2 per cent growth), followed by Victoria (10.7 per cent) and Western Australia (10.5 per cent).

Nearly half of us are ‘first’ or ‘second’ generation Aussies

Migration has changed Australia’s cultural landscape as 26.3 per cent of Australians are now born overseas (up from 24.6 per cent in 2011). Australians are most likely to have had at least one parent born overseas (both parents Australian born has declined from 50.0 per cent to 47.3 per cent).

While most Australians (73 per cent) speak only English at home, more than one-fifth of Australians (21 per cent) speak one of the 300 or more languages spoken across our nation. Mandarin (2.5 per cent), Arabic (1.4 per cent), Vietnamese (1.2 per cent), and Cantonese (1.2 per cent) are the most commonly spoken languages.

The top places of birth of all Australians who were born outside of Australia are England (3.9 per cent, down from 4.2 per cent in 2011), New Zealand (constant at 2.2 per cent), China (2.2 per cent, up from 1.5 per cent in 2011), India (1.9 per cent, up from 1.4 per cent in 2011) and the Philippines (1.0 per cent, up from 0.8 per cent). European migrants tend to be much older than Asian-born migrants, who are more likely to have come in recent years and are therefore younger.

Not only growing, but ageing

Australia has developed a middle-age spread as our population is ageing. As the proportion of the population aged over 50 has grown, the child and teenage population as a proportion has decreased. Those aged 65+ now represent 16 per cent of the population (up from 14 per cent in 2011). In Tasmania, Australia’s oldest state, almost one in five residents are aged 65 or older. Since 2011, the median age of an Australian has increased from 37 to 38.

Growing cost of living pressures in capital cities

Average household weekly incomes increased by 16.5 per cent, from $1,234 in 2011 to $1,438. However, over the same period, median weekly rents increased by 17.5 per cent (from $285 to $335 today). Median rent is highest in Sydney ($440/week) and Darwin ($420/week).

The proportion of Australians renting has increased to 30.9 per cent (up from 29.6 per cent in 2011), while 34.5 per cent own their home with a mortgage (down from 34.9 per cent) and 31 per cent own outright (down from 32.1 per cent).

Median mortgage repayments are highest in Sydney, Darwin, and Canberra, where mortgage repayments are well over $2,000 per month. Perth, Sydney & Melbourne have the highest proportion of mortgage holders who spend more than 30 per cent of their income on their mortgage.

More than 1 in 5 Sydney-siders face ‘rental stress’ or ‘mortgage stress’

The housing crisis is felt most greatly in Australia’s largest city. Eight per cent of Sydneysiders face mortgage stress (paying more than 30 per cent of their pre-tax income on their mortgage), and a further 14 per cent face rental stress (paying more than 30 per cent of their income to the landlord). Combined, 22 per cent of Sydneysiders face significant housing affordability challenges.

Mark is an award-winning social researcher, who is regularly commissioned to deliver strategy and advice to the boards and executive committees of leading organisations in Australia and overseas. His research firm counts amongst its clients more than 100 of Australia’s largest companies and his highly valued reports and infographics have developed his regard as a data scientist, demographer, futurist and social commentator.


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