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Population and Migration: Understanding the Numbers


  • Commission, Productivity

    () (Productivity Commission)


Australia is largely a nation of immigrants. From the First Fleet to the post-war wave of assisted passages, to the present day, migration has always been at the centre of this country’s development. As time has passed, however, and our population has grown and spread, it is natural that the consensus that we must ‘populate or perish’ would give way to more diverse and nuanced perspectives about migration and population growth, and the policy implications. Debate has ebbed and flowed over the years and flared up again in the lead-up to the federal election. However, that debate arguably was not as well informed by the facts as the topic deserves. Many numbers were cited, drawing on various demographic concepts, but these often appeared contradictory or based on only part of the story. As a consequence, the public is likely to have been left confused, bemused or misled on what is a key public policy issue. In this Research Paper, the Commission has sought to improve the information base for public discussion by describing the main demographic trends and what lies behind them. That said, it does not seek to be exhaustive, but rather to focus on those features that seem most important.

Suggested Citation

  • Commission, Productivity, 2010. "Population and Migration: Understanding the Numbers," Research Papers 101, Productivity Commission, Government of Australia.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:prodrp:2010_001

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    Cited by:

    1. Richard V. Burkhauser & Markus H. Hahn & Matthew Hall & Nicole Watson, 2016. "Australia Farewell: Predictors of Emigration in the 2000s," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 35(2), pages 197-215, April.

    More about this item


    immigration; population; migration; population growth;

    JEL classification:

    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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