20 December 2021

2021 Population Statement

The Australian Government has today released the 2021 Population Statement providing new analysis of the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on Australia’s population.

The Statement also provides additional detail about the population estimates used in the 2021‑22 Mid‑Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

Australia’s population has already recorded the slowest growth in over 100 years and the Centre for Population’s annual Statement forecasts growth to remain low at 0.3 per cent in 2021‑22.

This largely reflects restrictions on international borders and the impact on net overseas migration — typically the main source of Australia’s population growth.

Net overseas migration is forecast to fall from a net inflow of 193,000 in 2019‑20 to a net outflow of 100,000 in 2020‑21, and a net outflow of 41,000 in 2021-22.

Australia’s population is projected to be 1.5 million smaller after 10 years, compared to projections made before COVID‑19.

While the outlook remains uncertain due to the unpredictability of COVID‑19, population growth is projected to increase to around 1.4 per cent by 2024-25 as overseas migration recovers.

In contrast to other developed countries, the Statement notes that COVID‑19 has so far had minimal impact on Australia’s birth and death rates.

The Statement provides a detailed picture of how population is changing in each state and territory. All states — other than the Northern Territory — are forecast to experience a drop in population growth in 2020‑21 compared to 2019‑20.

The Statement also provides population projections for Australia’s capital cities and rest-of-state areas.

In 2020-21, population growth is forecast to decline to -0.1 per cent for capital cities combined and 0.5 per cent growth for the rest-of-state areas combined.

Capital cities are forecast to return to higher growth rates than rest-of-state areas from 2022‑23 as restrictions are relaxed and overseas migration returns.

Melbourne is projected to be the fastest growing capital city from 2023‑24 onwards, overtaking Sydney to become the nation’s largest city in 2029‑30 at just over 5.9 million people.

The Statement examines the impact of lockdowns on internal migration, which led to a 9 per cent drop in interstate movements in 2020‑21 compared to 2019‑20.

The 2021 Population Statement provides all levels of government with a valuable evidence base to help with decision making as Australia reopens and population growth recovers. It also provides analysis of longer-term trends to help Australia prepare for demographic changes in the decades ahead.

The release of National, state and territory population by the Australian Bureau of Statistics updates the estimated resident population and revises recent population data that was used in the Statement.

The Population Statement and data projections are available on the Centre for Population website.