Australia’s Population Rising Despite Migration Slowdown

Net overseas migration for 2017 was less by 1.4 percent than that recorded for 2016, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.


Australia’s population is growing despite decrease in net immigration numbers as compared to previous years, according to the latest demographic figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on June 20.

The country’s resident population was about 24.8 million as on Dec. 31, 2017, marking an increase of 388,000 people, or 1.6 percent, since Dec. 31, 2016. The population is projected to exceed 25 million by August 2018, according to ABS projections.

The net overseas migration for 2017 (240,400 people) was less by 1.4 percent than that recorded for year before (243,800 people). It accounted for around 62 percent of the increase in the country’s total population.

Total arrivals rose by 9,700 to 529,400 over the year, marking an increase of 1.9 percent. Departures, on the other hand, were recorded at 288,900, up from 275,800 the previous year, making it an increase of 4.8 percent.

Almost 85,000 people left Australia in the last three months of 2017. The figure is almost 9,000 more than that in the same period in 2016, ABC News reported. The “preliminary” figures show a “significant increase” in the number of foreign students moving out of Australia, Anthony Grubb, the director of demography at the ABS, told the publication.

While Australian citizens moving abroad have comprised about one-third of the departures in recent years, almost half of the people who left the country were temporary visa holders like overseas students, foreign backpackers and 457 visa workers who finished their stay term, according to ABC News.

“Net overseas migration usually slows in the December quarter although this was the largest slowdown in several years,” Commonwealth Bank of Australia economist, Kristina Clifton, was quoted as saying by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The tightening of Australia’s visa policies may have a role to play in the increased number of departures from the country, experts feel. “The people who are here from countries with equivalent living standards, where they have a choice of going back to another good job, maybe some of those people have formed a view that they don’t want the uncertainty that Australia is presenting with them presently about their residency status,” Leanne Stevens, national vice president of the Migration Institute of Australia, said, ABC News reported.

International student enrolments have, however, been increasing over the years in Australia. The number rose from around 300,000 five years ago to 540,000 in February this year, the publication reported, citing Department of Education figures. The number of Indians applying to study in Australia increased by 32 percent between July and December 2017, according to statistics released by the Australian Department of Home Affairs earlier this year. The number of foreign students applying to pursue higher education in Australia was up by 14.1 per cent between July and December 2017 as compared to the same period in 2016, the figures showed.

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