Australia's Population Set To Reach 25 Million, 24 Years Earlier Than Expected

It was previously predicted Australia would hit 25 million people in 2042.

It's set to be a big week for the Australian population and we mean that literally.

At around 11pm on Tuesday August 7 Australia's population clock will tick over to 25 million people. It was predicted in the 2002 Intergenerational Report that we'd reach this milestone in 2042, but we've managed to out do ourselves and get there 24 years earlier than expected.

How We Know Exactly When We Will Hit 25 Million

There's a number of things that go into predicting when the clock will tick over into a new million and they include taking into account how many people are born and have died in Australia and how many people come and go.

Calculations from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) are based on Australia's population as of December 2017 and assumes growth since then based on:

  • one birth every one minute and 42 seconds
  • one death every three minutes and 16 seconds
  • one person arriving to live in Australia every one minute and one second
  • one Australian resident leaving Australia to live overseas every one minute and 51 seconds
Image: McCrindle

These are measured against each other to determine the overall population growth which is an increase of one person every one minute and 83 seconds.

Who Will Australia's 25 Millionth Person Be?

There will be no official 25 millionth Australian and it could be a new born baby or a newly arrived migrant.

According to the ABS, net overseas migration accounts for 62 percent of Australia's total growth, with the other 38 percent from natural increase. From these stats we can see that is it more likely Australia's 25 millionth person will likely be a migrant.

How Did We Grow So Quickly?

The total Australian population has doubled since 1970 and increased by around six times since Federation in 1901, rising from 3.8 million to nearly 25 million today.

"What we really attribute the growth to is the migration policy changes over time as well as longevity increases and life expectancy increasing more than we predicted ... we have less people dying because the natural increase is a big part of that in terms of the number of births and the number of deaths," Ashley Fell Head of Communications at McCrindle told ten daily.

"Back when the predictions were made, net migration was contributing to less than half of our growths, now it is almost contributing two thirds of our growth."

Image: McCrindle.

Fell attributed higher fertility rates than predicted as another reason for Australia's speedy population growth. She also highlighted that migration, while the main driver for population growth, does benefit Australia in other ways.

"Migration is definitely viewed in a positive light in terms of economic growth. So our economy really relies on migration as a key economic driver... for economic purposes it is a real benefit to Australia, this overseas migration," Fell said.

More Australians In Our Country's Future

We are expected to hit future milestones fairly quickly. Australia is set to be at 26 million by 2020, at 30 million by 2030 and at a whopping 40 million by the year 2048.

Melbourne is Australia's fastest growing city and is expected to hit the 6 million person mark in 2025, the year Sydney is expected to reach the same milestone. Melbourne will then take over Sydney as Australia's largest city in 2026.

Image: McCrindle.

"We are now playing a little bit of catch up when it comes to our infrastructure and our city planning based on what we were expecting," Fell told ten daily.

"The large capitals are experiencing these growing pains because ... Sydney and Melbourne [are on track] to be at 8 million in the middle of the century which is where London is currently at."

"Ask anyone in the cities and they feel the pain in terms of school waiting lists and the traffic and the public transport and even pricing and affordability."

Better Planning For Growth Needed To Manage Higher Populations

Of course,there are challenges that come with more people living in cities that weren't designed to accommodate such large volumes of people. Congestion, affordability and housing prices make-up just a few pressure points that people living in urban centres know all too well.

Without proper management vertical communities will continue to rise, literally. Image: Getty Images.

"If we don't change then it is just going to be continually these vertical communities," Fell said.

"I mean we can only push out so far in our capitals and obviously we have that change happening now.  Increasing cities to try and get more people in, this increase in density that we are seeing in Sydney and Melbourne to try and handle this population growth [won't work forever]."

While we try and play catch up with our infrastructure in the main capitals, Fell said giving people viable options to move out into rural areas could be a good start to spreading populations out.

"For us [at McCrdindle], what we see as the solution is decentralising the population and getting regional growth right so we are balancing our population to areas that are outside of Sydney or Melbourne."

Get in touch with Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au