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Australia's population has hit 24 million -- 17 years ahead of schedule

Bondi Beach. Photo: Adam Pretty/ Getty.

In the last two years, Australia has added one million people to its population — the fastest pace this has ever happened.

Not to mention that in August 1999 the population wasn’t forecast to hit 24 million at least until 2033.

To celebrate the milestone, McCrindle has pulled together this list of some nifty facts you should know about the country’s rapid growth.

The population growth is fast, but so is the rest of the world’s

In 1968, Australia’s population reached 12 million, so it has taken 48 years since to double. Interestingly, in 1970, the global population was exactly half what it currently is at 7.3 billion and so the world has taken only slightly less time, 46 years, to double.

More than one third of Australians have seen both Australia and the world double in population size in their lifetime!

A million people added in record time

Australia reached 23 million on April 23, 2013 which means it has added its 24th million in 2 years, 9 months and 2 days. This is the first time that a million people has been added to Australia’s population in less than 3 years. From 1954 when the population hit 9 million, until 2003 when the population hit 20 million, each additional million was added in a time span of around 4 and a half years. From 20 to 23 million, the time span had decreased to add each million every 3 and a half years (keeping in mind the readjustment in the timing of Australia reaching 22 million which was altered due to population adjustments based on the results of the 2011 Census).

17 years ahead of schedule

When Australia’s population reached 19 million on 18 August 1999, the factors of population increase were such that the forecast was for the national population to reach 24 million in 2033. However rather than each new million being added every 7 to 9 years as was forecast based on the trends at the time, Australia is adding an extra million every 3 years (increasing from 21 million to 24 million in 8 years and 8 months).

More babies, more immigrants and longer lives

Not only has the fertility rate over the last decade been much higher than predicted (and the consequential record baby boom averaging 300,000 births per year), but the increase in life expectancy was also beyond these predictions. And while net migration numbers have been slowing over the last couple of years, growth from migration was, and still is above the forecasts of the late 20th Century.

What’s next for the country’s population?

As recently as 2009 the forecast was for the population to reach 36 million by 2050. However, even based on the more modest population growth rate of 1.5% (well below the highs of 1.9% achieved in recent years), Australia’s population will reach 40 million by mid-century, with the possibility of it being beyond 43 million (based on 1.7% annual growth).

We’re big, but everything is relative

While Australia’s population growth is significant in national terms, our new milestone of 24 million is small compared to the US population of 323 million. And in a global context, Australia’s share of the world’s population is just 0.32% – less than one-third of 1%!

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