Nearly 30% of people living in Australia were born in another country

James D. Morgan/Getty Images
  • The proportion of Australia’s population born overseas rose to the highest level since the late 1800s, according to new data released by ABS.
  • 29.4% of the estimated resident population were born in another country.
  • The highest proportion were born in England, although China and India are catching up fast.
  • Over a third of Western Australia’s population were born overseas, the highest in the country. The proportion of overseas born residents has increased in every state and territory over the past decade.

The proportion of Australia’s population born overseas rose last year to the highest level since the late 1800s, according to new data released by ABS on Wednesday.

7.3 million people, or 29.4% of the estimated resident population, were born in another country in 2018, increasing by around 200,000 from 12 months earlier.

“Australia’s multicultural society is made up of migrants born in every country around the world,” said Neil Scott, Assistant Director of Migration Statistics at the ABS.

“Although almost 18 million Australians were born here, our society is continuing to become more culturally diverse over time.”

This chart from the ABS shows the proportion of the population born overseas back to when data was first collated in the late 19th century.

ABS

After steadily declining in the early 20th century, the proportion of the population born overseas started to climb following the end of World War II, largely reflecting increased migration from Europe and, more recently, Asia.

“England, at 992,000, continue to be the largest group of overseas-born living in Australia. However, this has dropped from a peak of just over a million in 2013,” the ABS said.

“China, with 651,00, remained in second place from 2017 with strong growth since 2002. India, at 592,000, moved into third place, dropping the New Zealand born down to fourth place at 568,000.”

This chart shows the countries where most Australian residents were born, including the proportional change over the past decade.

ABS

While England still tops the list by some margin, it appears likely, at least based on recent trends, that the top spot will eventually be replaced China and India, two of the world’s most populous nations.

Although most new arrivals to Australia continue to settle in Australia’s most populous states — New South Wales and Victoria — the proportion of overseas-born population has increased in all states and territories over the past decade.

Western Australia, at 35%, had the highest proportion of overseas born population last year, followed by Victoria and New South Wales at 31% and 30% respectively.

Tasmania, at 13%, had the lowest proportion of overseas born population of any state and territory.

The full ABS report can be accessed here.

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