Demystifying Population Statistics

Media release

This media release accompanies the Population and Migration: Understanding the Numbers Commission research paper released on 9 December 2010.

See also: Key points

The Productivity Commission has released a Research Paper - Population and Migration: Understanding the Numbers - to help demystify population statistics and clarify areas of confusion evident in the recent debate about immigration.

Commission chairman, Gary Banks, observed: 'In the recent debate about Australia's population growth many numbers have been cited, drawing on various demographic concepts, but these often seem contradictory or based on only part of the story.'

The paper highlights that net migration to Australia has grown strongly in recent years and is now the major contributor to Australia's population growth. The fastest growing component has been temporary migration, which has also made a material contribution to Australia's long-term population growth.

The Commission notes that future population levels are sensitive to even minor variations in fertility, mortality and migration flow and cannot be predicted with accuracy. While demographic projections based on different scenarios are helpful for analysis, they should not be regarded as forecasts of what will eventuate.

The Commission's report outlines some of the possible economic and social effects of immigration and population growth. These effects are diverse, depending on the source and composition of growth,and the context in which it occurs.

Background information
Lisa Gropp (Acting First Assistant Commissioner) 03 9653 2392
Leonora Nicol (Media and Publications) 02 6240 3239 / 0417 665 443