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Projections of Australia’s migrant populations


Australia’s demography has been shaped to a large extent by its history of immigration. Various waves of immigration, including from many European countries in the immediate years after World War II and from a broader range of origins from the 1970s onwards, have created an ethnically and culturally diverse population today. In the coming decades this immigration history will bring major changes to Australia’s older population.

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Journal Articles

Wilson, T., Temple, J., Brijnath, B. et al. Projections of Older European Migrant Populations in Australia, 2016–56. Journal of Population Ageing (2021). 

Many of the European migrant populations which settled in Australia in the three decades after World War Two are now much older, and their aged care and health care needs are changing. While there is a considerable literature on individual aspects of ageing in many migrant groups (particularly as it pertains to culturally appropriate aged care), little research attention has been given to population aspects of ageing and its implications. The aim of this paper is to address this lacuna by presenting projections of Australia’s Europe-born older migrant population from 2016 to 2056. The population projections were created by a cohort-component model modified to accommodate multiple birthplace populations. Findings show the older Europe-born population is projected to experience a slight increase over the next few years, reach a peak of just under one million in the early 2030s, and then undergo a gradual decline thereafter. The Europe-born share of Australia’s 65+ population will fall, from 25.5% in 2016 to 10% by 2056. Populations born in Western and Southern Europe are likely to decline throughout the projection horizon while, the Northern Europe-born and Ireland-born older populations are projected to grow continually. The populations born in the UK and South Eastern Europe initially grow before decline sets in. To a large extent the future population size of these older migrant groups will be the result of cohort flow. We discuss the implications of the coming demographic changes for government policy and culturally appropriate service provision.

Wilson T, McDonald P, Temple J, Brijnath B, and Utomo A (2020): Past and Projected Growth of Australia’s Older Migrant Populations. Genus 76(20): 1-21. 

In recent years, Australia’s older population (aged 65 and over) has been growing rapidly, accompanied by a shift in its country of birth composition. Although a great deal of research has been undertaken on past and current aspects of Australia’s migrant groups, little attention has been paid to future demographic trends in older populations. The aim of this paper is to examine recent and possible future demographic trends of Australia’s migrant populations at the older ages. We present population estimates by country and broad global region of birth from 1996 to 2016, and then new birthplace-specific population projections for the 2016 to 2056 period. Our findings show that substantial growth of the 65+ population will occur in the coming decades, and that the overseas-born will shift from a Europe-born dominance to an Asia-born dominance. Cohort flow (the effect of varying sizes of cohorts moving into the 65+ age group over time) will be the main driver of growth for most older birthplace populations. The shifting demography of Australia’s older population signals many policy, planning, service delivery and funding challenges for government and private sector providers. We discuss those related to aged care, health care, language services, the aged care workforce, regulatory frameworks and future research needs in demography and gerontology.



Associate Professor Jeromey Temple, The University of Melbourne

Dr Tom Wilson, The University of Melbourne