Census shows 49% of population either first- or second-generation migrants, with remaining 51% at least third generation
Australia’s population is approaching a tipping point, with nearly as many first- or second-generation migrants as people who are at least third-generation Australians.
The 2016 census results, published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday, reveal the changing impact of migration.
Nearly half (49%) of all Australians were either born overseas (first generation) or have at least one parent born overseas (second generation). The remaining 51% were at least third generation – born in Australia to Australian-born parents.
Fifty years ago, the overseas-born population was only 18% of the total. At that time, a third (32%) were born in England, with only 1.6% from India and China combined. In the 2016 census, for the first time, most people born overseas were from Asia, not Europe.
Countries of birth, 1966-2016
% overseas-born population
Even within second-generation Australians, demographic splits are beginning to emerge, with those aged 40 and under more likely to be of Asian ethnicity and those over 40 more likely to have both parents born in a European country.
As of 2015, Australia had the ninth-largest number of overseas-born people of any country, and the highest proportion of its population, at 26% – ahead of New Zealand (23%) and Canada (22%), the bureau found.
The median age of Australia’s overseas-born population was 44, compared with 34 among those born in Australia. The ABS linked this to large-scale migration waves from Europe after the second world war.
Those born in Asia had a median age of 35, reflecting the increase in migration from China, India, Vietnam and the Philippines since 1975. Of the overseas-born population, nearly one in five (18%) had arrived since the start of 2012.
The top five most commonly reported countries of birth among the 26% of Australians born overseas were England (14.7%), New Zealand (8.4%, down from 9.1% in 2011), China (8.3%, up from 6%), India (7.4%, up from 5.6%) and the Philippines (3.8%).
Over 40% of the overseas-born population spoke only English at home in 2016, with Mandarin the second-most commonly spoken language, at 8.3%.
Most overseas-born Australians (61%) lived in New South Wales and Victoria, though there has been a notable increase in the proportion in Queensland (from 9.5% to 16.5% in 2016) and Western Australia (from 9.3% to 12.9%) since 1966.
Online Source: The Guardian