Long-term population trends

Australia's population will continue to grow, though at slightly slower rates than over the past 40 years. This is an inevitable consequence of population trends evident for many decades. Sustainable population growth assists in managing the pressures of an ageing population by providing people that have the skills and innovation needed for continued economic growth, but also poses challenges in areas such as infrastructure, service delivery and the environment.

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Over the past 40 years the population has grown at an average annual rate of 1.4 per cent per annum taking Australia's total population to an expected 22 million in 2010.

Over the next 40 years, the rate of population growth is expected to slow to 1.2 per cent on average per annum.

This reflects a broadly stable fertility rate of 1.9 births per woman and continuation of net overseas migration at an average annual rate of 0.6 per cent of the total population — the same rate as over the last 40 years.

Based on these trends Australia's population is projected to reach 35.9 million in 2050.

Population growth, by supporting reduced ageing of the population and adding to the labour force, benefits the Australian economy but puts pressure on infrastructure, services and the environment.

Challenges of population growth can be managed, provided governments continue to plan well ahead of time for infrastructure, housing and service delivery needs.

The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and other environmental reforms, such as water reform, will assist in ensuring population and economic growth are consistent with sustainability of the environment.

Countries with low population growth face more extreme ageing challenges, with greater demands for publicly‑funded social services and a reduced ability to meet these challenges.

Japan's low rate of population growth is projected to result in a doubling of the number of people aged 65 or older relative to those of working age.

Australia's population history and projections

Australia's population history and projections

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