Changes in net interstate migration (NIM) patterns to the Northern Territory: volume, geography and basic demography

Dean Carson

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

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    This research examined patterns in net interstate migration (NIM) to the Northern Territory (NT) since the 1960s. NIM is the difference between in-migration from other States and the ACT and out-migration to those places. ‘Positive NIM’ means in-migration exceeds outmigration. This research follows a similar exercise looking specifically at in-migration (Research Brief 02-2016). The aim was to identify key trends which could explain the current period of negative NIM (since 2010) and provide some insights into what could be done to improve the NIM situation.

    - An increasingly volatile environment for interstate migration has emerged in the NT over the past two decades, with periods of out-migration in particular becoming more pronounced.
    - There has been no single pattern of NIM that foretells a change in a NIM ‘era’. Moving from positive to negative eras (and vice versa) can occur as a result of changes in both in- and out-migration. Increased in-migration may even be associated with increasingly negative NIM. Therefore, forecasting changes in NIM based on past behaviour is very difficult.
    - Victoria and, to a lesser extent, New South Wales have been consistent sources of positive net migration since the 1970s, but in the past decade, their contribution has declined. This follows a similar path observed with South Australia and Western Australia in the early 2000s.
    - The NT appears to have become increasingly marginalised in the interstate migration ‘market’, having declining NIM relationships with all States.
    - Changing economic and labour market conditions may be reflected in the relative NIM performance of different parts of the NT, with remote regions being particularly vulnerable.
    - The ‘key target’ age group of 15-29 year olds has trended towards lower positive (and even negative) NIM since the 1980s, and no other age group has compensated for this decline.
    - There has been a notable gendering of NIM since the 1980s, with the NT now performing better with males than with females. Such a male bias has been shown to lead to increased demographic instability over time.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages12
    Specialist publicationResearch Briefs
    PublisherCharles Darwin University, The Northern Institute
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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