The Demographic Constraints on Future Population Growth in Regional Australia

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Concern about rapid population growth in Australia's large cities and slower growth in many non-metropolitan areas has stimulated a range of government policies attempting to lift non-metropolitan growth rates. However, there is relatively little research on which to base these policies. It would be helpful to understand more about the consequences of current demographic trends continuing and the effects of alternative migration patterns. This paper presents sub-national population projections for Australia over the horizon 2011–2041, basing the projections on more socially meaningful Remoteness Areas instead of common statistical geographies. Three sets of projections were generated: a Current Direction scenario in which recent demographic trends are maintained, a Regional Immigration scenario in which more immigrants settle in regional and remote areas, and a Metro Exodus scenario in which there is increased internal migration from metropolitan to non-metropolitan areas. The future of Australia's population geography is shown to be one of spatially varying growth and population ageing, and continued metropolitanisation. In regional areas rapid population ageing will lower natural increase rates and thus reduce overall growth, resulting in a falling share of the national population. Policy measures attempting to increase the share of growth in regional areas will struggle against natural demographic forces operating in the opposite direction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-111
Number of pages21
JournalAustralian Geographer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


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