FactCheck: is Australia's population the 'highest growing in the world'?
Weâre the highest growing country in the world â" with 1.6% increase, and thatâs double than a lot of other countries.
â" One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, interview on Sky News Australia, May 9, 2018
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has proposed a plebiscite be held in tandem with the next federal election to allow voters to have âa say in the level of migration coming into Australiaâ.
Hanson has suggested cutting Australiaâs Migration Programme cap from the current 190,000 people per year to around 75,000-100,000 per year.
On Sky News, Hanson said Australia is âthe highest growing country in the worldâ.
The senator added that at 1.6%, Australiaâs population growth was âdouble [that of] a lot of other countriesâ.
Are those statements correct?
Checking the source
In response to The Conversationâs request for sources and comment, a spokesperson for Pauline Hanson said the senator âtalks about population growth in the context of our high level of immigration because in recent years, immigration has accounted for around 60% of Australiaâs population growthâ.
The spokesperson added:
Australian Bureau of Statistics migration data for 2015-16 show that Australians born overseas represent 28% of the population, far higher than comparable countries like Canada (22%), UK (13%) or the US (14%).
World Bank data for 2017 show that Australiaâs population growth was 1.6%, much higher than comparable countries with immigration programs like Canada (1.2%), the UK (0.6%) and the US (0.7%).
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson was correct to say Australiaâs population grew by 1.6% in the year to June 2017. But she was incorrect to say Australia is âthe highest gr owing country in the worldâ.
According to the most accurate international data, the country with the fastest growing population is Oman, on the Arabian Peninsula.
Senator Hanson said Australiaâs 1.6% population growth was âdouble than a lot of other countriesâ. It is fair to say that Australiaâs population growth rate is double that of many other countries, including the United States (0.7%) and United Kingdom (0.7%), for example.
Since Hansonâs statement, Australiaâs population growth rate for the period ending June 2017 has been revised upwards to 1.7%. But Hansonâs number was correct at the time of her statement, and the revision doesnât change the outcome of this FactCheck.
In terms of the 35 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Luxemberg was the fastest growing country in 2016, with Australia coming in fifth.
Caution must be used when making international population comparisons. Itâs important to put the growth rates in the context of the total size, density and demographic makeup of the population, and the economic stage of the country.
How do we calculate population growth?
A countryâs population growth, or decline, is determined by the change in the estimated number of residents. Those changes include the number of births and deaths (known as natural increase), and net overseas migration.
In Australia, both temporary and permanent overseas migrants are included in the calculation of population size.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, Australiaâs population grew by 1.6% in the year to June 2017 â" as Senator Hanson said.
Since Hansonâs statement, Australiaâs population growth rate for the period ending June 2017 has been revised upwards to 1.7%. But as said in the verdict, Hansonâs number was correct at the time of her statement, and the revision doesnât change any of the other out comes of this FactCheck.
Thatâs an increase of 407,000 people in a population of 24.6 million.
All states and territories saw positive population growth in the year to June 2017, with Victoria recording the fastest growth rate (2.4%), and South Australia recording the slowest growth rate (0.6%).
Read more: FactCheck: is South Australia's youth population rising or falling?
Is Australiaâs population the âhighest growing in the worldâ?
No, itâs not.
There are different ways of reporting population data.
Population projections are statements about future populations based on certain assumptions regarding the future of births, deaths and migration.
Population estimates are statistics based on data from a population for a previous time period. Population estimates provide a more accurate representation of actual dynamics.
Wor ld Bank data for 2016 (based on population estimates) provide us with the most accurate international comparison.
According to those data, Australiaâs growth rate â" 1.5% for 2016 â" placed it at 86th in the world. The top 10 ranked countries grew by between 3-5%.
How does Australiaâs growth compare to other OECD countries?
Comparison of Australiaâs average annual population growth with other OECD countries shows Australiaâs rate of population growth is among the highest in the OECD, but not the highest.
This is true whether we look at annual averages for five year bands between 1990 and 2015, or single year data.
Looking again at the World Bank data, Australiaâs rate of population growth for 2016, at 1.5%, was double that of many other OECD countries, including the United Kingdom (0.7%) and United States (0.7%).
Permanent vs temporary migration levels
Hanson has proposed a national vote on what she desc ribes as Australiaâs ârun away rates of immigrationâ.
The senator has suggested reducing Australiaâs Migration Programme cap from the current level of 190,000 people per year to 75-100,000 people per year. The expected intake of 190,000 permanent migrants was not met over the last few years. Permanent migration for 2017-18 has dropped to 162,400 people, due to changes in vetting processes.
The greatest contribution to the growth of the Australian population (63%) currently comes from overseas migration, as Hansonâs office noted in their response to The Conversation.
The origin countries of migrants are becoming more diverse, posing socioeconomic benefits and infrastructure challenges for Australia.
Sometimes people confuse net overseas migration (the total of all people moving in and out of Australia in a certain time frame), with permanent migration (the number of people who come to Australia to live). They are not the sa me thing.
Net overseas migration includes temporary migration. And net overseas migration is included in population data. This means our population growth reflects our permanent population, plus more.
Temporary migrants are a major contributor to population growth in Australia â" in particular, international students.
In the most recent data (2014-15), net temporary migrants numbered just under 132,000, a figure that included just over 77,000 net temporary students.
The international student market is Australiaâs third largest export.
Looking back at Australiaâs population growth
Population changes track the history of the nation. This includes events like post-war rebuilding â" including the baby boom and resettlement of displaced European nationals â" to subsequent fluctuations in birth rates, and net overseas migration.
We can see these events reflected in the rates of growth from 1945 to the present.
The rate of population growth in Australia increased markedly in 2007, before peaking at 2.1% in 2009 (after the height of the global financial crisis, in which the Australian economy fared better than many others).
Since 2009, annual population growth has bounced around between a low of 1.4% and a high of 1.8%.
The longer term average for population growth rates since 1947 is 1.6% (the same as it is currently).
Interpreting population numbers
Itâs worth remembering that a higher growth rate per annum coming from a lower population base is usually still lower growth in terms of actual numbers of people, when compared to a lower growth rate on a higher population base.
There can also be significant fluctuations in population growth rates from year to year â" so we need to use caution when making assessments based on changes in annual rates.
Economic factors, government policies, and special events are just some of the things that ca n influence year-on-year population movements.
Other factors we should consider when making international comparisons include the:
- total size of the population
- population density
- demographic composition, or age distribution, of the population, and
- the economic stage of the country (for example, post industrialisation or otherwise).
Any changes to the migration program should be considered alongside the best available research. â" Liz Allen
The FactCheck is fair and correct.
The statement about Australiaâs population growth rate over the year to June 30, 2017, is correct. The preliminary growth rate published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics at the time of Senator Hansonâs statement was 1.60%; the rate was subsequently revised to 1.68%.
It is also true that many developed countries have lower population growth rates than Australia, but some have higher rates. According to United Nations Population Division population estimates, Oman had the fastest growing population between 2014 and 2015 (the latest data available).
With regards to misinterpretations of net overseas migration, it should also be stated that some people think this refers to the number of people migrating to Australia. It is actually immigration minus emigration - the difference between the number arriving and the number leaving. â" Tom Wilson
The Conversationâs FactCheck unit was the first fact-checking team in Australia and one of the first worldwide to be accredited by the Internatio nal Fact-Checking Network, an alliance of fact-checkers hosted at the Poynter Institute in the US. Read more here.
Have you seen a âfactâ worth checking? The Conversationâs FactCheck asks academic experts to test claims and see how true they are. We then ask a second academic to review an anonymous copy of the article. You can request a check at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the statement you would like us to check, the date it was made, and a link if possible.Source: Google Australia | Netizen 24 Australia