Australian population growing, economy booming.
Australia is in the middle of a population boom that promises to fuel economic growth for years to come. Figures this week showed population growth topped 2 percent in the year to March, the fastest pace on record and the highest of any advanced economy. Up to 60 percent more Australians are predicted in the next forty years, in sharp contrast to countries like Japan and Germany where populations are shrinking.
“While Europe and Japan are stagnating, Australia is moving ahead,” said James Craig, chief economist at CommSec. “More people translates to increased spending and demand for homes, and as a result, increased momentum for our economy.”
Migration, and skilled migration in particular, have played significant roles, along with a rising birth-rate. Net migration of 278,200 was the highest annual figure since 1788. The natural rate of increase, or births minus deaths, also hit a fecund 15 percent.
This maybe influenced by the fact that Australians, in contrast to Brits, are much more likely to marry and settle down. In fact, the number of Australians tying the knot has hit a 20-year high, throwing the equivalent numbers in Britain into stark relief.
Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicate that 118,756 marriages took place there last year, up 2.1 per cent on 2007 and up 12 per cent on a low of 104,000 in 2001, taken over an estimated population of about 21,885,000.
In comparison, there were 270,000 marriages in 2007 in Britain, from a population of roughly 60.5 million at the time (now estimated to be closer to 61 million). This was the lowest since statistics on this subject were first compiled in 1862. The nuptial bottom line is an Australian marriage rate that is an estimated 19 per cent higher than that of the UK.
Australia’s population jumped by a record 439,100 in the year to March ‘09. That growth rate of 2.1 percent was faster than the United Sates, Canada, almost all of Europe, China, India, Singapore, South Korea and Japan.
The impact of all these new people has been crucial for the Australian housing market, which has avoided the double-digit price losses seen in the U.S. and UK that have crippled consumer confidence and left banks laden with bad debt.
The resilience of house prices was one reason the Australian economy managed to grow over the first half of this year, even while most other developed economies wallowed in recession.
The Australian government now estimates Australia’s population will jump to 35 million by 2049 from the current 21.9 million and compared with a previous forecast of 28 million.
Japan’s population is forecast to fall by a quarter over the same period.
Australia’s Housing Industry Association (HIA) reckons an extra 70,000 homes need to be built every year. Clearly, this creates urgent demand for all trades and professions engaged in the building industry, a demand that will be met in high degree by skilled immigrants.
More people also means more workers and, potentially, more economic output. Even if gross domestic product (GDP) per head remained steady, such an increase would double the country’s annual economic output to A$2 trillion ($1.7 trillion). Assume past rates of annual growth, and it easily tops A$3 trillion.
Policy makers have also concentrated on welcoming skilled migrants, greatly easing what had been a major handicap for business in Australia.
The majority of immigrants are generally young, thus reducing the problem of an ageing population, a common problem in the developed world. With tax breaks, generous leave and help with child care, Australian governments have actively encouraged Aussies to have more children.
For the Australian government, more people of working age means more potential tax payers.
“So many countries are shrinking and that poses a real problem in terms of having a strong tax base for the future and a strong economy,” Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said.
Australia is the 12th largest country in the world and only 55th in terms of population. Explanation? Much of it is uninhabitable desert or bone-dry bush.
Thus, there are those who speak against boosting the nation’s population.
“Sleepwalking into an environmental disaster,” was how one of Labour’s own lawmakers reacted to the population predictions.
In contrast to the nay-sayers, economists are optimistic.
“Yes, there’s a danger of overcrowding, shortages etc., damaging our quality of life,” said Brian Redican, senior economist at Macquarie. “But other countries have managed it.”
“As long as its planned for with more spending on roads, schools, hospitals and such, it should be very positive for economic growth.”
This might explain in part how Australia was so slightly affected by the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), riding out the storm better than any other developed economy. The rest of the explanation is probably linked to the nation’s enormous reserves of natural resources and the urgent demand for them from strong countries like China.
However, in response to the GFC and its possible negative affect on employment, the Australian Government did reduce the 2009/2010 Australian skilled migration allocation to 108,100 places, down from a record high of 133,100 at the start of 2009. It seems likely this maybe adjusted upwards in the short to medium term. But right now, the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is targeting skilled immigrants in the health, IT and engineering sectors and is giving state/territory governments and employers greater scope for nominating skilled migrants to fill jobs they need filled most urgently.
Prospective migrants still have several options open for making the move to Australia to establish themselves in a long-term career and a great lifestyle, in the peace and prosperity of a country whose future looks even better than its past.
Although well over 100,000 skilled migrants will be accepted into Australia even in the current budget period, the shortfall caused by that cut will be magnified as recovery continues. If you want to move to Australia, or think you might in the future, consult an online Australian visa advisor, or see how in demand your trade or profession is, simply by checking out the priority lists, and then accessing an assessment.
Anyone considering a move to Australia, might be well-advised to select a reputable, proven and successful Australian visa advisory specialist and start researching that lucky country’s opportunities both current, and imminent.
This could be the direct route to helping Australia’s population grow and to benefiting from its booming economy.
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