Achieving population targets for Australia: an analysis of the options

Rebecca Kippen, Peter McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article reviews the role of migration in determining population size in Australia, and suggest ways of achieving a stationary population, or zero population growth (ZPG), when fertility is below replacement. There is a narrow range of feasible options. It is argued that achievement of ZPG is feasible only with net migration of 60,000-100,000 annually and with a fertility rate of 1.65-1.8 children/woman. Migration could be used to balance shortages of births. Under this scenario, population size would reach 24-26 million by about 2037, and stabilize at this level. The ZPG option was reached by conducting analyses that address 4 questions. The authors define 10 assumptions, 4 outcome measures of age distribution, the dependency ratio, and population turnover. Scenario 1 aims to reach the target population without a time constraint. Scenario 2 aims to stabilize population within 100 years with no constraint on population size. Scenario 3 aims to achieve a particular target stationary population within 100 years. Scenario 4 aims to achieve the population targets within 50 years and varying migration to maintain target population size. It is argued that using a lower target than 1.65 children/woman and zero migration would allow population size to decline to 12 million, but momentum would bring population size down to about 5.5 million in the next century. Allowing population to decline to very low levels without immigration would yield severe population aging. The proposed ideal option may not be attainable, if levels of fertility deviate widely, or emigration levels are not controlled.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-23
Number of pages13
JournalPeople and Place
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

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