Journal of Population Research

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 1–21 | Cite as

The socio-economic status of migrant populations in regional and rural Australia and its implications for future population policy

  • Simon J. L. Massey
  • Nick ParrEmail author


The migrant population living in regional and rural Australia has been growing, partly because of the introduction and expansion of a number of state-specific and regional migration programs by the Australian Government over the period since 1995. The programs were created in response to both the skill shortages in regional and rural Australia and environmental and social critiques of urban migration. This study uses data from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing in Australia to compare five socio-economic measures: labour force participation, unemployment, income, educational attainment, and occupational status, between the migrant and Australia-born populations. The results reveal that the migrant population in regional and rural Australia now records similar values for the labour force participation rate, unemployment rate, median individual weekly income, and proportion in high skill level occupations to the Australia-born population. The most notable difference is that migrants have a substantially higher level of education, particularly university education. The differences between men and women on these socio-economic measures are wider for the migrant population than for the Australia-born. Recently-arrived migrants are significantly more educated, more highly skilled and higher paid than their longer-standing counterparts. The study also discusses the differences between the larger migrant groups living in regional and rural Australia. The improvement in the socio-economic outcomes experienced by the migrant population of regional and rural Australia and their broad similarity to those of the Australia-born living in these regions strengthen the case for increasing the proportion of migrant settlers going to these regions.


Migrants Census Regional and rural Australia Socio-economic status Labour force participation rate Unemployment rate Income Educational attainment Occupational status 



Support for this research was provided by Macquarie University through the Honours Writing Fellowship program; we are very grateful for their assistance. We would also like to acknowledge the two anonymous referees for their helpful comments. This study uses data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006 Census and was accessed using the Table Builder program. The findings and views reported in this paper, however, are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science & Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marketing and Management, Faculty of Business and EconomicsMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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