Journal of Population Research

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 319–346 | Cite as

Measuring the spatial integration of the China-born population in Australia, 1981–2016

  • Qing GuanEmail author


The China-born population have a long history of migrating to and settling in Australia, and have recently grown to become the third largest overseas-born population. To measure their integration in Australia, a spatial perspective is adopted in this paper. Spatial distribution is an important indicator of immigrants’ integration in the host country and is linked to their socioeconomic integration. It is generally agreed that the more concentrated immigrants distribute, the less integrated socioeconomically they are; the more immigrants’ spatial distribution patterns mirror the local population, the more integrated they are. Distributions of mainland Chinese population at sub-national levels are examined. Using coefficient of variation and index of dissimilarity, spatial integration patterns of the China-born population in Australia are analyzed over time, across age groups and immigrant cohorts, and against those of other birthplace groups using 1981–2016 Australian census data. Changes in the distribution of China-born immigrants substantiate the ‘contrasting’ dispersion-concentration picture uncovered in earlier Australian censuses. With the influx of international students and skilled migrants, results from spatial integration analyses show a slow but uninterrupted improvement in the China-born immigrants’ spatial integration after the 2001 Census. In the spatial analysis across immigrant cohorts, it is found that the interaction between cohort characteristics and lengths of residence in Australia is likely an important factor influencing the spatial distribution patterns of mainland Chinese. Findings of the study contribute to the knowledge of immigrants’ spatial distribution and integration in the host country, especially in the context of Australia and a context of broader Chinese diaspora in major immigration countries.


Mainland Chinese migrants Australia Spatial integration Index of dissimilarity Coefficient of variation 



This research is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship. The authors would like to thank James Raymer, Barbara Edgar, the Australian Population Association 2017 Borrie Prize judges, and the two anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions on various versions of this paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Demography, ANU College of Arts and Social SciencesThe Australian National UniversityActonAustralia

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