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Estimating a Consistent and Detailed Time Series of Immigration and Emigration for Sub-state Regions of Australia


The size and composition of the Australian population has shifted since the dismantling of the discriminatory White Australia Policy during the 1970s, yet its immigration system and border control remain highly regulated. Despite this, detailed information about the specific locations that immigrants arrive to or depart from within Australia are not available. The picture is further compounded by inconsistencies in the measurement of flows and geographic boundaries over time. To address these issues, we obtained available immigration and emigration flow data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics at the state and territory level, and developed methods to harmonise the available data, estimate missing elements and disaggregate to a sub-state geography. The methods are applied to 19 birthplace-specific populations across 47 areas in Australia for annual time periods from 1981 to 2016. This research addresses the need for more detailed estimates of demographic events so that a better understanding of the mechanisms and differences underlying regional population change may be provided.

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This study was funded by the Australian Research Council as part of the Discovery Project on ‘The Demographic Consequences of Migration to, from and within Australia’ (DP150104405).

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Correspondence to James Raymer.

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Table 2 Populations in Australia by country or region of birth, 2016
Fig. 9

Map of consistent geographic areas between 1981 and 2016 census years for Australia

Table 3 List of Australian geographic area codes and area names
Fig. 10

Average NOM to OAD immigration ratios by age and state or territory for females born in selected birthplaces, 2004-2008

Fig. 11

Average NOM to OAD emigration ratios by age and state or territory for females born in selected birthplaces, 2004-2008

Table 4 Proportions used to distribute state-level NOM arrivals (I) and departures (E) to sub-state regions in Australia: China-born females, 1981–1986, 1991–1996, 2001–2006 and 2011–2016

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Raymer, J., Bai, X., Liu, N. et al. Estimating a Consistent and Detailed Time Series of Immigration and Emigration for Sub-state Regions of Australia. Appl. Spatial Analysis (2019).

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  • International migration
  • Demographic estimation
  • Birthplace
  • Australia