The changing shape of Australia’s overseas-born population

Population and Societies

545, June 2017

Immigration to Australia was dominated by migrants from the United Kingdom or continental Europe for a period of almost two centuries. In the late twentieth century, however, the composition of the overseas-born population began to change dramatically, as shown by Tom Wilson and James Raymer in their analysis of the period 1981 to 2011.

In Australia, the size, age-sex structure and origins of the overseas-born population underwent a dramatic transformation between 1981 and 2011. From largely settlement migrants from the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, immigration to Australia now hails from a much greater range of origins than previously. The overseas-born population has also grown older, and its structure is changing with successive inflows and outflows; many immigrants eventually return home or move elsewhere. Since the 1990s, the proportion of temporary migrants (students, business visa holders, and working holidaymakers) has increased

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