Is Melbourne’s population going to overtake Sydney’s?

Glenn - The Census Expert

Glenn is an ABS data expert with huge intellect and capacity to convert demographic data into profound insights about places. He has contributed numerous blogs and consulting projects covering economic development, housing consumption and affordability, migration, fertility, ageing, role and function of ‘place’, communities of interest and more. Glenn works with over 120 councils bringing the client perspective into the development of our information products. He is a Census data expert, having worked at the Australian Bureau of Statistics for 10 years. If there's anything Glenn doesn't know about the Census, it's probably not worth knowing - so ask Glenn!

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6 Responses

  1. Simone says:

    The “Melbourne vs Sydney population growth” saga runs back quite a few years – Bernard Salt said something similar in 2007 which caused a bit of a stir in the media – http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/11/12/2087830.htm

    He did exactly the same thing – merely extrapolated the volume of growth forward, concluding that Melbourne’s population would overtake Sydney’s in 2028.

    However, as you have rightly pointed out Glenn, this is a very simplistic way of forecasting, and, if I may add – unrealistic. Differences in the demographic components such as the age structure, migration, births and deaths also play a role in determining future populations. id’s forecasts consider these, as well as land supply, housing demand and household formation, in preparing our forecasts.

  2. Paul says:

    On the other hand, if Melb was allowed to include areas 100 kms from the GPO in the statistical division, then it is possible Melb is already bigger. (eg Geelong has a pop of about 185k people).

  3. Glenn Capuano says:

    That’s quite possible, but then to be fair, you’d have to include Wollongong and parts of the Hunter in Sydney’s population too, which are a similar distance from Sydney – Wollongong/Shellharbour alone has an urban population of about 270,000, which would push Sydney back above Melbourne.

    http://www.id.com.au/profile/wollongong
    http://www.id.com.au/profile/shellharbour

    As always, it depends where you draw the boundaries…

  4. damon says:

    absolutely rediculous that sydney claims picton and balcheath as part of its metropolitan area. take away those areas and the populations are probably less than 300,000. based on georapic land supply, well, just take a look next time you fly into both cities. melbourne has 200 years of surplus land supply, whilst sydney has effectively reached its limitations in all directions. it will be beyond all of our lifetimes, but melbourne will defiinately be physically larger and the population will be far beyond sydney from 2060 onwards.

  5. Glenn says:

    Thanks Damon,

    I agree that Picton and Blackheath are a long way out – statistically at the moment though they don’t add much to Sydney’s population. The inclusion of Central Coast is far more significant (over 300,000 people). Don’t forget that Melbourne also goes a long way out, including Portsea, Bunyip and Warburton, all 80-100km from the city. And with the new ABS geography, Gisborne, Bacchus Marsh and Wallan go into the Melbourne Greater Capital City area too.

  6. Ryan says:

    Melbourne has a long way to go in terms of becoming the largest urban area of Australia. Sydney really does stretch from Wollongong to Newcastle because it is a continuous urban area. The Melbourne-Geelong area is also very large. The Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong combined area has about 5 million people and Melbourne-Geelong combine to be around 4.2 million. Newcastle and Wollongong are also experiencing population growth so before Melbourne can truly take the mantle its combined urban area population will have to greater than the Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong population.

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