Migration between capital cities and regional Australia
The ABS has a new dataset which is great for analyzing where people are moving across Australia. It’s called “RIME”, or the Regional Internal Migration Estimates. This is still experimental, but it’s being produced every year. We currently have data from 2006-7 to 2013-14.
I recently presented at the Australian Regional Development Conference. Whenever I present in Regional Australia, one question recurs quite alot – “How can we increase our population?”. While many metropolitan areas are worried about providing services to ever growing populations, many regional areas would welcome more people. This is one of the reasons I think regional areas need to do more to attract migrants, including taking a large share of refugee communities.
But a lot of discussion at the conference was about how regional areas can attract population from capital cities. Let’s see what RIME says.
This chart shows the relative split of population by state and territory. The orange bars are the regional (ex-metropolitan) part of state. See how NSW and Queensland make up the majority of Australia’s population living outside a capital city? They are relatively more dispersed than other states. Actually Tasmania is the most dispersed but its population is very small.
This table shows the mismatch between the amount of population growth going to regional areas, compared to the amount of population living in them. So for instance in NSW, 36.7% of population lives outside Sydney, but only 25.1% of growth occurred there in the 2009-2014 period, a mismatch of 10.6%. Victoria is particularly interesting, with 87% of all the state’s growth being in the Greater Melbourne region.
|State||Regional part of state share of growth||Mismatch to share of population|
But this is beginning to change. What the regional migration estimates show for 2013/14 is that there is a significant shift, but it’s only affecting one metropolitan area – Sydney. Is it congestion, extremely high housing prices, or just the presence of larger regional centres with strong economies? But people are leaving Sydney in significant numbers, and moving to regional NSW, Melbourne and Regional Victoria.
In just one year, Greater Sydney had a net migration loss of nearly 15,000 people. This is more than offset by the large amount of overseas migration the city receives, but it was by far the largest loss to internal migration, and you can see a lot of it is into regional NSW. In contrast, Melbourne is growing but Regional Victoria added more people through internal migration. Again, Melbourne gains a lot of overseas migrants to make up for it. Elsewhere in the country, Adelaide also lost people, as did Tasmania outside Hobart, while both Darwin and the rest of NT lose people interstate. Both Brisbane and the rest of Queensland had gains.
This is what the picture looks like when you add in the other components of population change, natural increase and overseas migration.
You can see that though regional growth is much smaller, both Regional NSW and Regional Victoria rely in migration from within Australia for a lot of their population growth, while Melbourne, Sydney and to a lesser extent Perth rely on overseas migration.
This is an interesting trend, and it pre-dates the most recent very large increases in housing prices. We’ll be monitoring this closely, to see if there are more people fleeing Sydney in coming years due to housing prices, and whether this spreads to other capital cities as well.