Who will win the race to be Australia’s number 1 capital city?
While many in Melbourne already view their city as the cultural capital of Australia, Sydney still reigns in terms of population as Australia’s largest capital city, with .id estimating a population of 5.07 million people in 2017. In the population stakes, Melbourne has been sitting patiently in second place with 4.86 million people as of 2017.
The unprecedented rate of population growth being experienced in Melbourne is set to change the balance of Australia’s largest cities, de-throning Sydney from the podium as the nation’s most populous capital city. The runner-up Melbourne won’t pip the reigning champion, Sydney, right away but .id’s latest population forecasts show a change in leader is in the not too distant future.
Recently updated Small Area Forecast information (SAFi) for Victoria forecasts that Melbourne will overtake Sydney by 2023, when Melbourne’s population is anticipated to top 5.53 million, exceeding Sydney’s expected population of 5.51 million.
The race winner continues to lead in the longer-term, with the gap forecast to widen by 2037 as Melbourne adds more than half a million more people than Sydney.
Forecast population, Melbourne and Sydney, 2017-41
Sources: .id (the population experts), SAFi Victoria, 2017, SAFi NSW, 2016
Like any good demographic analysis, geographic borders are central to the insight. In this case, the geographic definition of the greater capital city area is important. This analysis uses the Australian Bureau of Statistics official greater capital cities statistical area (GCCSA) geographic definition of metropolitan Melbourne and metropolitan Sydney. The 2016 GCCSA definition of metropolitan Melbourne excludes Geelong and metropolitan Sydney includes the Central Coast. Do people who live in Gosford and Wyong consider themselves Sydney-siders? Are people in Bacchus Marsh and Lancefield happy to be called Melburnians?
It should also be noted that .id’s latest SAFi forecasts for Victoria include information from the 2016 Australian Census, as well as a comprehensive assessment of housing development and supply. SAFi forecasts for NSW were updated and published most recently in 2016, and do not include 2016 Census results. There is a good chance that when the 2016 Census results and an updated assessment of housing development and supply are incorporated into the next update of SAFi NSW, the story may change. Stay tuned to find out more.
.id is a team of demographers, population forecasters, spatial planners, urban economists, IT and data experts who use a unique combination of online information applications and consulting services to help governments and organisations understand people and places for evidence-based planning.