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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Population see-saw on the cards

The Mercury: Population see-saw on the cards [30nov05]

TASMANIA'S population is expected to peak in about 20 years before going into decline.

But Hobart's population is expected to withstand the decline as more people leave rural areas in favour of an urban lifestyle.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures out yesterday show Tasmania's population is projected to peak at 504,500 in 2021.

But then the population will fall to 453,000 in 2051, 6 per cent fewer than the 482,000 living in Tasmania in 2004.

Only Tasmania and South Australia are expected to suffer declines, with the rest of Australia showing healthy rises.

Overall there is expected to be 28 million Australians by 2051, Sydney and Melbourne growing to beyond five million people.

In Hobart, the population (202,000 in 2004) is predicted to grow to 220,000 in 2021 -- a figure which will be maintained in 2051.

In its high-growth assumptions, the ABS says Tasmania could grow to 620,000 in 2051. And in low-growth, the state could fall to as low as 335,000 in 2052.

Australia's population will be significantly older in the future. In Tasmania the median age is likely to rise from 38.4 years now to between 48.4 and 54.7 by 2051.

The number of children aged 0-14 years is projected to decrease from 20 per cent now to 12-16 per cent in 2051.

During the same period the number of people aged 65 years and over will grow from 14 per cent to 31-36 per cent.

Deaths will start to exceed births in 2027.

Tasmanian population expert Natalie Jackson said the figures were based on a slightly pessimistic migration outlook.

Dr Jackson, senior lecturer in social demography at the University of Tasmania, said it was more likely Tasmania's population would plateau around the 500,000 mark beyond the 2020s.

"I don't think Tasmania should panic," she said.

But the state was ageing at a phenomenal rate and more was needed to attract young families.


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