COVID-19 border closures stymie Australia’s population growth


  • The closure of international borders amid the pandemic has dented Australia’s population growth.
  • Net migration has slipped into negative for the first time in 75 years
  • Victoria remains worst hit.

Australia’s population growth has slowed to a near-zero level in the year ended March 2021 as international borders have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country’s population grew by just 35,700 people (0.1% in the percentage terms) during the year, according to the data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The numbers reflect Australia’s dependence on the immigrants.

“Australia’s population grew by just over 0.1% (35,700 people) to 25.7 million, in contrast to a growth of 1.5 per cent we had in the 2019 calendar year. This is the first full year of data reflecting the impacts of COVID-19 on Australia’s population,” said ABS Demography Director Beidar Cho.

Population growth over the past 12 months was entirely due to natural increase (adding 131,000 people), while net overseas migration was negative (-95,300) over the period, according to the ABS.

This also happens to be the first time since 1946 that the net overseas migration into Australia has been negative. The migration turned negative after 115,000 overseas migration arrivals and 210,300 departures.

Other than migration, there were 293,500 births and 162,500 deaths during this period. “The resulting natural increase was down 4 per cent from the previous year and continues the trend of a gradual decline over the past 5 years, driven mainly by decreasing births,” ABS said.

Despite muted population growth numbers, only one state in the country witnessed a population decline as Victoria saw its population dip by 0.6%. Rest other remained muted. The headcount in the country’s most populous state – New South Wales – grew at par with national numbers (0.1%).

The decline in Victoria’s population was driven by the outflow of migrants from the country. The net overseas migration from the province stood at minus (-)53,484 people with 18,191 Victorians moved out of the state to other states – highest in the country.