A few weeks ago, China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced that the nation’s population dropped by ~850k in 2022, the first annual decline since 1961 when the country endured its great famine.
While not unexpected (China’s birth-rate has been falling for the last 6 years), the drop means that the country’s population has peaked significantly sooner than anticipated and could point to serious issues for the world’s second-largest economy.
According to UN estimates from 2022, India is set to overtake China as the world’s most populous nation this year, though some believe the switch could have happened already. It’s clear that, from current rates, the gap will extend over time, with India set to end the century with nearly double the population of China.
With fewer births, China’s population pyramid is set to invert, leading to a “top-heavy” demographic, in which a small base of working-age citizens have to support an increasingly large elderly population. That’s something Japan and a number of European countries have dealt with for years and is likely to weigh on China’s economic growth, which is already slowing.
Where does Australia’s population growth go from here? Our current population was 25,978,935 people as of June 2022, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Levels of immigration will play a big role in determining our population growth. With net migration of around 235,000 a year, as currently forecast by Treasury, Australia would reach a population of 39 million in 2060. But under a “high migration scenario” of 470,000 a year, Australia’s population could reach almost 50 million in that time.
Australia’s population density is the lowest in the developed world, and it is only less densely populated than Greenland, Mongolia, Namibia and Iceland. I am a supporter of growing our population more rapidly through a well-targeted migration program.
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