South Australia’s early run to population milestone

South Australia’s population could reach two million people by the end of the decade – years earlier than previously predicted.

Nov 23, 2023, updated Nov 23, 2023
Photo: Kelly Barnes/AAP

Photo: Kelly Barnes/AAP

The state’s population growth for the next 50 years is also forecast to range between 0 and 0.8 per cent – the slowest of all states and territories except Tasmania, according to Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) population growth projections released today.

The projections, released every five years, are based on what would happen if assumed levels of births, deaths and migration were to occur from 2022 to 2071.

South Australia’s base population for 2022 is 1,821,086 people – around 35,00 higher than the ABS projected in 2018.

Under a “largest population increase” scenario, South Australia’s population could reach two million people by 2029, according to the ABS figures released today.

The ABS’s projection from five years ago had South Australia reaching the two million milestone in 2033.

Under all growth scenarios (high, medium, low), South Australia is projected to hit two million people earlier than it was in 2018.

A graph showing all of South Australia’s population growth projections. Source: ABS

For example, in 2018, the high series scenario had South Australia reaching two million people by 2036. That’s now been revised to 2030.

For the medium series scenario, two million is expected to be hit in 2032 (previously 2041).

For the lowest series scenario, two million is projected for 2037 (previously 2054).

A table showing when South Australia will reach two million under different growth scenarios. Source: ABS

The ABS projections also sound a warning about South Australia’s ageing population.

The median age of the state’s population is expected to rise from 40.7 years in 2022 to between 45.6 and 50.0 years by 2071 – the second-highest projected median age behind Tasmania.

The working-age population (15 to 64) is projected to decline from 63 per cent in 2022 to 57 to 59 per cent in 2071.

The proportion of people aged over 65 is also projected to increase from 20 per cent in 2022 to between 28 and 30 per cent.

Nationally, today’s ABS figures project the median age will increase from 38.5 years to between 43.8 and 47.6 years.

The national population – measured at 26 million in 2022 – is projected to reach between 29.2 and 30.8 million by 2032 and between 34.3 and 45.9 million by 2071.

The population projections come as South Australia’s planning authorities map out Adelaide’s next 30 years of housing growth through the Greater Adelaide Regional Plan.

That plan is working off the assumption that Greater Adelaide’s population could increase by up to 670,000 people over the next 30 years, creating a need for 300,000 new homes.

The ABS data released today projects that South Australia’s population will continue to consolidate in Adelaide, with the proportion of the state’s residents living in the capital projected to increase from 78 per cent in 2022 to between 79 and 80 per cent in 2032.

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