Early tomorrow morning, Australia will pass a significant population milestone. At 12.51 am on Tuesday, 16 February 2016, Australia will officially have a population of 24 million people. But who will be the 24 millionth Australian, and what does a population of 24 million mean for our country?
Because not everyone will be glued to the ABS population clock like us, we thought we'd break down what it all means. We're futurists, after all.
Australia's population is doubling, in pace with the world
In 1968, Australia's population reached 12 million, and so it has taken 48 years to double. Interestingly, in 1970, the global population was exactly half what it currently is at 7.3 billion. So the world has taken only slightly less time -- 46 years -- to double. Also, more than one third of Australians have seen both Australia, and the world, double in population size in their lifetime.
A new million in record time
Australia reached 23 million people on 23 April 2013, which means it has added its 24th million in 2 years, 9 months and 2 days. This is the first time that a million people have been added to Australia's population in less than 3 years.
From 1954 -- when the population hit 9 million -- until 2003 --when the population hit 20 million -- each additional million inhabitants was added in a time span of around 4.5 years. From 20 to 23 million, the time span had decreased to add each million every 3.5 years (keeping in mind the readjustment in the timing of Australia reaching 22 million, which was altered due to population adjustments based on the 2011 Census results).
17 years ahead of schedule
When Australia's population reached 19 million on 18 August 1999, the national population was forecast to reach 24 million in 2033. However, rather than each new million being added every 7 to 9 years -- as was forecast based on the trends at the time -- Australia is adding an extra million people every 3 years (increasing from 21 million to 24 million in 8 years and 8 months).
Baby boom, longevity boom and migration growth
Not only has the fertility rate over the past decade been much higher than predicted (with the consequential record baby boom averaging 300,000 births per year), but the increase in life expectancy was also beyond these predictions. And while net migration numbers have been slowing over the past couple of years, growth from migration was, and still is, above the forecasts of the late 20th Century.
40 million by 2050
As recently as 2009 the forecast was for the population to reach 36 million by 2050. However, even based on the more modest population growth rate of 1.5 percent (well below the highs of 1.9 percent achieved in recent years), Australia's population will reach 40 million by mid-century, with the possibility of it being beyond 43 million (based on 1.7 percent annual growth).
The source of growth: births, deaths and migration
Based on census data and the current population growth, we know that Australia experiences one birth every 1 minute and 44 seconds, one death every 3 minutes and 24 seconds and a net gain of one international migration every 2 minutes and 39 seconds. This leads to an overall total population increase of one person every 1 minute and 31 seconds.
24 million still small on the global scale
While Australia's population growth is significant in national terms, our new milestone of 24 million is small compared to the US population of 323 million. And in a global context, Australia's share of the world's population is just 0.32 percent -- less than one-third of 1 percent.
The 24 millionth Australian -- who will it be?
At the moment, net migration is contributing a slightly greater portion to Australia's population growth than the natural increase (53 percent to 47 percent respectively). However, because Australia officially hits the 24 millionth milestone just after midnight, the actual person who tips our population size over this milestone is more likely to be a new birth than an overseas arrival.
While there are more women in Australia than men, there are more baby boys being born than girls (105 boys for every 100 girls, to be specific). The city that experiences more births than any other is Sydney, our largest city, and it is the Western suburb of Blacktown which is the area of Australia that records the highest birth numbers.
The latest baby names data reveals that the most popular Australian baby name for girls is Charlotte, and for boys is Oliver. Therefore, based on this analysis, the 24 millionth Australian is most likely to be a baby boy named Oliver, born in the early hours of 16th February, in the Western suburbs of Sydney.
Happy 24 millionth person, Australia.