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Australia’s Population Could Start Shrinking, But Is That A Bad Thing?

Social science experts predict Australia’s record-low birth rate could mean population numbers will shrink, as public debate grows about whether this is a bad thing.

Australia’s fertility rate hit a record low in 2020 but still sits well below the rate needed for a population to sustain itself.

National population numbers have been steadily declining since the 1960s. The decline could be attributed to the availability of contraception, educational attainment by women, cost of living and climate change.

There’s an ongoing debate about whether a shrinking population is really a bad thing for Australia.

Professor Amanda Davies discusses the pros and cons of population decline on today’s episode of The Briefing:

Social sciences Professor Amanda Davies from the University of Western Australia said the national debate sparks questions of economic growth, land carrying capacity and environmental circumstances.

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“The housing crisis and the cost of living crisis is intersecting with the challenges around managing Australia’s population growth,” Davies said.

The number of babies per woman that a population needs to sustain itself is 2.1. Australia’s fertility rate is predicted to sit at 1.6 for the next 50 years.

“If we wanted to stay the same size as we are, we would need to continue our international migration intake in about fifteen years,” she said.

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