Australia Population and Society
Australia is among the countries with the lowest population density in the world, with approximately three residents per km 2. The distribution in the territory is strongly concentrated in the cities, where 89.3% of Australians reside: in the region, Australia is second only to Singapore (a totally urbanized state) and to Japan in terms of urbanization rate. In recent years, population growth has settled at 1.6%, a high level, given that it is an industrialized country. The causes are two: on the one hand, public assistance to families has favored an increase in births; on the other hand, migratory flows have increased . According to a 2014 sociological study, Australia, despite some recent controversies, is one of the most receptive Western nations towards immigrants together with Canada. In this context, the Australian government adopts a pragmatic approach, evaluating from year to year how many immigrants to accept based on economic trends. In previous years, the boom in the resource sector, it had pushed the government to increase the share of visas granted to meet the growing demand for skilled workers not available within the country. In the fall of 2010, a reform was launched to encourage the selection of the most skilled and highly educated immigrants, so that they could contribute to Australia’s long-term economic development. These had thus come to constitute 68% of total immigration to Australia. At the same time as the international economic crisis, in the three-year period 2009-11, however, the government reduced permanent visas from 171,000 to 168,000, but with the recovery the figure started to grow again: from 168,000 in 2011 to 190,000 visas for 2014. An approach equally pragmatic, but of contested ethics, is the one adopted with respect to refugees. In particular, the recognition of the right to asylum for irregular immigrants is a somewhat controversial issue in Australian politics, with respect to which both political parties respond with austerity by tracing the question back to a security problem. Although there has been a significant increase in the number of individuals seeking protection in Australia in recent times, the country’s share of asylum applications still represents a very small fraction of the world total (around 2%). In December 2014, the parliament approved with a narrow majority the reform that allows refugees coming largely from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Sri Lanka to live in the country for a maximum period of between 3 and 5 years.
Decades of immigration have significantly contributed to shaping the cultural and linguistic diversity of Australia’s resident population. According to the official estimates of the last census, over a quarter (26%) of the resident population in Australia is, in fact, born abroad (or about 6 million people). Of this 26%, the British, albeit down from the past, continue to be the largest group of residents, accounting for 21%, followed by those born in New Zealand (9%), China (6%), in India (5.6%) and, at the same level, in Italy and Vietnam (3.5%). The aborigines and islanders of the Torres Strait together make up about 1.5% of the population: many of them live in conditions of poverty, often in large cities. Urbanization
Australia is the second country in the world in the ranking of the human development index, behind Norway. With a life expectancy among the highest in the world, amounting to 82.1 years, a GDP per capita above $ 47,300 and one of the most advanced educational systems, the country has also prominent features in the landscape of developed. Australia excels, for example, in relation to gender equality: it is the second nation in the world, always behind Norway, according to the Gender Inequality Index (Gii), which takes into account gender balance in terms of life expectancy, education, economic standards and political participation. Health expenditure is in line with the average of the countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), both as regards the percentage value of GDP (6.3%) and per capita expenditure. Anti-smoking policies undertaken over the past decade (recognized in Australia as the leading preventable cause of death) have helped to significantly reduce the percentage of smokers, which fell from 27% in 2001 to 18% in 2011-12 for men and from 21% to 14% for women. Values well below the world average, equal to just under 40%, as well as that of the OECD countries, which stands at around 33%. A critical element is represented by the increase in obesity, which affects approximately 14 million Australians. For Australia society, please check homosociety.com.
Australia is among the preferred countries in the world to attend university: in recent years the number of total enrollments has decreased (discouraged by the high tuition fees), but traditionally Australia hosts a very high number of foreign university students.