The dynamic complexity of Australia’s immigration and emigration flows from 1981 to 2016

James Raymer*, Xujing Bai, Nan Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    The aim of this paper is to examine how flows of immigration and emigration to and from Australia over the past 35 years have evolved across settlement areas. This is achieved by studying the changes to the sources of immigration, measured by country or region of birth, the relative propensities of immigrants to remain in Australia, and the differences exhibited by females and males. The analyses utilise a unique set of data on immigration and emigration flows that have been recently harmonised across various sources of existing data, both over time and across geographic units. Specifically, we show how the patterns have evolved for 18 different immigrant groups and the Australia-born population since 1981. This research provides new insights into the patterns of international migration that are greatly influencing population and ethnic change across Australia. We show how the diversity of immigration has increased between 1981 and 2016 and the significance of China and India as new sources of immigration. The increasing diversity is found across all 47 geographic areas that we examine, albeit with variations in the levels and sources of immigration. We also find that retention of immigrants and ratios of returning Australia-born persons have been declining over time. Finally, we show how most immigrant groups exhibit distinct patterns of immigration and emigration by sex.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)213-242
    Number of pages30
    JournalJournal of Population Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


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