Notes on the data: Birthplace & Non-English speaking residents

People born in predominantly non-English speaking countries, 2011


Policy context:  Successive waves of migration have contributed to the make up of the overseas-born population in Australia in 2011. Initially, most of these migrants were born in countries in North-West Europe, and these were then followed by large numbers of migrants born in Southern and Eastern Europe following World War II. However, the proportion of the overseas-born population originating from Europe has declined in recent years, from 52% in 2001 to 40% in 2011 [1].

In the 1970s, many migrants arrived in Australia from South-East Asia and in recent migration streams, a number of Asian countries have made a large contribution [1]. Reflecting this trend, the proportion of migrants born in Asia increased from 24% of the overseas-born population in 2001 to 33% in 2011. The proportion of the overseas-born population arriving from countries outside Europe and Asia has also increased.

In the 2011 Census, 3,380,802 people (15.7% of the total population) were born in Non Main English-Speaking Countries [1]. Country of birth groups which increased the most between 2001 and 2011 were India (up 200,000 people), China (176,200) and New Zealand (127,700). The largest decreases were seen in the birth countries of Italy (less 33,300 people), Greece (16,500) and Poland (9,400). These decreases can be attributed to deaths and low current migration levels replenishing these groups [1].


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Cultural diversity in Australia - Reflecting a Nation: Stories from the 2011 Census, 2012-2013. (ABS Cat. no. 2071.0). Canberra: ABS; 2012.

Notes:  The data comprise people born in 'predominantly non-English speaking countries' which comprise all but the following overseas countries, designated as 'English speaking': Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

The data exclude the 5.6% of the population who did not state their country of birth. (The proportion excluded was calculated based on the Australian data.)


Numerator:  People born in predominantly non-English speaking countries


Denominator:  Total population


Detail of analysis:  Per cent


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on the ABS Census 2011 data.


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