No correlation between high immigration and healthy economy (APR)

15 April 2003

Media Releases 2003

The claim by the Australian Industry Group that higher levels of immigration will benefit the economy is selfish and ignorant, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).

Deputy National President of SPA, Dr John Coulter, says that there is no statistical correlation between population size, population rate of growth and GDP growth per capita in OECD countries (See table below.)

“Nor is there any correlation between these variables if you compare the six states and two territories within Australia,” says Dr Coulter. “Indeed, in the latest period reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Northern Territory with a decline of 0.1 per cent in population had the largest growth of per capita Gross State Product (GSP).

“Similarly, South Australia, with the lowest rate of population growth of the mainland states, had the next highest growth of GSP. However, analysis of the data across all states showed no statistically significant correlation.”

Dr Coulter believes that vested interests, such as real estate and building/construction in Australia, are seeking faster population growth to serve their particular industry.

“The call for more skilled immigration smacks of similar selfishness. It shifts the cost of education and training on to other countries, many much poorer than Australia.

“It is also clear that those who call for faster economic growth have no concern for, or understanding of, environmental sustainability,” says Dr Coulter. “Growth of three per cent per year means a doubling of the per capita environmental impact every 23 years.

“By 2050 we would each be making an environmental demand four times larger than at present. If, at the same time, population is doubled, the demand that Australians will then be making will be eight times larger than now.

“A population of 19.7 million is not living sustainably now. An eightfold increase is clearly not sustainable. It is urgent that environmental sustainability takes precedence over further growth. Sustainable economic growth is an oxymoron,” Dr Coulter concluded.

Country Rank GDP/cap Rank pop size Rank pop growth
Luxembourg 1 13 4.5
US 2 1 1
Monaco* 3 15.5 4.5
Switzerland 4 9 14
Singapore* 5 12 13
Norway 6 11 7
Belgium 7 7 12
Denmark 8 10 8
Austria 9 8 16
Canada 10 4 9
Liechtenstein* 11 15.5 10.5
Iceland 12 14 2
France 13 3 3
Netherlands 14 6 10.5
Japan 15 2 15
Australia 16 5 6

* Non-OECD countryFurther information:

John Coulter, Ph: 08 8388 2153

Jenny Goldie (SPA National Director) Ph: 0401 921 453, 02 6235 5488 E:


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