Why is extreme population growth considered inevitable?

The Conversation published an article yesterday noting that Australia’s population will double in 80 years:

Our goal was to understand people’s preferences for managing population growth on a national scale, in hopes that this will inform a national urban policy to prepare for the population increase to come…

With an election looming, will either party take a closer look at the big question here and announce plans for a National Urban Policy? We can’t pretend this population boom isn’t happening – and our cities must be ready.

The latest report from the Australian Housing Urban Research Institute (AHURI) was even more extreme, noting that Australia’s population will double in 50 years, which it acknowledges will stifle living standards in Sydney and Melbourne:

Over the next 50 years, Australia’s population is expected to double. Much of this growth is expected to be concentrated in major metropolitan centers that are already struggling to provide the infrastructure needed to support their populations.

Between 2016 and 2066, Australia’s population is expected to grow to 24.6 million people, and around 55% of this growth is expected to occur in Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS] 2018).

Australia’s largest cities are already under severe pressure, as evidenced by high levels of road congestion and expensive local housing markets. Sydney and Melbourne together account for around 75% of all traffic congestion in major cities in Australia and New Zealand (Austroads 2016). Average housing costs in these two cities are up to 50% higher than in other Australian cities and regional centers (ABS 2019).

What I hate most about these types of reports is that they treat as a given that we will continue to grow our population at the extreme rate of the pre-pandemic 15 years on the back of insane levels of immigration:

Great Australia here we come!

There is never a discussion about if we should grow up, just let it happen no matter what.

No one cares to look at the standard of living in the Nordic countries which keep everything moderate, which maximizes the quality of life for their citizens.


Northern populations have remained relatively stable.

Between 1960 and 2019, the combined populations of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland increased by only 6.9 million people (34%), from 20.1 million to 27, 0 million.

Over the same period, Australia’s population increased by 15.1 million people (147%), from 10.3 million to 25.4 million.

A policy that cares about its people would seek to emulate the Nordic countries by focusing on improving productivity and living standards instead of perpetual low-quality, quantity-based growth that benefits a small number of people. elites rather than the masses.

Recent opinion polls show that the overwhelming majority of Australians favor much lower levels of immigration and a stable population.

At the end of last year, the The Australian Institute of Population Research (TAPRI) released a detailed poll showing that only 19% of respondents supported pre-COVID immigration levels, with 70% wanting lower immigration levels (including 48% wanting significantly lower or no immigration):

Immigration Survey #1

The overwhelming majority (69%) of Australians also don’t think Australia needs more people:

Demographic survey

Last month, Fairfax released further polls showing that even more Australians (65 per cent) want immigration to resume at a lower level than before the pandemic and only 22% want the same or higher:

Immigration Survey #2

The best and most democratic way to decide the future population of Australia would have been to hold a plebiscite in the next federal election. This plebiscite could have directly sought voters’ preference for the country’s future population size, whose responses would then be used to formulate Australia’s immigration intake to achieve said goal.

Unfortunately, in Australia’s unrepresentative democracy, a people’s plebiscite will never take place. Rather than representing the wishes of the Australian people, our politicians and media are too busy bending the knee to vested interests in the property, business and edu-migration lobbies.

Thus, mass immigration and a “greater Australia” are virtually blocked, the consequences are cursed. And with that, we will experience more decades of slow wage growth, deteriorating housing affordability, environmental stress and declining living standards.

Unconventional economist
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