ABS data reveal strong negative impact of population growth on State economies

June 7, 2010 • Daily Email Recap

Thanks to John Coulter for this press release.
ABS data reveal strong negative impact of population growth on State economies

26 March 2010

‘Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) tables on Australia’s population growth released yesterday show a strong negative relationship between state population growth and economic performance’ comments Dr John Coulter Vice President of Sustainable Population Australia.

‘On a per capita basis the Australian economy went backwards by 1% during 2008-9. Per capita Gross State Product (GSP) fell in all states with high population growth. Queensland did worst with a fall of 2.3% in per capita GSP, followed by WA, then NSW and Victoria. Only Tasmania, the Northern Territory and SA showed positive growth of per capita GSP and in that order.
‘In short population growth overtook growth of GSP making those citizens in the highest population growth states worse off.

‘The situation is actually much worse because of the way GDP and GSP are calculated. The ‘cost’ of replacing or building new physical infrastructure: schools, roads, hospitals, police stations, adds to GDP and GSP. It is a cost masquerading as a benefit. Approximately 2% of all physical infrastructure must be replaced every year. With population growing at 2% infrastructure cost doubles. Additional population, either newborns or immigrants, does not repay this cost for many years so it is borne by the existing population.

‘This gives the lie to the claims often made by economic commentators and the leaders of most of our political parties that:

• Population growth makes us better off
• Population growth is necessary for economic growth

And it confirms the increasingly popular public view that population growth is not only damaging our environment, stressing many resources and infrastructure but is making each of us economically poorer. So what’s the point?

‘It is indeed remarkable that ABS reports the figures for population growth in its most recent release commenting in ways that suggest population growth is a good thing. Sustainable Population Australia calls on the ABS, in future, to publish a table similar to the one above showing the impact of population growth on per capita economic performance. This would give Australians a much clearer and more honest understanding of the important relationship between population and economic growth.’

For further information or comment:
Dr John Coulter, Vice President, Sustainable Population Australia
08/8388 2153 or 0450 679 114 or jrpfc@bigpond.com

For copies of the table or the graph contact John by email.

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