Perth, the migrant city

Stretching from Two Rocks in the north to the Peel inlet in the south, the sprawling city of Perth covers a total land area of 6,416 square kilometres and is home to more than 2 million people – 2,085,973 at last count to be precise!

Breaking down this two-million figure highlights Perth’s cultural diversity. Two in five Perth residents were born overseas, and this proportion is growing. Over the past ten years, the number of Perth residents born overseas has grown by 2.5 times the rate of Australian-born residents (50% cf. 19%).

From Euro-centric to Asian-centric migration

Not only is Perth a migrant city, but the patterns of migration have been shifting from Euro-centric to Asian-centric. The fastest migration growth over the last decade has been from India, Philippines and China, while migration from the UK, New Zealand and South Africa continues to remain strong.

If you walk the streets of Perth, you’ll hear the sounds of our linguistic diversity. One in five households speak a language other than English at home, with the top spoken non-English languages being Mandarin, Italian, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Arabic. The fastest growing language groups in Perth are the Chinese languages of Mandarin and Cantonese, the languages of the subcontinent Punjabi and Hindi, and Tagalog spoken in the Philippines.

Migration in a post-COVID world

COVID-19 has closed international borders (and even WA’s domestic border), disrupting migration patterns and resetting population forecasts. With net overseas migration accounting for around 60% of Australia’s population growth in recent years, it means migrant-driven population growth will be impaired in the short-term.

Looking further ahead, it’s arguable that key migration drivers in a world still recovering from COVID-19 will be things like physical safety, strong healthcare systems, a stable economy, strong job prospects, positive natural amenity and open space. Perth has all of these in spades. Perhaps being the “most isolated city in the world” will become Perth’s greatest marketing asset in a post-COVID world.

Perth’s story to date is that of a city of migrants, and cultural and demographic factors suggest we can expect this to continue for many years to come.

We’re delighted to have recently launched a McCrindle office in Perth. As social researchers and demographers, we create a clearer picture of the trends that inform strategic thinking. For a snapshot of the demographic trends shaping the development of Perth now and into the future, download our free report The Future of Perth.


Future of Perth

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