Population growth damages Australian standard of living

Posted: 15 November 2010

Data released recently by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) suggest that those states with the highest rates of population growth are performing worse in terms of per capita economic growth.

"Those states with the highest rates of population growth suffered the largest reduction in standard of living", said Dr John Coulter, Vice President of Sustainable Population Australia commenting on the latest ABS population data and economic data. "Previous years and longer time scales lead to the same conclusion."

"Queensland and West Australia economies went backwards by 1.9 and 2 per cent respectively in terms of per capita Gross State Product (GSP). On the other hand the Northern Territory, Tasmania and South Australia showed growth of per capita GSP of 0.7, 0.5 and 0.1 per cent respectively. Australia, as a whole suffered a decline in per capita GDP of 0.7 per cent.

"These figures clearly indicate that far from improving the lot of ordinary citizens, population growth by exceeding economic growth was, on average, making each citizen worse off.

"Importantly also, these raw figures do not reveal the full extent of the damaging impact of population growth on the welfare of ordinary citizens. Much of the 'cost' of the additional infrastructure required for population growth is added to and inflates GDP and GSP. Thus, in terms of the existing population, the growth of total GDP/GSP, does not represent a real benefit.

"Moreover, the costs borne by ordinary citizens in terms of traffic congestion, longer travel times, ameliorating environmental damage are also added to GDP/GSP. These are real costs masquerading as benefits through the misleading way in which GDP and GSP measures are constructed.

"These data expose, yet again, the deceit behind the self-interested claims of property developers and some other business interests that population growth is good for Australians and similar claims made by the major parties that receive large donations from these interests", concluded Dr Coulter.