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With immigration levels now a regular topic of discussion, what does the hard data tell us about migrants to Australia? We’ve combed through the stats to see how different immigrants are to locally born Australians.

Proportion of Australians born overseas: 26% (2016)

How old are they? Overseas-born Australians have a median age of 44 compared to 34 for locally-born Australians. Australians born in Europe are oldest, with a median age of 59. However, 85% of overseas-born Australians who have arrived since 2000 were between 15 and 64 in 2016, compared to 65.9% of all Australians.

Where do they live? More likely in major centres: 32% of people in major cities were born overseas compared to 26% of all Australians; 11% of people in towns smaller than 10,000 people were born overseas.

How healthy are they? Healthier than locals. At the age of 30, locally-born Australians can expect to live, on average, another 47.5 years. Overseas-born Australians can expect to live 52.6 years. The longest-lived are Vietnamese-born Australians, who on average will live another 56.2 years.

Jobs and income: The median income of foreign-born taxpayers in 2013-14 was $48,400, 6% higher than the median income of all Australians. The unemployment rate for migrants arrived since 2007 and temporary residents was 7.4% in 2016, around 2 percentage points higher than for the overall workforce.

However, recent migrants with Australian citizenship had an unemployment rate of just 3.3%. The participation rate for recent migrants/temporary residents was 70% in 2016, compared to an overall rate of 66%; recent migrants with Australian citizenship had a rate of 80%.

Forty percent of aged pension recipients were born overseas; 54% of permanent migrants aged 15 years and over (who arrived 1 January 2000 to 9 August 2016) owned their own home outright or with a mortgage, compared to 66% of all Australians.

Education60% of overseas-born Australians had a post-school qualification compared to 54% of locally born Australians. The most educated group is the Indian community: 79.3% of Indian-born Australians have a post-school qualification; 78.7% of the Bangladeshi community does as well. 

Religion27% of foreign-born Australians report having no religion, compared to 34% of Australian-born people. However, between 2006 and 2016, foreign-born Australians reporting no religion increased from 17% to 27%.

Crime and punishment: 18% of prisoners in Australia are overseas-born, compared to 35% of the population aged 17 and above. Assault and other violent acts are the most common offence for New Zealanders and Sudanese-born people; drug offences are most common for people born in China, Malaysia and Vietnam, sexual assault is the most common offence for British-born prisoners.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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