Several studies have been undertaken to demonstrate the relationship between population and economic development since the eighteenth century, but the direction of the relationship is still open for debate today (Avery, 2013, Palumbo et al., 2010). Malthus (1798, 1826) started the debate and since then, different views and theories about the relationship between population and economic growth have emerged. Malthus, along with neo-classical economists and Keynes, argue that population is the independent variable. On the other hand, Mark, Lenin, and Smith argue that population growth is a product of improved economic growth (Koontz, 1957). In the early twentieth century, the Demographic Transition Theory (DTT) by Thompson (1929) became the most widely accepted theory. The DTT states that as a nation goes through economic development, a nation experiences different stages of transition from high fertility and mortality (resulting to nil growth), to low mortality and slowly declining fertility (high population growth), then to low fertility and low mortality, resulting to stable population growth. In recent times, the validity of DTT is being questioned (Kirk, 1996; Nielsen, 2016) and discussions around the relevance of population theories are coming into the surface once again as the world experiences rapid urban growth and urbanisation. With much of the growth in total population being concentrated in cities, the question of whether cities will be sustainable in the future has also been a concern. In fact, one of the United Nation’s (UN) goal is to make cities sustainable by 2030 (UN, 2014. Australia’s high level of urbanisation and distinctive urbanisation experience compared to other developed countries, make Australia’s capital cities interesting to examine.
The importance of this study is two-fold. Firstly, it will provide empirical evidence on the link between economic and population growth using aggregate data on socio-economic structure, fertility, and mortality, at sub-national level from 1991 to 2016. Most studies conducted to support and validate the different population theories were done at national level and not much has been done at sub-national level (Bloom and Canning, 2008). Secondly, this study will explore the use of advanced statistical techniques to project fertility and mortality rates incorporating socio-economic structure. The study will provide some insights into the future economic and demographic future of Australia’s capital cities. The results of the study will contribute to the literature on demographic changes in Australia’s capital cities and population projection methodology.
Tita Tabije is a PhD candidate in Demography. Her areas of interests are Fertility and Population Projections. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Statistics, University of the Philippines (1984) and an MA in Demography, ANU (1993)