NSW Department of Planning and Environment


Using the projections

The Department of Planning and Environment produces population, household and implied dwelling projections for the whole of New South Wales. We use information about births, deaths, and migration to paint a picture of our population from now to 2041. This includes:

  • how many people are likely to be living in NSW
  • how old they are likely to be
  • where in NSW they are likely to live
  • the types of household they may live in
  • the potential demand on housing from the changing population.

These are not future population targets. Instead, the population projections are a set of Common Planning Assumptions which the New South Wales Government and others use to plan services.

We review the population projections regularly to account for unforeseen events such as the global COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on overseas and interstate migration.

For our 2022 update, we have improved our population projections by zooming in beyond the local government area (LGA) level to include data for smaller Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2). These are general-purpose areas defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This means we can identify the movement of people over time between the rural parts of an LGA and its towns, for example.

Population changes in NSW

The total population in NSW in 2020 was 8.2 million. This is projected to increase to 9.9 million people over the next 20 years driven by migration and the balance between births and deaths.


2021 Population


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Population change over 20 years

Natural change



Net migration


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2041 Population



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This picture of the future population is shaped by evidence-based assumptions about the number of babies born, number of deaths and how many people move in, out and around NSW. The assumptions for the 2022 NSW Population Projections have been informed by the most up-to-date data and by insights from an expert advisory group.

Demographic assumptions span 3 areas: births, deaths and migration:

  • how many babies are likely to be born (fertility)
  • the age at which people are likely to die (life expectancy)
  • how many people will be moving around within NSW (intrastate migration)
  • how many people will be moving in and out of NSW from other states (interstate migration)
  • how many people will be moving in and out of NSW from overseas (overseas migration).

Table 1. NSW Medium-growth demographic assumptions 2016 to 2041

Assumption Trend
AssumptionBirth rate TrendTrending from 1.70 births per woman to 1.63
AssumptionLife expectancy at birth (Males) TrendTrending from 81.8 to 86.0 years
AssumptionLife expectancy at birth (Females) TrendTrending from 85.8 to 88.9 years
AssumptionNet interstate migration TrendAnnual net losses going from –94,000 to –85,000, with smaller losses for 2021–26
AssumptionNet overseas migration TrendAnnual net gains trending from 306,600 to 376,000 with smaller gains for 2021–26

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