A NSW Government website

Sydney is at risk of becoming a city with no grandchildren – Productivity Commission report finds

13 Feb 2024

Today it has been revealed that Sydney is at risk of becoming a city with no grandchildren if we don’t meaningfully address the housing crisis.

The NSW Productivity Commission has fired the blunt warning in a new housing paper, which reveals Sydney is losing some 7,000 people aged 30 to 40 a year.

The paper found that between 2016 and 2021, Sydney lost twice as many people aged 30 to 40 as it gained. 35,000 came to Sydney, but 70,000 left.

It also found that while Sydney has among the highest average wages in Australia, over recent years it has consistently lost population to other states and regional NSW. Approximately two out of every three departures are from the working-age population – that is, those aged between 25 and 64, it’s not only ‘grey nomads’ who leave Sydney.

Most concerningly, the Productivity Commissioner Peter Achterstraat found that "If we don't act, we could become a city with no grandchildren.”

These are thousands of people who’d be starting and raising families, filling good jobs, starting businesses, employing people and contributing to communities. But the housing crisis is forcing them out.

The new paper ‘What we gain by building more homes in the right places’, supports the NSW Government’s rezoning and density plans, finding building up in inner-Sydney suburbs would boost productivity, boots wages, cut carbon emissions and preserve green space.

The NSW Government is focused on getting the balance right between building new homes and protecting the character of communities. It doesn’t have to be an either or choice.

Not only are thousands of people being pushed out or priced out of Sydney, but new homelessness data also released today, also shows the impact on many who don’t have the opportunity or mean to relocate.

Homelessness NSW has reported a sobering spike in the number of people sleeping rough.

The increases in numbers are across Sydney including the Inner West, Ku-ring-gai, Mosman and Canterbury-Bankstown Local Government Areas, where hundreds of new people have found themselves homeless.

This combined data paints a very clear picture of why the NSW Government is committed to confronting this housing crisis as its number one priority.

The NSW Government, local councils and communities can strike a balance to ensure we unlock housing supply, continue the conversations around rezoning and work together to build a better Sydney that people can afford to live in now and into the future.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully said:

“The reality of rising housing prices and lack of available housing is making it harder for people to stay in the same suburbs as their families or live close to their jobs.

“The Opposition has a choice – they can get behind important reform that will help house the next generation or they can continue to oppose reform and turn their back on young kids trying to bed down roots in NSW.

“That’s why the Labor government has introduced the boldest housing reforms in 12 years, we’ve created new housing policies that are designed to get supply moving and overcome this problem.

“If there’s no supply, there’s no homes for the next generation. The NSW Government is not going to turn their back on housing, it’s a basic need.

Minister for Housing and Homelessness Rose Jackson said:

“This report, together with the new data released today from Homelessness NSW highlights the very real housing crisis that is playing out in our suburbs and cities across the state.

“There are more than 55,000 people on the social housing waitlist, anxiously waiting for a safe place to call home.

“It’s a shameful backlog left by a decade of inaction by the former government that has left too many in NSW vulnerable.

“Affordability and availability are at their lowest levels in decades. The NSW Government remains committed to delivering more homes and strengthening support services as a priority.”