The Balance of the Sexes: The Feminisation of Australia’s Population, 1901–2008

Population Space and Place, Vol. 18, 2012

27 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2011 Last revised: 17 Sep 2011

See all articles by Brian Opeskin

Brian Opeskin

University of Technology Sydney

Rebecca Kippen

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: May 30, 2011

Abstract

The numerical balance between males and females in a population has been of long-standing interest to social scientists because of its effects on marriage, fertility and the societal roles of men and women. Yet little attention has been paid to mapping changes in sex ratios or identifying their demographic determinants. This study addresses this gap by examining secular changes in the balance between males and females in Australia from 1901 to 2008. A method of decomposing these changes into components due to sex differentials in fertility, mortality and migration is described and applied.

The study describes the gradual feminisation of the Australian population over a century, and gives an account of how the ratio of the sexes differs by age and how long it takes to exhaust the numerical superiority of males at birth. The study explains these changes by examining long-term trends in the sex ratio of births, deaths and net migration for successive cohorts. The relatively high mortality of males, and the emerging pattern of feminine net migration since the 1970s, explain the transformation of the Australian population from its highly masculine past to its contemporary state of greater balance between the sexes.

Keywords: Australia, life expectancy, migration, mortality, sex differentials, sex ratios

Suggested Citation

Opeskin, Brian and Kippen, Rebecca, The Balance of the Sexes: The Feminisation of Australia’s Population, 1901–2008 (May 30, 2011). Population Space and Place, Vol. 18, 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1855572

Brian Opeskin (Contact Author)

University of Technology Sydney ( email )

Faculty of Law
University of Technology Sydney
Sydney, New South Wales 2007
Australia
+61-2-95149670 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.uts.edu.au/staff/brian.opeskin

Rebecca Kippen

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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