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The term Australian diaspora refers to the approximately 310,000 Australian citizens (approximately 1.3% of the population) who today live outside Australia. The largest percentage of Australian emigrants (48%) are based in Europe, and the next largest percentage (24%) are in Asia. The Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement enables Australians and New Zealanders to migrate between Australia and New Zealand.
A survey in 2002 of Australians who were emigrating found that most were leaving for employment reasons.
For the period 1999-2003, it was estimated that there were 346,000 Australian-born people living in other OECD countries: of these 96,900 lived in the United Kingdom, 65,200 lived in the United States and 42,000 lived in New Zealand.
Origin of the term
The term Australian diaspora was used in reference to Australian citizens living abroad in a 2003 Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) research report, "Australia's Diaspora: Its Size, Nature and Policy Implications". This report both identified the phenomenon and argued for an Australian government policy of maintaining active contact with the diaspora. The term has been picked up by others.
The diaspora has been the focus of policy concerns over a so-called "brain drain" from Australia. However, the 2003 CEDA report argued the phenomenon was essentially positive: rather than experiencing a "brain drain", Australia was in fact seeing both "brain circulation" as Australians added to their skills and expertise, and a "brain gain", as these skilled expatriates tended to return to Australia and new skilled immigrants were arriving. Between 1999 and 2003, there were seven highly educated migrants to Australia for every one highly educated Australian who was living elsewhere in countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Levels of skilled immigration to Australia reflect Government policies to "practise a selective immigration policy based on human capital criteria".
During 1999-2003, 96,900 (or one third of all Australian expatriates), lived in the United Kingdom. The 2011 UK Census recorded 113,592 residents born in Australia in England, 2,695 in Wales, 8,279 in Scotland, and 1,750 in Northern Ireland. The Office for National Statistics estimates that 113,000 people born in Australia were resident in the UK in 2013.
In Beijing, China there are 5,000 Australians. In southern China there are 10,000 Australians.
In December 2001, the Department of Foreign Affairs estimated that there were 106,000 Australian citizens resident in the United States of America. The major places of residence were: 25,000 living in Los Angeles; 17,000 in San Francisco; 17,000 in Washington DC; and 15,000 in New York. For the period 1999-2003, it was estimated that 22% of Australian expatriates, 65,200, were living in the United States. According to a 2010 estimate, 40,000 Australians were in Los Angeles.
Australian migration to the United States is greater than Americans going to Australia. At the 2006 census, 71,718 Australian residents declared that they were American-born, a smaller population than the population estimate of Australians living in the United States.
Comparison with the expatriate populations of other countries
The ratio of expatriate Australians in 2005 was 2.8 Australian-born people aged 15 years or over per 100 Australian born people aged 15 years and over within Australia. This ratio is much lower than many other countries in the OECD - the highest ratios in 2005 were for Ireland (29 Irish-born people aged 15 years and over in other OECD countries for every 100 in Ireland) and for New Zealand (19 per 100). The Australian ratio was higher than that of the United States (less than one person in other OECD countries per 100 USA-born within the USA).
Education levels of Australian expatriates were high: 44% of Australian expatriates in other OECD countries had a high level of education. Japanese expatriates had the highest proportion, with 50% having a high level of education. 49% of expatriates from the USA had a high education as did 45% of expatriates from New Zealand.
^Notes on education levels from the ABS: (c) High level includes ISCED5A: Academic tertiary, ISCED5B: Vocational tertiary, ISCED 6: Advanced research. (d) Overall, 3% of OECD expatriates in the OECD had no information on educational attainment. These have been excluded from the total in calculating the proportion. (e) The migrant to expatriate ratio for people with a high level of education for a particular country is: the ratio of the number of migrants from other OECD countries with a high level of education living in that country, to the number of that country's expatriates with a high level of education.
Graeme Hugo (13 February 2006). "An Australian Diaspora?". International Migration. International Organization for Migration. 44 (1): 105-133. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2435.2006.00357.x.
Graeme Hugo (2006). "Australian experience in skilled migration". In Christiane Kuptsch; Pang Eng Fong; Eng Fong Pang (eds.). Competing for Global Talent. International Labour Organization. pp. 143-145. ISBN9789290147763.