The demographic record of South Australia since European settlement is summarised in the graphs (1) and (2). Data on births, deaths and net migration were compiled for each calendar year, other information is derived from the periodic censuses. Statistics for the South Australian Aboriginal population were incomplete. In the nineteenth century some Aborigines were usually included in the colonial censuses although there would have been substantial under-counting in remoter districts. Full-blood Aborigines were excluded from the Commonwealth census from 1911 to 1966 under the provision of Section 127 of the Australian Constitution. Similarly, births and deaths of full-blood Aborigines were excluded from the annual registration totals until 1967.
Natural increase is the excess of live births over deaths and is one of the two components of the population growth of an area. The sharp falls in a number of years before the 1920s reflect the incidence of epidemic diseases such as the influenza outbreak of 1919. Two long-term sags in the graph reflect periods of falling birth rates from the mid-1880s and the late 1920s. The large rise in the excess of births after the Second World War until 1961 reflects both a rise in the birth rate of long-term residents and the rapid influx of migrants of child-bearing age.
Net migration is the annual excess deficit of in-migrants over out-migrants and is the second component of the total population growth of an area. Until 1940 the figures represent intercolonial, interstate and international migration; however, there would have been some 'leakage' of persons departing unobserved by the record keepers at the ports and railway stations. Before 1888 only those travelling through South Australian seaports were recorded; rail passengers were counted from 1888 to 1940. No records were kept during the Second World War. From 1946 the figures refer only to overseas persons landing in South Australia as permanent settlers and Australian residents departing for at least one year. Apart from the two world wars the other periods of net outwards migration occurred when the South Australian economy lagged behind those of other parts of Australia.
Age structure, the relative distribution of particular age groups among the total population, is represented in these graphs by 'pyramids' which also show the distribution of the sexes. The pyramid for 1866 shows a characteristically 'pioneer' community with high birth rates and relatively high death rates, but with a great potential for high rates of natural increase, especially if the incidence of epidemic diseases were to be reduced. By 1891 the structure had become less broad-based as the onset of declining fertility reduced the number of children in relation to adults, a trend which is even more apparent in the 1921 graph. By 1954 the elderly population had increased significantly; the relative scarcity of teenagers and young adults reflects the drop in the birth rate in the late 1920s and 1930s. However, the 'baby boom' was running strongly, swelling maternity hospitals, kindergartens and the lower primary school classes. By 1981 the graph showed a contracting base, the result of a sharp fall in fertility after 1970 and a historically high proportion of the aged, especially elderly women.
Birth and death rates are shown here in their 'crude' form; that is, the number of live births or deaths per thousand of the total population without adjustment for age-structure. More refined measures (used in demographic analysis) are age or sex-specific rates. The South Australian crude birth rate in 1983 was 14.8 compared with the Australian rate of 15.8. The lowest ever South Australian rate was 14.13 in 1935. The high crude birth rates of the period before 1885 reflect both the high fertility of the women and the high percentage of the total population who were adults aged twenty to forty-five years. In the first half century of settlement epidemic diseases produced marked year to year variations in crude death rates. Since 1956 the crude death rate has been below 10 per thousand, despite the steady ageing of the population. In 1983, the South Australian crude death rate was 7.36 per thousand compared with annual rates of between 16 and 20 in some years between 1846 and 1876.
The difference between the crude birth rate and the crude death rate is the rate of natural increase.
Total fertility rate is generally regarded as a better way of measuring long-term fertility changes than the crude birth rate. It is the average number of live births a woman would have if she were to survive all her reproductive years conforming to the age-specific fertility rates of a given year. In the 1850s the average South Australian woman could expect to have six live children during her reproductive years. By 1900 the figure had fallen to fewer than four children. During the 1930s, South Australia approached the level of zero population growth (total fertility rate below 2.115), however, the post-war baby boom saw the rate rise to 3.75 in 1961. It fell to the lowest ever rate of 1.74 in 1980. Since the early 1960s, the South Australian fertility rate has been consistently about 7% less than the Australian Average.
Infant mortality rate usually refers to the annual number of deaths to children under one year of age per thousand live births. Before 1870, however, South Australian statistics were compiled for children under two years of age. The dramatic decline in the infant mortality rate from 1870 matched the decline in total fertility rate. The expectation that most children would live to maturity was probably one of the factors accounting for the decline in family size.
Between 1870 and 1885 infant deaths frequently accounted for a third or more of all South Australian deaths. By 1903 the figure fell below 20%. Whereas in 1875 the infant mortality rate was 181 per thousand infants, it had fallen to 8 per thousand by 1981, the lowest rate of all the Australian States. The national average was 10 per thousand.
Masculinity ratio measures the number of males per hundred females. In the pioneering years until 1891 the masculinity ratio was above 105; however, during the twentieth century there has been little disparity between the sexes. Since the late 1960s the ratio has been slightly below 100, reflecting a 'mature' economy and an ageing society in which women outlive men by several years.
Ageing of the population is normally expressed as the percentage of the total population aged sixty-five years or over. In South Australia the percentage of the aged has increased steadily over the past century with an upswing since 1970, a consequence both of the declining fertility rate and the continuing fall in death rates. Not only have the young and middle-aged escaped death to an unprecedented degree, but the elderly have also been living longer.
Causes of death: Records of the causes of death have been maintained in South Australia since 1842, but long-term comparisons are risky because of the uncertainties of medical diagnosis in the nineteenth century. What is clear, however, is that infants and children formed a high proportion of all nineteenth century deaths. They succumbed mainly to infections of the bowel and lungs, especially diarrhoeal diseases, typhoid fever and diphtheria, and to epidemics of measles and scarlet fever. Death rates in Adelaide were much higher than in country areas, the consequence of overcrowded housing for the poor, inadequate water supplies and lax sanitation.
Effluent from privies flowed to soakage areas in the parklands around Adelaide and the city was depicted in 1883 as a 'city of stenches' by Dr. Horatio Whitell, President of the Central Board of Health. The major factor in reducing infant mortality from diarrhoeal disease by the end of the nineteenth century was probably the construction of a deep drainage scheme to the Islington sewage farm. Tuberculosis, however, was to remain a scourge of adolescents and young adults until the 1930s.
Since 1907 the classification of causes of death in Australia has been based on International Lists of Causes of Deaths. There have been seven revisions of the classification to 1958 but these have had only minor effects on the long-term comparability of the figures in the graph. The principal long-term trends depicted are the virtual elimination of bowel and lung infections as causes of death; the rise and than a recent contraction in deaths from cerebrovascular disease; the massive increase in heart disease after 1930, and an increasing number of deaths from cancer as the population ages. Although road accidents have replaced tuberculosis as the main killer of adolescents and adults under forty-five years of age, the percentage of total deaths due to accidents of all types has changed little during the twentieth century.
Population in County Adelaide: There is no unambiguous way of expressing the percentage of the South Australian population which is 'metropolitan' as distinct from 'rural' or living in country towns. The percentage of the total population living in County Adelaide is one of a number of imperfect measures. As a geographic area County Adelaide has the merit that its boundaries have not changed over time. Extending from the River Gawler in the north to Sellicks Beach in the south, and including the western slopes of the Mount Lofty Ranges, it virtually coincides with the Adelaide Statistical Division of the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
In earlier years much of the population of County Adelaide was engaged in rural pursuits rather than metropolitan activities. This 'heartland' region of the State has never held less than 40% of the population, and only between 1855 and 1921 has it held less than 60% of all South Australians. Since 1966 the Australian Bureau of Statistics has applied the criterion of population density uniformly throughout Australia in defining for statistical purposes, the boundaries of metropolitan centres. These boundaries change with the outward spread of city growth. Thus, in 1966 the population defined as metropolitan formed 66.67% of the State population compared with the County Adelaide share of 70.6%. In 1981 the ratios were 68.68% and 75.2% respectively.
Interstate migration: The 1976 census records that about 14% of those born in South Australia were living elsewhere in Australia. The state of birth was not recorded in the 1981 census. The 1976 map reflects the destinations of long-term movements of population out of South Australia.
About 33% of all South Australian 'expatriates' in 1976 were in Victoria, another 25% in New South Wales and 17% in Western Australia. Metropolitan Melbourne, with nearly 26,000 South Australian-born, can rightly claim status as the second largest city of South Australians. Whyalla, the State's second largest city, had scarcely 15,000 persons born in South Australia. The total number of South Australians residing outside the State is shown by dots and circles. The percentage of those born in South Australia compared with all those born in Australia is shown by coloured shading. The 'proximity effect' on migration patterns can be seen in the high ratios of South Australian-born people living in western Victoria and far western New South Wales. The tendency for migrants to seek areas of expanding employment growth is reflected in the high ratios in the North Territory and in Western Australia, two areas of buoyant economic growth, especially in the mining industry in the 1960s and 1970s. Of urban areas outside the State, Darwin had the largest ratio, with South Australians forming 10.8% of the Australian-born population. Canberra ranged next with 3.34% followed by Perth with 2.26%.
Population change 1961-1981: Between the census years of 1961 and 1981 the population of the State increased by nearly 350,000 people or 36%. This growth, however, was geographically very uneven and, as depicted on the map of population changes within local government areas, there were substantial areas showing net population decline. The Adelaide Statistical Division accounted for 78% of the State's net population growth, and Whyalla, Port Augusta, Mount Gambier and Port Lincoln for 8.4%.
Some of the larger country towns grew substantially over the twenty years - Murray Bridge by 60%, Port Augusta by 57%, Port Lincoln by 42% and Mount Gambier by 29%. None was more spectacular than Whyalla which grew from 13,711 to 29,962 people, an increase of 118%. However, by 1981 Whyalla had slumped from its peak population of 33,426 in 1976, following the closure of its shipyard and its rationalisation of steel production. Port Pirie scarcely grew at all in the two decades, whereas Port Augusta gained from the consolidation of railway repair and maintenance facilities and from its growth as a service centre and staging point for power and mineral developed in the South Australian outback.
Some areas of comparatively recent agricultural land development such as the upper South-East, the Riverland, Kangaroo Island and western Eyre Peninsula showed modest population increases. However, the older settled agricultural regions of the Mid North, Yorke Peninsula and Murray Mallee showed marked population decline. Contributing factors included the amalgamation of farms, the mechanisation of agriculture, the willingness of rural people to travel to larger centres for their shopping and services, and the readiness of rural workers, even some farmers, to travel daily from larger centres. These factors have been operating for several decades and are likely to persist. A semicircle of population increases around Adelaide from Victor Harbor in the South to Mallala in the north matches the experience of urban peripheral areas throughout Australia, as elsewhere in the western world. Growth has been promoted by the intensification of agriculture, long distance commuting by urban workers, and the popularity of hobby farming and semi-rustic living by former city dwellers.