Growing, Aging: SA Revealed in New Report

South Australians are older, sicker and less religious than residents of any other mainland Australian state, the latest census data shows.

Australia’s Bureau of Statistics data from the 2021 Census, released this morning, shows that the number of people counted as usual were residents of South Australia (SA) at 1.8 million, up from 1.7. million in 2016.

About 1.4 million people – nearly 80 percent of the state’s population – now live in Greater Adelaide.

The median age for people from SA has been increasing over the past 50 years.

In 1971 the median age was 27 years. It rose to 40 in 2016 and again to 41 in 2021 – three years above the national median age of 38.

The median age was higher in SA than in the other five mainland states, with NSW the next oldest at 39 and Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia all 38 years.

The areas were the most youthful; the median age in the NT was only 33 years, followed by 35 in the ACT, but Tasmania’s median age was the highest at 42.

South Australia is also the sickest of all mainland states, with 42.1 percent of SA respondents reporting at least one long-term medical condition. This was above the national average of 39.8 percent and higher than any other mainland state.

The 2021 census first listed 10 long-term health problems, including asthma, cancer, heart disease, mental illness, diabetes and stroke.

South Australia had a higher rate than the national average in every category except for kidney disease, which was on par with the national figure.

Growing, Aging: SA Revealed in New Report

Courtesy ABS


The number of people in South Australia who identify as having no religion has increased by more than 200,000 to 806,165 since the 2016 census.

This represented 45.3 percent of the population, well above the national average of 38.4 percent and higher than any other mainland state.

Christianity remains the country’s most common religion, with 43.9 percent of people identifying with the denomination.

However, the figure has fallen from more than 60 percent a decade earlier.

Aboriginals and Peoples of the Torres Strait

In the 2021 census, 43,000 people in South Australia identified themselves as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, accounting for 2.4 percent of the SA population. This was an increase of 34,000 in 2016 and lower than Australia’s 3.2 percent in 2021.

Country of birth

Most people in South Africa were born in Australia, but the proportion of people born abroad has increased over time.

In 1971, 23.8 percent of people were born abroad. This decreased slightly to 22.9 percent in 2016, but climbed back to 24.1 percent in 2021.

In 2021, the top five countries of birth in South Africa were: Australia (71.5 percent), England (5.3 percent), India (2.5 percent), China (1.4 percent) and Vietnam (1.0 per cent).


In 2021, the majority of people in South Africa spoke only English at home (77.6 percent), compared to 78.2 percent in 2016.

The next most commonly used languages ​​were Mandarin (1.8 percent), Italian (1.3 percent), Greek (1.2 percent), Vietnamese (1.2 percent), and Punjabi (1.1 percent).


The median weekly income was $734 for South Australian individuals and $1,889 for families in 2021. These increased from 2016 when incomes were $600 for individuals and $1,510 for families.

Household and Families

Growing, Aging: SA Revealed in New Report

Courtesy ABS

The number of households in South Australia has shrunk significantly over the past 50 years.

In 2021, the average number of people living in each SA household was 2.4, down from 3.3 people in 1971.

In 2021, 68.0 percent of households were family households. This was a slight decrease from 68.4 percent in 2016.

The most common type of family in SA were families without children. In 2021, 41.0 percent of families were couples without children and 16.6 percent were single-parent families.


Growing, Aging: SA Revealed in New Report

Courtesy ABS

The 2021 census counted 723,000 occupied private homes in South Australia.

This was an increase from 674,000 in 2016 and almost double the 342,000 occupied private homes in SA in 1971.

In 2021, most people lived in houses (78.0 percent), rather than units, apartments or other housing types.

This was just over 77.8 percent in 2016.

The proportion of people living in flats or apartments also rose from 6.6 percent in 2016 to 6.8 percent.

In 2021, 68.4 percent of households in SA were homeowners (owning or with a mortgage). This was a slight increase from 67.5 percent in 2016.

Australian statistician David Gruen said the latest census data revealed important insights into the nation.

“Every stat tells a story, and today we’re sharing a look at the stories of nearly 25.5 million Australians,” he said.

“The census was conducted at an unprecedented time in Australia’s history and provides a unique snapshot of the population during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is different from previous censuses.”


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