Census 2016: ‘No religion’ submissions rise as Christianity slides

More Australians are losing their religion, and for many home ownership is just a dream.

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But that’s only part of the picture from last year’s census.

The first batch of data, published on Tuesday, showed Australians are getting older, more are living alone and there’s a growing number of same-sex couples.

The country’s population has doubled to an estimated 24.4 million in 50 years, with nearly two million people added since the last census in 2011.

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The changing face of migration shifts from Europe to Asia

Australia now has a higher proportion of migrants than the United States and Britain and, for the first time, more are moving here from Asia than Europe.

The figures showed nearly half of the population were either born overseas or their parents were.

And of the more than six million born elsewhere, almost 20 per cent have arrived since 2012.

England and New Zealand are still the most common countries of birth after Australia but a growing number are born in China and India.

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Growth in Buddhism, Islam and Sikhism 

The number of Australians speaking only English at home fell from almost 77 per cent to nearly 73 per cent in five years, although more than 300 different languages are spoken in households.

Meanwhile, about one-third of Australians said they don’t have a religion – more than two million more than in 2011.

More are turning away from Christianity but there’s been a growth in Buddhism, Islam and Sikhism.

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An ageing population: 1 in 6 aged over 65

Overall, Australia’s population is getting older.

While your average Aussie is 38, one in six are over 65.

More than two-thirds live in capital cities – which are growing nearly twice as fast as the rest of the country, mostly thanks to migrants.

Sydney is still the largest city, boasting 4.8 million residents – up nearly 10 per cent in five years.

It comes as little surprise, then, that the number of people who have paid off their mortgage has dropped as house prices surge.

Just 31 per cent of Australians own their home outright, down from 32.1 per cent in 2011 and from 40 per cent a quarter of a century ago.

But the proportion of people who are paying off a mortgage is relatively steady at 34 per cent.

The data shows a shift towards renting, with nearly 31 per cent now paying a landlord, up from just under 30 per cent five years ago and 27 per cent in 1991.

Median rents have increased 17.5 per cent since 2011, but those with a mortgage have seen their repayments fall by an average $45 a month.

ABS insists data can be trusted 

Despite the census’ website crash, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ chief statistician, David Kalisch insists the data is high quality.

However, privacy concerns did take a toll, with some people giving fake names and withholding their date of birth.

There was also a sharp drop in the number of respondents allowing authorities to keep their data archived for 99 years.

The census had a response rate of 95 per cent, 1.5 per cent lower than in 2011, and 63 per cent completed it online.

Mr Kalisch said an independent panel concluded that the data could be used with confidence.

“Census data provides a detailed, accurate and fascinating picture of Australia, which will be used to inform critical policy, planning and service delivery decisions for our communities over the coming years,” he said.