Our perceptions are not the reality in Australia 258



View Profile

How many immigrants do you think there are in Australia per 100 people? 60? 30? 20? The real answer might be a little shocking to you – 28 per cent of our population are immigrants.

In a new survey by Ipsos, our perceptions of the country we live in are not anywhere near the reality. In the last few months, there has been backlash against the Islamic population of Australia, but how many Muslims are truly living in this country? If you guessed 18 per cent, you would have had the same average guess as the 1,000 respondents of the survey. However, the real figure is 2 per cent. That’s right – only 2 per cent of our population are of an Islamic faith, and 61 per cent are Christian (average guess was 45 per cent). But why do we think this? Why have we grossly overestimated how many people of a certain faith we have in Australia and not of another? Does media play a role in this?

This isn’t the only disparity between our guesses and the reality – Australians believe there are many more over 65s than there really are! 14 per cent of the Australian population are over 65, but the survey results showed that we think our population is made up of 37 per cent seniors. Does it really feel like that? How many seniors would you have thought there were?

The skewed perspective flowed on to employment and when asked “Out of every 100 people of working age, about how many do you think are unemployed and looking for work?”, we answered 23 per cent, despite it being 6 per cent. The only time in the survey where we underestimated the results (other than about Christianity) was how many election people voted in the last election. Was it 84 per cent? Nope – it was 93 per cent. In comparison, of eligible voters in the US, 67 per cent voted but their respondents thought it was more like 57 per cent. Have we lost our faith in our fellow Australians so much so that we think they don’t have jobs and don’t vote?

From these findings, not only can we draw conclusions about our own thinking, but present them to the world. Is this how we want to display ourselves, as ignorant and out of touch with statistics? This Ipsos survey was given to citizens of 14 countries (including Oz): Italy, France, Britain, Hungary, South Korea, Japan, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Canada, USA, Poland and Belgium. Of these countries, we were the 9th most ignorant behind Canada, and the US – Italy came out on top.


Can we learn from this survey? Are we too negative about our population? Or is it just in our nature to overestimate? Tell us your thoughts below.

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I was an i migrant child. Everyone who lives in Australia can be classed as an immigrant except the Indigenous, who ended up here isolated because of the shifting plates of earth, eons ago!

  2. Please show how many “boat people” that have come to our shores and the percentage of our population please. We Australians are of the impression that we are being invaded by these “boat people” when, in reality, they are just scapegoats or political footballs for our politicians to kick around.

  3. We were taught they travelled across land from what is now Europe before the plates separated, so i guess we’re ALL immigrants Eileen. imo anyone who lives here and loves Australia is an Aussie, no matter what their heritage.

  4. Why is it that a minority has all the say, can not assimilate and puts upon us halal.

    3 REPLY
    • They don’t, they can, all migrants bring different dietary requirements. No-one is forced to eat anything but toad-in-the-hole if they don’t want to.

    • Its definitely a challenge to find non Halal foods. Very soon there will be no choice. Only last week 2 of our household food choices were eliminated due to the certification.

    • it isn’t to do with the Muslim population of Australia. It is the manufacturers setting up for export markets in the same way we are paying more for gas because most of our gas is being exported. The exporters make more money overseas than in Australia as our population is tiny by comparison.

  5. To Lynn because they make the most noise & have a brief to populate all of Australia.

    1 REPLY
    • Well they are not doing a very good job of it so far – only 2%

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *