We've now got lots of numbers and figures from the latest census, providing a trove of information for governments and planners. It also tells us a lot about who we are as a city, and how Canberrans have changed.
So who is the typical Canberran?
Well, that's hard to say but for the sake of this exercise, we can look at some of the figures in the census to get an idea of what is average, or most common, in Canberrans, and how that differs from our fellow Australians.
There are few challenges with doing this, of course, which we'll get to later on, but keep in mind this is more for helping to explain the numbers and what they mean, rather than a scientific examination to define the one true Canberran.
With that out of the way, we'll try to construct a typical, but fictional, Canberran. Let's call her Jessica Berran.
Here's Jessica. Say hi.
We're choosing Jessica for a couple of reasons. Canberrans are slightly more likely to be women (50.6 per cent) than men (49.4 per cent) - the ABS did have a response option for non-binary, but didn't include that in any of its results so far.
Jessica was the most popular girl's name back in 1991, which is the closest results we can get easily to 1987, when she would have been born. The median age in Canberra is 35.
That makes her a millennial (age 25-39), a group that is now rivalling the baby boomers (55-74) for size - each accounts for roughly 21.5 per cent of the national population. We don't have an official breakdown for the ACT, but given the median in Canberra is younger than the nation overall (38 years), it's a good chance that she's part of the largest generation in the city.
Jessica is pretty unlikely to be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. First Nations people made up 2 per cent of the ACT population. That was an increase on five years ago, but still well down on the 3.2 per cent rate nationally.
She was most likely born in Australia though, just like 67.5 per cent of other Canberrans. If she wasn't, it's next most likely she was born in India (3.8 per cent, up from 2.6 per cent five years ago), which overtook England (2.9 per cent, down from 3.2 per cent) for second place.
But there's a slightly better than even chance (50.4 per cent) at least one of her parents was born overseas.
Looking further back in her family tree, there's a good chance she has heritage in Britain or Ireland, which combined for more than 85 per cent of Canberrans' declared ancestry.
If she was ever at all religious (in which case she was most likely a Catholic), she's probably becoming less so. The top response for religious affiliation in Canberra was "no religion" at 43.5 per cent, which jumped from 36.2 per cent five years earlier. The various forms of Christianity combined for 38.1 per cent.
Jessica is most likely living with her family, the grouping that makes up more than two thirds of Canberra households.
Now seems a good time to meet Matthew (let's keep using that popular baby names of 1991 list rather than taking the easy way and calling him Ken).
We'll say he's her husband, as they are most likely to be married, although not necessarily. Canberrans are a bit more likely to be married (46.7 per cent) or have never married (39.3 per cent) than other Australians, and less likely to be split up. Marriage takes in both registered unions and de facto relationships. And while the latter are growing in number (12.5 per cent, from 11.5 per cent), they still lag well behind the more traditional sort (46.8 per cent, down from 48.1 per cent).
And they've likely got kids, too - 1.8 of them. Although, when you look at all households together, the average number of people living in each one is 2.5.
If we're wrong, and Jessica and Matthew are among 10.3 per cent of Canberrans separated or divorced, then as a Canberran, there's a better chance that Matthew is the looking after the kids as the lone parent (22.3 per cent are men), at least compared with elsewhere (19.6 per cent). Really though, let's be honest, it's still much more likely to be Jessica's role (77.7 per cent).
But let's keep assuming - for their sake and ours - that they are still happily married.
Income-wise, the family is doing a bit better than five years ago, at least in nominal terms. The median family income is up to $2872 a week, or a tad under $150,000 a year. It's a bit less impressive when you take inflation into account, but the "real" increase is still probably a bit over $10,000 a year.
That's probably good news if they are renting. The ACT has the highest rents in the nation, at a median $450 a week, well over the $375 nationally and $65 higher than in 2016. Of course, if they were paying off their mortgage - again, that's pretty likely - they'd be paying $480 a week. That's a bit higher than the $430 for Australians overall, but it's actually a bit less than they would have been paying five years ago (thanks low interest rates prompted by a global pandemic).
There's a bit of apples-oranges with those figures, though, as Canberra is largely just one big city. Cities tend to have higher rents and house prices, while all the other states and territories have regional areas where rents are lower to help bring down the median.
Chances are, Jessica and Matthew have a car each - the ACT average is 1.8 per dwelling.
While that dwelling is most likely the standalone house in the suburbs (63.2 per cent) they'd been hoping for (although no white picket fence, as it is Canberra after all). It's less likely to be a standalone house than it used to be (67 per cent), and less likely than if they live elsewhere (72.3 per cent). Apartment living in Canberra is growing and there's little sign that is going to slow.
The Berran family have 3.1 bedrooms in their home, just like they used to and the rest of the nation does. However, while the share of three (37.1 per cent) and four-plus bedrooms (35.8 per cent) remain the highest in Canberra, those numbers are dropping as the city gets more one- and two-bedroom units.
Jessica is doing a little bit less unpaid domestic work than she used to, and she's a fair bit less likely to have been volunteering than previously. But the survey being done during COVID restrictions, even if it was just before the 2021 lockdown, probably meant it was a bit harder to be helping out in the community.
She's hopefully thankful that she's a tiny bit more likely to have no long-term health conditions (61 per cent) than most Australians (60.2 per cent). Although she is a bit more likely to have asthma (9 per cent) or a mental health condition (10 per cent) than if she lived elsewhere (8.1 per cent, and 8.8 per cent).
We mentioned early on that this process isn't a properly scientific one for several reasons, so let's acknowledge some of those now so you've got a better context.
For one, some of the stats we are looking at use averages, where we add up all the figures, and divide them by the population. Others use the median, which is the mid-point, where half the results fall above and half fall below.
To understand the difference, think of a room of 10 people. If Gina Reinhardt walks in, none of us are going to get any richer but the average wealth is going to skyrocket. The median wealth goes up a bit, too, but not so much.
There are also plenty of percentages in there, too, and combining all these things can be a bit messy.
Hopefully, though, it's given you a bit of an insight into how our city and people are changing.
We'll be writing plenty more on the census as we sift through the data and more of it is published. In the meantime, here are some of the other pieces we've written so far.
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