Who Really Lives In Your Area?

May 3rd, 2024 - by Brad Gillespie

Baby Boomers, Gen X, or Gen Y: Which generation has the most residents in Sydney’s Inner City and Inner West?

We examine the Sydney Morning Herald’s analysis of 2021 Census data to find out.

Which generation do you belong to?

Before we get to that, though, it’s worth looking at what defines each generation. And for that, let’s turn to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), which offers the following definitions for the purposes of the 2021 Census:

Generation Birth year Age in 2021 Census % of population
Interwar 1945 or earlier 75+ 7.5%
Baby Boomer 1946-1965 55-74 21.5%
Gen X 1966-1980 40-54 19.3%
Gen Y (Millennial) 1981-1995 25-39 21.5%
Gen Z 1996-2010 10-24 18.2%
Alpha 2011+ 0-9 12%

Gen X passes the baton to Gen Y

One of the biggest trends visible in the demographic breakdown by suburb is that Gen X (the largest group in the 2011 Census) has been surpassed by Gen Y as the dominant demographic in the inner city and inner west.

Since the 2011 Census, Gen Y has become the major demographic group in most suburbs, including Newtown, Alexandria, Erskineville, Marrickville, Petersham, Stanmore, Sydenham, St Peters, Tempe, Redfern, Zetland, Beaconsfield, Rosebery and Surry Hills.

Because of this, the average age in these Gen Y suburbs tends to skew younger than the general population. For example, according to the 2021 Census, Alexandria and Erskineville had an average age of 34 - considerably younger than both the NSW (39 years) and Australian (38 years) averages.

Interestingly, between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, most of the suburbs listed above witnessed the shift from Gen X to Gen Y. It seems many in Gen X moved away from the inner west and inner city as they grew older.

Another factor could be that Gen Y’s numbers are actually increasing - but obviously not through birth rates. The Sydney Morning Herald’s analysis of Census data revealed that Gen Y is getting bigger as Australia’s population grows through migration. By the next Census, it forecasts Gen Y is likely to overtake the Baby Boomers as Sydney’s largest generation.

Gen Y continues its reign in Waterloo, Chippendale and Camperdown

Gen Y got an early hold in Waterloo, Chippendale and Camperdown, Darlington, Glebe, and Haymarket. It has continued to be the major demographic in these areas across the last three Censuses: 2011, 2016 and 2021.

Many of these suburbs are close to two major universities (UTS and University of Sydney), which tends to skew towards a younger student demographic.

The 2021 Census results confirm this. In Chippendale, 68.4% of those enrolled in education were attending a tertiary institute (TAFE, uni, or private providers). In Darlington, it was 76.8%.

As a comparison, the state and national averages are only around 23%.

Baby boomers remain solid in Earlwood and Croydon/Croydon Park

While they have long since lost their hold in many inner-west suburbs, Baby Boomers have been consistently dominant over the decade from 2011 to 2021 in two inner-west areas: Croydon/Croydon Park and Earlwood.

They have also emerged as a new force, taking over from Gen X in waterside suburbs (with higher price tags) like Abbotsford, Five Dock, and Drummoyne, possibly as these suburbs become more attractive to downsizers.

But where is Gen Z hiding?

One Group that doesn’t stand out in Sydney’s inner city and inner west is Gen Z. In fact, at the time of the 2021 Census, they weren’t the dominant demographic in any suburb in Sydney’s inner city or inner west.

But that’s probably for good reason.

For starters, 2021 is now three years ago, and at that time, Gen Z would have only been between 10 and 24 years old. They’re now aged between 13 and 27 years old. Many - if not the majority of them - would have been (and probably still are) living at home with their parents and family.

Secondly, there are fewer Gen Zers than some other generations. While ABS data showed that in 2021, Gen Y and Baby Boomers were equally matched in terms of numbers (both accounted for the largest proportion, 21.5% of the population each, at the 2021 census), Gen Z was noticeably smaller, making up just 18.2% of the population.

In fact, at the time of the 2021 Census, there were even fewer Gen Zers living in Australia than there were Gen Xers (19.3%).

Erkineville and Alexandria growing fast

One notable trend in Erskineville and Alexandria has been the rapid rate of population growth. In 2011, 13,898 people lived between the two suburbs.

By 2016, the local population was 16,233, and by 2021, it was 19,126. This represents 37.6% growth over the decade.

To house this growing population, we’ve also seen a sharp rise in the number of homes, with many parts of our area transforming from industrial to residential. Between 2011 and 2021, the number of dwellings had increased by 41.3% to hit 10,427.

Want more?

Contact our team today to find out more about how we can help you buy and sell in Sydney’s inner city and inner west.