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Projecting the sexual minority population: Methods, data, and illustrative projections for Australia

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-09-20, 00:36 authored by T Wilson, J Temple, Anthony LyonsAnthony Lyons
BACKGROUND Attitudes to sexual minorities have undergone a transformation in many Western countries in recent decades. With much greater public acceptance, and an increase in policies and legislation to support equality and outlaw discrimination, the need for population statistics on sexual minority populations has grown. However, such statistics remain rare: Only a few sets of population estimates have been produced in a small number of countries, and there are no population projections of which we are aware. OBJECTIVE The aims of this paper are to introduce a model for producing projections of a national population by sexual identity, suggest ways in which data and conceptual limitations can be handled, and present illustrative population projections for Australia. METHODS An adapted multistate cohort-component is described, along with various data sources and approaches for preparing plausible projection assumptions. Two illustrative scenarios for the future of Australia's sexual minority population over the 2016-2041 period are presented. RESULTS According to the selected scenarios, Australia's sexual minority population is projected to increase rapidly over the coming decades, rising from 0.65 million in 2016 to between 1.25 and 1.57 million by 2041. This growth is generated by sexual minority cohort flow - the gradual replacement of cohorts with lower proportions of sexual minority identification by those with the higher proportions - and identification change. The overall share of the population identifying with a sexual minority identity is likely to increase. CONCLUSION Although the projections remain illustrative and approximate, the likely coming growth of the sexual minority population signals multiple social, health, and economic policy implications ahead. CONTRIBUTION The paper presents a novel projection method and example projections of an underresearched and stigmatised population.


This paper uses unit record data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The HILDA Project was initiated and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (Melbourne Institute) . The findings and views reported in this paper, however, are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the DSS or the Melbourne Institute. TW and JT were supported by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (project number CE1101029) . Ethics approval for this project was granted by the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health Human Ethics Advisory Group (ID 2056346.1) . The authors thank the anonymous reviews for their helpful comments and suggestions on the initial version of this paper.


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Demographic Research



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36p. (p. 361-396)


The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research



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