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Sikhs contribute $8.1 billion annually to the Australian economy: report

Sikh community gathering in Melbourne's Federation Square Source: Supplied

The report entitled ‘Economic potential and impact of Sikhs’ highlights the productive impact the Sikhs have made to the Australian economy, and how it has grown over the years.

Sikhs are making Australia wealthier, according to a study conducted by Sikh Youth Australia and Young Sikh Professionals Network (YSPN), an organisation focused on empowering Sikh youth to “succeed and amplify their influence” in Australia.

The report entitled ‘Economic potential and impact of Sikhs’ claims that Sikh migrants made a net contribution of $8.1 billion to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016.

The findings of the report are predominantly based on Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) data from 2006 and the census output in 2016.

Karan Anand
Karan Anand, inaugural Chair, Young Sikh Professionals Network (YSPN), Australia.

Karan Anand, the inaugural Chair of YSPN, outlined the basis of the report in an interview with SBS Punjabi.

He said, "$8.1billion is an estimate for the gross domestic product (GDP) contribution to the Australian economy by Sikhs. 

“We knew how many Sikhs are there in each industry and the average economic contribution per worker in each industry and we multiplied the two,” explained Mr Anand.

He added that an individual's contribution to GDP far exceeds his or her income alone.

The GDP value expresses the market value of goods and services produced in Australia by Sikhs. So, in expressing the GDP contribution of Sikhs, we are showing their contribution to the economy via they work produce."

Illustrating this further, he said, "By comparison, personal income represents the value of an individual’s work, not the value of the goods and services they produce as a result of their work."

"As an example, a truck driver may earn an income of $100,000 income, however his/her contribution from providing that service to a company (and in large the economy) would generally be much higher than his personal income. For this reason, we believe GDP to be a more accurate measure of the economic impact of Sikhs."

"Our calculations account for total GDP by industry, segmented for number of Sikhs employed in the relevant industry. As an example, total GDP for the Transport, Postal and Warehousing sector was roughly $80bn contributed via 499k FTEs of which 13,000 were Sikhs, delivering a total GDP of $2.1bn."

The study further claims that the financial contribution of the Sikhs has grown exponentially from $1.1 billion in 2006 to $8.1 billion in 2016.

A picture taken at a Young Sikh Professionals Network (YSPN) event.

The significant growth has been largely attributed to the influx of migrants that have settled in the country during these ten years (2006-16).

“In all, the average economic contribution of Sikhs to the economy has grown at 22% annually, while the average population growth stands at 17%, which means that most of the economic contribution can be attributed to the growth of the Sikh population in Australia,” said Mr Anand.

“And the remaining 5% of growth has occurred because of the increase in productivity which means that more Sikhs are now working in higher paying jobs.”

A snapshot from YSPN's report on economic contribution of Sikhs to the Australian economy

Sikhs first came to Australia in the 1830s and there are an estimated 126,000 Sikhs living in Australia today, according to ABS.

Since the early days, Sikhs have known to be taking employment wherever they could find a vacancy. According to the latest census, a large proportion drive cabs and trucks, work as cooks, nurses, or aged and disability care workers. Many are self-employed too.

"Given that the population is growing rapidly, it is expected that the contribution of Sikhs to the Australian economy is likely to grow in the coming years," said Mr Anand.

“Along with the continued population growth, the fact that migrants who are now settled here are placing emphasis on their children’s education who’ll grow up to get gainful employment, is bound to change things. And that prospect is quite exciting,” he added.  

"Sikhs are one of the youngest religious cohorts in Australia with 25% of Sikhs below the age of 20 years and 84% of Sikhs below the age of 40 years."

"Along with the opportunities this provides for growth as a young, ambitious and fast growing community, the challenges for our community should be recognised. It must be recognised that the industries in which Sikhs are dominantly employed are generally most prone to disruption and/or decline (e.g. transport due to increasing automation)."

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