Residents are abandoning Australia at record levels, according to new figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Almost 85,000 people formally departed Australia in the final three months of 2017 — almost 9,000 more than in the same period in 2016.

But experts are unsure about exactly what is causing the increase.

The ABS measures a resident as someone who has been in Australia for 12 out of the past 16 months, so includes many foreign students and workers on temporary visas.

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