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Upturn in Population Growth

National Population Estimates: December 2001 quarter

Upturn in Population Growth

New Zealand's estimated resident population at 31 December 2001 was 3,880,500, according to the latest population estimates released by Statistics New Zealand. This represents an increase of 37,300 or 1.0 percent over the 31 December 2000 figure, and is just above the 0.8 percent average annual growth rate of the previous five years.

The increase in the December 2001 year was more than double the increase in the previous year due to a turnaround in net migration, from a net outflow to a net inflow of permanent and long-term migrants. Arrivals exceeded departures by 9,500 during the December 2001 year, compared with a net outflow of 11,300 in the December 2000 year. Over this period, the contribution of natural increase (excess of births over deaths) to population growth contracted further. Births exceeded deaths by 27,800 during the December 2001 year, compared with 28,700 in 2000, and 31,600 in 1992.

The estimated increase in the resident population during the December 2001 quarter was 17,700 or 0.5 percent. This resulted from a natural increase of 6,800, and a net inflow of 11,000 through permanent and long-term migration. The corresponding population increases for the December quarters of 2000 and 1999 were much lower at 6,600 and 9,700 respectively. The larger population gain in the December 2001 quarter was due mainly to a larger net inflow of permanent and long-term migrants. In the December 2000 quarter there was a net population outflow of 200 and in the December quarter of 1999 there was a small net population inflow of 1,600.

Population ageing is continuing. Half of New Zealanders are now over 34.7 years of age, compared with a median age of 31.5 years in 1991. Children under 15 years numbered 876,200 at 31 December 2001 and made up 22.6 percent of all New Zealanders, down from 23.1 percent in 1991. People aged 65 years and over totalled 460,800 and made up 11.9 percent of all New Zealanders, up from 11.3 percent in 1991. The working age population (aged 15 to 64 years) numbered 2,543,600 and accounted for 65.5 percent of all New Zealanders, compared with 65.6 percent in 1991. The movement of the 'baby boomers' into the older working ages means that the labour force is taking on an older profile.

The population estimates contained in this release were obtained by updating the 1996-base resident population (adjusted for census undercount and for residents temporarily overseas) for births, deaths and external migration occurring between 5 March 1996 and 31 December 2001. Final census night population counts and census usually resident population counts from the 2001 Census of Population and Dwellings (held 6 March) were released on 17 December 2001. These census counts are not comparable with the estimated resident population. Estimates of the resident population include adjustments for net census undercount and for New Zealanders temporarily overseas on census night, whereas census counts do not include these components of the resident population.

Brian Pink Government Statistician END

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