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600,000 Asian People by 2021

600,000 Asian People by 2021

New Zealand's Asian population is projected to reach 604,000 in 2021, according to Statistics New Zealand. This is more than double the estimated resident population of Asian ethnicity of 272,000 at 30 June 2001. These figures are from series 6 of the latest National Asian Population Projections (2001-base).

The Asian population includes people who identify with an Asian ethnicity, including those who identify with other ethnicities such as European. Projections of the Mäori and Pacific populations were released in May 2003. Projections of the European population will be released on 25 June 2003. People who identify with more than one ethnicity will be included in each ethnic population.

The annual growth rate of the Asian population is projected to slow from 13 percent in 2002 to 4 percent in 2007 and to under 2 percent by 2021. This is due to the assumed decline in the net migration level during the projection period. However, the Asian population will still grow at a faster pace than the total New Zealand population because of the higher levels of migration assumed for the Asian population. Consequently, the Asian share of the total population is projected to rise from 7 percent in 2001 to 13 percent in 2021.

Asian births are projected to increase from 4,600 in 2002 to 6,900 in 2016, before dropping slightly to 6,600 in 2021. The increase is driven by more Asian women in the childbearing ages (15–49 years). The number of Asian deaths will also increase, from 700 in 2002 to 1,900 in 2021.

The age structure of the Asian population will undergo changes reflecting the combined impact of Asian immigration (especially at ages 15–20 years), gains in longevity and the ageing of the Asian population.

By 2021, half the Asian population will be older than 36 years, compared with a median age of 29 years in 2001. This is still younger than the total New Zealand population, which is projected to have a median age of 40 years in 2021, up from 35 years in 2001.

The most rapid growth among the age groups will occur in the number of Asian people aged 65 years and over. Their number is projected to reach 55,000 by 2021, five times the 2001 population of 11,000. Those aged 65 years and over will comprise 9 percent of the total Asian population in 2021 compared with 4 percent in 2001.

The Asian working-age population (defined as those aged 15–64 years) is projected to more than double from 200,000 in 2001 to 431,000 in 2021. Within this group, the population aged 15–39 years is expected to jump from 130,000 in 2001 to 195,000 in 2006, and then increase to 222,000 by 2021. This is an increase of 72 percent over the 2001 figure. The Asian population aged 40–64 years is projected to almost treble between 2001 and 2021 from 70,000 to 208,000.

The number of Asian children (0–14 years) is projected to nearly double during the 20-year projection period, from 61,000 in 2001 to 118,000 in 2021. Their share of the Asian population is expected to decrease from 23 percent to 19 percent over this period. However, Asian children will make up about 15 percent of all New Zealand children in 2021, compared with 7 percent in 2001.

Series 6 of the Asian population projections referred to above is one of 11 alternative series produced using different assumptions about future changes in fertility, mortality, migration and inter-ethnic mobility patterns. Projections of the Asian population are particularly uncertain because of the volatility of Asian migration levels and sensitivity of migration to changes in immigration policy. The projections should be used as indications, rather than exact forecasts, of future changes in Asian population size and structure. They are based on the concept of self-identification of ethnicity, and exclude those people who have Asian ancestry but do not identify with an Asian ethnicity.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician

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