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European Population to Remain Steady

European Population to Remain Steady

New Zealand's European population is projected to increase from 3.07 million at 30 June 2001 to 3.12 million in 2010, before dropping slightly to 3.10 million in 2021, according to Statistics New Zealand. These figures are from series 6 of the latest National European Population Projections (2001-base). Series 11, which assumes higher fertility and smaller net out-migration compared with series 6, projects a European population of 3.46 million in 2021.

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

The annual growth rate of the European population is projected to fall from 0.5 percent in 2002 to -0.1 percent by 2021. Because the European population is projected to grow at a slower rate than the total New Zealand population, the European share of the total population will drop from 79 percent in 2001 to 69 percent in 2021.

The slower growth of the European population is driven by three demographic factors. Firstly, European women have lower fertility rates, averaging 1.75 births per woman compared with the replacement level fertility of 2.1. Secondly, a net out-migration is assumed for most years of the projection period. Thirdly, the European population has an older age structure which results in lower natural increase (excess of birth over deaths) and lower momentum for future population growth compared with the Mäori and Pacific populations.

European births are projected to decrease from 39,000 in 2002 to 33,000 in 2011 and then remain stable. The decrease is driven by the declining number of European women in the childbearing ages (15–49 years). The number of European deaths will increase from 24,000 in 2002 to 28,000 in 2021 because of more people at older ages.

Auckland 09 920 9100 Email: Our Information Centres are at: Wellington 04 931 4600 Toll free: 0508 525 525 Christchurch 03 964 8700 The age structure of the European population will undergo changes reflecting the combined impact of European net out-migration (especially at ages 20–26 years), gains in longevity and the ageing of the European population. By 2021, half the European population will be older than 44 years, compared with a median age of 37 years in 2001. In comparison, the median age of the total New Zealand population is projected to rise from 35 years in 2001 to 40 years in 2021.

The number of European children (0–14 years) is projected to decrease by 25 percent during the 20-year projection period, from 653,000 in 2001 to 492,000 in 2021. Their share of the European population is expected to decrease from 21 to 16 percent over this period. European children will make up 62 percent of all New Zealand children in 2021, compared with 74 percent in 2001.

The European working-age population (defined as those aged 15–64 years) is projected to increase initially, from 2.00 million in 2001 to 2.05 million in 2009, and then steadily decrease to reach 1.94 million in 2021. Within this group, the population aged 15–39 years is expected to decrease from 1.04 million in 2001 to 0.91 million in 2021, a drop of 130,000 or 12 percent. In contrast, the number of people aged 40–64 years is projected to increase by 130,000 between 2001 and 2012, from 0.96 million to 1.09 million. After 2012, their number will decline to 1.03 million in 2021. The contrasting trends of the 15–39 and 40–64 age groups reflect the ageing of the large birth cohorts of the 1950s to 1970s.

The most rapid growth among the age groups will occur in the number of European people aged 65 years and over. Their number is projected to reach 674,000 by 2021, up 58 percent from 426,000 in 2001. Those aged 65 years and over will comprise 22 percent of the total European population in 2021 compared with 14 percent in 2001. The older segment (aged 65+ years) will outnumber European children (aged 0–14 years) by 2013.

Series 6 of the European 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. The projections should be used as indications, rather than exact forecasts, of future changes in European population size and structure. They are based on the concept of self-identification of ethnicity, and exclude people who have European ancestry but do not identify with a European ethnicity.

Brian Pink Government Statistician END

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