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Birth Numbers Recover Partially


Birth Numbers Recover Partially

About 54,940 live births were registered in New Zealand in the June 2003 year, nearly 1,000 more than in the June 2002 year (53,970) but about 1,300 fewer than in the June 2001 year (56,220), Statistics New Zealand reported today.

Annual birth rates for the June 2003 year suggest that New Zealand women average 1.92 births per woman. This is about 9 percent below the level (2.10 births per woman) required for the population to replace itself without migration. However, our fertility rate is at least 10 percent higher than the fertility rate for Canada, England and Wales, and Sweden. Australia's fertility rate was 1.73 births per women in 2001.

The trend toward delayed motherhood is continuing. On average, New Zealand women are now having children five years later than their counterparts in the early 1970s. The median age (half are older than this age, and half younger) of New Zealand women giving birth is now 30.2 years, compared with 28.3 years in 1993, and 24.9 years in the early 1970s.

In the June 2003 year, the age group 30–34 years, with a fertility rate of 113 births per 1,000 women, was the most common age group for childbearing, followed closely by the age group 25–29 years (107 births per 1,000 women). This represents a significant departure from the early 1970s when early marriage and early childbearing were the norm, and the age group 20–24 years was the commonest age for childbearing. Their fertility rate at that time was over 200 per 1,000, but in the June year 2003 was only 69 per 1,000. Similarly, the current fertility rate for teenagers (26 per 1,000) is roughly one-third of the level in 1972 (69 per 1,000).

Deaths registered in the June 2003 year totalled 27,760, about 1 percent less than for the June 2002 year (28,060). The abridged life table for the New Zealand population for 1999–2001 indicates that a newborn girl can expect to live, on average, 80.9 years, and a newborn boy 76.0 years. This represents a gain of 2.2 years for females and 3.1 years for males since 1990–1992.

The natural increase of population (the excess of births over deaths) was 27,180 in the June 2003 year, up 1,270 or 4.9 percent on 2002 (25,910). However, the natural increase in the June 2003 year was lower than that recorded in any of the June years 1988–2001.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician

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