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Partial Recovery in Births

Partial Recovery in Births

There were 55,210 live births registered in New Zealand in the September 2003 year, 1,200 more than in the September 2002 year (54,010) but 650 fewer than in the September 2001 year (55,860), Statistics New Zealand reported today.

Annual birth rates for the September 2003 year suggest that New Zealand women average 1.93 births per woman. This is about 8 percent below the level (2.10 births per woman) required for the population to replace itself without migration. However, our fertility rate is 20 percent higher than the fertility rate for Canada, England and Wales, and Sweden (1.6 births per woman). Australia's fertility rate was 1.7 births per woman.

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 September 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 (108 births per 1,000 women). This represents a significant departure from the early 1970s when early marriage and early childbearing were the norm. At this time, the age group 20–24 years was the commonest age for childbearing, with a fertility rate of over 200 per 1,000. This compares with only 69 per 1,000 in the September 2003 year. Similarly, the current fertility rate for the age group 15–19 years (25 per 1,000) is roughly one-third of the level in 1972 (69 per 1,000).

Deaths registered in the September 2003 year totalled 27,990, 120 fewer than for the September 2002 year (28,110). 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 27,220 in the September 2003 year, up 1,320 or 5.1 percent on the year ended September 2002 (25,900).

However, the natural increase in the September 2003 year was lower than that recorded in any of the September years 1988–2001.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician

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