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Life Expectancy Continues to Increase

Life Expectancy Continues to Increase

The average life expectancy of New Zealanders continues to rise, according to 2000–2002 complete life tables released by Statistics New Zealand. Based on mortality in 2000–2002, a newborn girl can expect to live 81.1 years and a newborn boy 76.3 years. These represent gains of 1.4 years for females and 1.9 years for males since 1995–1997. Three-quarters of these gains are due to reduced mortality rates in the late working and retirement ages (50–89 years). Mortality rates among young adults (15–24 years) and infants also declined significantly between the periods 1995–1997 and 2000–2002.

The male-female gap in life expectancy at birth continues to narrow. Newborn females can expect to outlive newborn males by 4.8 years in 2000–2002, down from a peak of 6.4 years in 1975–1977. Non-Mäori have a significant longevity advantage over Mäori. Life expectancy at birth for females of Mäori ethnicity was 73.2 years, compared with 81.9 years for non-Mäori females. For males, life expectancy at birth was 69.0 years for Mäori and 77.2 years for non-Mäori. This is an average difference between Mäori and non-Mäori of about 8.5 years, slightly less than the estimated difference of 9.1 years in 1995–1997. Lower non-Mäori mortality rates at ages 50–74 years account for over 60 percent of the difference between Mäori and non-Mäori life expectancy at birth.

Life tables for other ethnicities, such as the broad Pacific and Asian ethnic groups, have not been produced because of the small number of death registrations and uncertainty associated with ethnic identification and measurement.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician

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