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Birth Registrations Increase

Birth Registrations Increase

There were 56,870 live births registered in New Zealand in the March 2004 year, Statistics New Zealand reported today. This is 4.1 percent more than in the March 2003 year (54,660) and the highest number since the March 2000 year (57,930).

Annual birth rates for the March 2004 year suggest that New Zealand women average 1.98 births per woman. This is below the level required for the population to replace itself without migration (2.10 births per woman). However, our fertility rate is at least 15 percent higher than the fertility rate for Canada, Sweden (both 1.6 births per woman), England and Wales, and Australia (both 1.7 births per woman).

The trend towards 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 30.3 years, compared with 28.4 years in 1994, and 24.9 years in the early 1970s.

In the March 2004 year, women aged 30–34 years had the highest fertility rate (117 births per 1,000 women) followed closely by those aged 25–29 years (110 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 March 2004 year. Similarly, the current fertility rate for women under 20 years (27 per 1,000) is roughly one-third of the level in 1972 (69 per 1,000).

Deaths registered in the March 2004 year totalled 28,200 compared with 27,800 in the March 2003 year, an increase of 1.4 percent. The complete life tables for the New Zealand population for 2000–2002 indicate that a newborn girl can expect to live, on average, 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.

The natural increase of population (the excess of births over deaths) was 28,680 in the March 2004 year, up 6.8 percent on the year ended March 2003. Over the same period, the rate of natural increase rose from 6.8 per 1,000 to 7.1 per 1,000. Natural increase accounted for 51 percent of the population growth during the March 2004 year, and net migration the remaining 49 percent.

Ian Ewing

Acting Government Statistician


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