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Births Bounce Back

Births Bounce Back

There were 57,890 live births registered in New Zealand in the year to 30 June 2004, Statistics New Zealand reported today. This is 5.4 percent more than in the year to June 2003 (54,940) and returns the number of live births registered to just under the number recorded in the June 2000 year (58,030).

Annual birth rates for the June 2004 year suggest that New Zealand women average 2.01 births per woman. This is below the level required for any population to replace itself without migration (2.10 births per woman). However, our fertility rate is higher than that 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 now have 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 28.4 years in 1994, and 24.9 years in the early 1970s.

In the June 2004 year, women aged 30–34 years had the highest fertility rate (118 births per 1,000 women), followed closely by those aged 25–29 years (112 per 1,000). This is a significant departure from the early 1970s when early marriage and early childbearing were the norm. At that time, the 20–24 year age group was the most common for childbearing, with a fertility rate of over 200 births per 1,000 women. This compares with only 71 per 1,000 in the June 2004 year. Similarly, the current fertility rate for women under 20 years (27 per 1,000) is roughly one-third of the rate in 1972 (69 per 1,000).

Deaths registered in the June 2004 year totalled 28,140, compared with 27,760 in the June 2003 year. The abridged life table for the New Zealand population for 2001–2003 indicates that a newborn girl can expect to live, on average, 81.2 years, and a newborn boy 76.7 years. These represent gains of 1.5 years for females and 2.3 years for males since 1995–1997. The natural increase of population (the excess of births over deaths) was 29,750 in the June 2004 year, up 2,570 (9.5 percent) on the year ended June 2003 (27,180). Over the same period, the rate of natural increase rose from 6.8 per 1,000 to 7.4 per 1,000. Natural increase accounted for 58 percent of the population growth during the June 2004 year, and net migration the remaining 42 percent.

Brian Pink

Government Statistician

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