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Deaths to increasingly outnumber births

3 December 2007

Deaths to increasingly outnumber births

Deaths will outnumber births in 26 of the 73 territorial authority areas by 2031 according to projections released by Statistics New Zealand today. This compares with five areas in 2002–2006 and is based on the 'medium series' of the 2006-base subnational population projections. In most cities and districts, the number of births is expected to decrease in the long-run due to an assumed decrease in fertility rates.

By contrast, the number of deaths is expected to increase in all cities and districts, despite continued increases in life expectancy. This is because of the increasing number of people reaching older ages.

These trends will cause a slowing of population growth in all areas of New Zealand. The North Island's population is projected to be near 4 million by 2031, compared with 1.1 million in the South Island. This means that 86 percent of New Zealand's population growth over the next 25 years will occur in the North Island.

In 2031, 78 percent of New Zealand's population will reside in the North Island compared with 76 percent currently. The faster growth of the North Island is mainly due to higher birth rates and lower death rates than the South Island.

The Auckland region is projected to account for 62 percent of New Zealand's population growth between 2006 and 2031, increasing from 1.4 million to 1.9 million. Natural increase (births minus deaths) is expected to contribute about two-thirds of Auckland's growth and net migration the remaining one-third. The Auckland region would then be home to 38 percent of New Zealand's population in 2031 compared with 33 percent in 2006.

Of the 73 cities and districts, 40 are projected to have more people in 2031 than in 2006. However, population growth will slow over the projection period for all areas because of the contrasting trends between births and deaths.

The fastest growth between 2006 and 2031 is expected in Queenstown-Lakes District (up an average of 1.9 percent a year), Selwyn District (1.7 percent), Manukau City (1.7 percent), Rodney District (1.6 percent), Waimakariri District and Tauranga City (both 1.5 percent). All areas will have more older people in the future. As a result, half of New Zealand's population will be older than 41 years in 2031, compared with 36 years currently.

In 2031, the median age is projected to range from 35 years in Manukau City to 56 years in Waitaki District. A median age of 50 years or older is projected for 12 districts in 2031.

Geoff Bascand

Government Statistician 3 December 2007


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