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Birth rate rises

18 August 2008

Birth rate rises

The birth rate reached 2.2 births per woman in the June 2008 year, up from 2.1 in 2007, Statistics New Zealand said today. The last time this level of fertility was reached was in 1991. Despite the recent increase, the current birth rate is around half the peak of 4.3 births reached in 1961.

There were 64,140 live births (32,860 boys and 31,280 girls) registered in New Zealand in the June 2008 year, up 4.1 percent from 2007. This is the highest number of births since the June 1972 year when 64,510 live births were registered. The highest number of births registered in any June year was 66,110 in 1962. At that time New Zealand's population numbered just 2.5 million, compared with 4.3 million in 2008.

In the June 2008 year, women aged 30–34 years had the highest fertility rate (126 births per 1,000 women aged 30–34 years). Forty years ago, in 1968, women aged 20–24 years had the highest fertility rate (218 per 1,000), almost three times their 2008 rate (77 per 1,000).

On average, New Zealand women now have children about five years later than their counterparts in the mid-1960s. The median age (half are younger, and half older, than this age) of New Zealand women giving birth is now 30 years, compared with 25 years in 1968. The median age of women giving birth to their first child was 28 years in the year ended June 2008.

A newborn girl can expect to live 81.9 years, and a boy 77.9 years. Life tables for 2004–2006 show that the gap between female and male life expectancy has narrowed from 6.4 years in 1975–1977 to 4.1 years. Deaths registered in the June 2008 year totalled 28,690, up from 28,460 in 2007. Deaths are becoming increasingly concentrated in the older age groups. The median age at death in the June 2008 year was 77 years for males and 83 years for females, compared with 72 for males and 77 for females in 1988. Only 5.6 percent of the deceased were aged under 40 years in the June 2008 year, compared with 9.0 percent in 1988.

Births exceeded deaths by 35,460 in the June 2008 year. National population projections (2006-base) show that natural increase is likely to decline over the next 50 years. Deaths are projected to outnumber births from 2055.

Geoff Bascand

Government Statistician

18 August 2008


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