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'Empty Nesters' a Growing Part of the Flock

'Empty Nesters' a Growing Part of the Flock

8 December 2017 - Couples living without children will make up more than half the 433,000 extra families projected to be in New Zealand by 2038, Stats NZ said today. This family type, which includes couples without or yet to have children, and those whose children have left home, will drive the increase in most areas.

Where the number of families is projected to decrease, this will be mainly driven by fewer one- and two-parent families.

New Zealand will have 1.7 million families in 2038 under the mid-range projection.

Updated subnational family and household projections released today indicate future changes in the number and composition of families and households in New Zealand. Couples, and children living with one or more parents, are examples of ‘family’.

Most areas will have more families in 2038 than in 2013 – growth driven by more families that don’t usually have children living with them.

"While growth in the number of families reflects our growing population, the changing composition of families is driven by our ageing population. Many more people will be in the age where their children have left the family home. These are the so-called ‘empty nesters’," population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said.

Couple-without-children families are currently the most-common family type in most areas; they are expected to continue to make up the largest proportion of families in almost all areas by 2038.

Auckland is the exception to this trend. Here two-parent families are expected to remain the most-common broad family type.

"We project that 40 percent of births in New Zealand will be in Auckland up to 2038, and the region will also receive the lion's share of the country's growth from net migration," Mr Dolan said. "These factors both contribute to growth in the number of families with children."

However, there is considerable variation within Auckland. The region will continue to be affected by an ageing population, and the number of couple-without-children families is projected to increase by 64 percent over the 25-year period. The average family size in 2038 ranges from 2.3 in Waitemata, to 3.0 in Mangere-Otahuhu.

Note: Subnational family and household projections are produced for New Zealand's 16 regional council areas (regions), 67 territorial authority areas, and 21 Auckland local board areas.


For more information about these statistics:

Subnational family and household projections: 2013(base)–2038 update

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