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Fewer Babies Being Born

Births and Deaths: March 2001 quarter

The number of live births registered in New Zealand in the March 2001 year totalled 56,532. This is about 1,400 or 2 per cent fewer than the 57,928 live births registered in 2000. The latest figure is also about 6 per cent below the peak level of 60,331 recorded nearly a decade earlier in 1992, Deputy Government Statistician Dianne Macaskill said today.

The birth rates for the March 2001 year suggest that New Zealand women now average 2.01 births per woman, which is about 4 per cent below the level required for the population to replace itself without migration (2.10 births per woman). In 17 out of the last 21 years, New Zealand's fertility rate has been below the replacement level. However, it is at least 10 per cent higher than the fertility rate for Australia, Canada, England and Wales, France, Japan, the Netherlands and Sweden, and just below the rate for the United States.

The trend towards later motherhood is continuing. The 30-34 year age group with a fertility rate of 116 per 1,000 has emerged as the prime age group for childbearing, followed closely by the 25-29 year age group (115 per 1,000). Three decades ago, in the early 1970s, early childbearing was the norm and women aged 20-24 had the highest fertility rate (201 per 1,000). On average, New Zealand women are having children about four years later than their counterparts a quarter of a century ago. The average age of New Zealand women giving birth is now 29.4 years, compared with 25.4 years in 1975.

Deaths registered in the March 2001 year totalled 26,548, down 5.0 per cent on the March 2000 year (27,955). Births exceeded deaths (called the natural increase of population) by 29,984 in 2001, compared with 29,973 in 2000 and 33,727 in 1992. New Zealanders continue to live longer. Latest abridged life tables for the New Zealand population indicate that a newborn baby boy can now expect to live 75.7 years and a newborn girl 80.8 years.

Dianne Macaskill DEPUTY GOVERNMENT STATISTICIAN
END


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