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Teenage Fertility Decline Continues

Births and Deaths: March 2002 quarter

2 May 2002

Teenage Fertility Decline Continues The fertility rate for teenagers dropped by 2.6 percent during the March 2002 year to a new low of 27 per 1,000, Statistics New Zealand reported today. It is now about one-fifth lower than the rate in 1992 (35 per 1,000) and well below half the high of 69 per 1,000 in 1972.

The fertility rates for women aged 20 to 34 years also fell during the last 12 months. The age group 20 to 24 years recorded the largest drop ? down 4.5 percent to 75 per 1,000.

In New Zealand, as in other developed nations, older motherhood remains the preferred reproductive norm. With a fertility rate of 113 births per 1,000 women, 30 to 34 years is the most common age group for childbearing, followed closely by the 25 to 29 year age group (112 per 1,000). This represents a major departure from the early 1970s, when early marriage and early childbearing were the norm. The average age of New Zealand women giving birth is now 29.5 years, which suggests that new mothers are on average four years older than their counterparts in the early 1970s.

About 54,700 live births were registered in New Zealand in the March 2002 year, 1,900 or 3 percent fewer than in 2001 (56,600). This latest figure continues the downturn evident since the peak of 60,300 in 1992. This drop is largely due to a decrease in the number of women in their twenties and partly because fewer of these women are having children.

Birth rates for the latest March year suggest that New Zealand women average 1.97 births per woman. This is about 6 percent below the level (2.10 births per woman) required for the population to replace itself, without migration. However, our fertility rate is at least 10 percent higher than the fertility rate for Australia, Canada, England and Wales, France and Sweden.

Deaths registered in the March 2002 year totalled 28,100, up 6 percent on the March 2001 year (26,500). According to the provisional abridged life tables for 1998?2000, a newborn girl can expect to live on average 80.8 years, and a newborn boy 75.7 years.

With fewer births and more deaths, the natural increase of population (the excess of births over deaths) contracted by 3,400, from 30,000 in the March 2001 year to 26,600 in the March 2002 year. Over the same period, the rate of natural increase fell further from 7.8 per 1,000 mean population to 6.9 per 1,000; it was 9.7 per 1,000 in 1992. Natural increase accounted for 51 percent of the growth in the population during the March 2002 year, with net migration accounting for 49 percent.

Brian Pink Government Statistician


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