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Half of Births to Older Mothers

2 August 2002

Half of Births to Older Mothers

In the June 2002 year, half of all newborn babies in New Zealand had a mother aged 30 years or older, Statistics New Zealand reported today. A decade earlier, in the June 1992 year, just over a third (36 percent) of births were to mothers aged 30 years and over. This trend away from earlier childbearing is not unique to New Zealand. In other developed nations, older motherhood remains the preferred reproductive norm.

The median age (half are older than this age, and half younger) of New Zealand women giving birth is now 29.9 years, compared with 28.0 years in 1992 and 24.9 years in the early 1970s. About 54,000 live births were registered in New Zealand in the June 2002 year, 2,200 or 4 percent fewer than in 2001 (56,200). The latest figure is 6,400 less than the peak of 60,400 recorded a decade ago in 1992. This drop is largely due to a decrease in the number of women in prime childbearing ages and partly because fewer of these women are having children.

Deaths registered in the June 2002 year totalled 28,100, up 4 percent on the June 2001 year (26,900). 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 3,500, from 29,400 in the June 2001 year to 25,900 in the June 2002 year. Natural increase accounted for 44 percent of the population growth during the June 2002 year, with net migration accounting for 56 percent.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician

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