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Birth Rates for Older Women Continue to Rise

Birth Rates for Older Women Continue to Rise

Birth rates for New Zealand women aged 30 years and over have increased over the last decade, Statistics New Zealand reported today. In the March 2005 year, women aged 30–34 years had the highest fertility rate (119 births per 1,000 women), up from 106 births per 1,000 in 1995.

In contrast, the fertility rate for women aged under 30 has dropped. The largest fertility decrease occurred among women aged 20–24 years; down 17 percent, from 84 per 1,000 in 1995 to 70 per 1,000 in 2005.

The median age (half are younger, and half older, than this age) of New Zealand women giving birth is now 30 years, compared with 28 years in 1995, and 25 years in 1975. The median age of women giving birth to their first child was 28 years in the year ended March 2005.

Annual birth rates for the March 2005 year suggest that New Zealand women average 2.0 births per woman. This is below the level required for a population to replace itself without migration (2.1 births per woman). Sub-replacement fertility is common among developed countries, including France (1.9 births per woman), Australia (1.8), the Netherlands, England and Wales, and Sweden (all 1.7). Some countries, notably Italy and Spain, have recorded very low fertility levels in recent years (fewer than 1.3 births per woman). The United States' total fertility rate has been similar to New Zealand's in recent years.

There were 57,630 live births registered in New Zealand in the March 2005 year, 1.8 percent higher than the annual average over the last decade (56,630). During the March 2005 year, births of 29,600 boys and 28,030 girls were registered.

Deaths registered in the March 2005 year totalled 28,240, compared with 28,200 in the March 2004 year. The New Zealand abridged life table for 2001–2003 indicates that a newborn girl can expect to live, on average, 81.2 years, and a newborn boy 76.7 years. These represent gains of 1.5 years for females and 2.3 years for males since 1995–1997.

The infant (under one year of age) mortality rate has dropped over the last decade, from 7.3 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1995 to 5.8 per 1,000 in the March 2005 year.

The natural increase of population (excess of births over deaths) was 29,380 in the March 2005 year, up 710 (2.5 percent) on the year ended March 2004. Natural increase accounted for 74 percent of the population growth during the March 2005 year, and net migration the remaining 26 percent.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician

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