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New Zealand's Population Reaches 3.9 Million

National Population Estimates: March 2002 quarter
26 April 2002

New Zealand's estimated resident population at 31 March 2002 was 3,898,600, according to the latest population estimates released by Statistics New Zealand. This represents an increase of 52,500 or 1.4 percent over the 31 March 2001 figure.

The increase in the March 2002 year was more than triple the increase in the previous year (16,400), due largely to a significant turnaround in the external migration balance, from a net outflow to a net inflow of permanent and long-term migrants. Arrivals exceeded departures by 25,600 during the March 2002 year, compared with a net outflow of 12,600 in the March 2001 year. Over this period, the contribution of natural increase (excess of births over deaths) to population growth contracted further. Births outnumbered deaths by 26,800 during the March 2002 year, compared with 29,000 in 2001, a drop of 2,200 or 7.6 percent.

The estimated increase in the resident population during the March 2002 quarter was 17,200 or 0.4 percent. This resulted from a natural increase of 6,600, and a net inflow of 10,600 through permanent and long-term migration. The corresponding population increases for the March quarters of 2001 and 2000 were much lower at 3,000 and 4,000 respectively. The larger population gain in the March 2002 quarter was due mainly to a turnaround in the migration balance. In the March quarters of 2001 and 2000 there were net population outflows of 5,300 and 4,000 respectively.

Population ageing is continuing. Half of New Zealanders are now over 34.7 years of age, compared with a median age of 31.6 years in 1992. Children under 15 years numbered 878,600 at 31 March 2002 and made up 22.5 percent of all New Zealanders, down from 23.1 percent in 1992. People aged 65 years and over totalled 462,800 and made up 11.9 percent of all New Zealanders, up from 11.3 percent in 1992. The working age population (aged 15 to 64 years) numbered 2,557,200 and accounted for 65.6 percent of all New Zealanders in both 2002 and 1992. The movement of the 'baby boomers' into the older working ages means that the labour force is taking on an older profile. The number of New Zealanders aged 45 to 64 years increased by 31 percent between 1992 and 2002, from 663,100 to 870,500.

The population estimates contained in this release were obtained by updating the 1996-base resident population (adjusted for census undercount and for residents temporarily overseas) for births, deaths and external migration occurring between 5 March 1996 and 31 March 2002. Final census night population counts and census usually resident population counts from the 2001 Census of Population and Dwellings (held 6 March) were released on 17 December 2001. These census counts are not comparable with the estimated resident population. Estimates of the resident population include adjustments for net census undercount and for New Zealanders temporarily overseas on census night, whereas census counts do not include these components of the resident population.

Brian Pink Government Statistician

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