News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Typical Lifespan A Decade Longer Than In Late 1940s

The median lifespan of people who passed away in 2019 was about 13 years longer than for those who died 70 years ago, Stats NZ said today.

“Even in the past 20 years, the median lifespans for both men and women have increased by a couple of years,” population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said.

In 2019, the median lifespans (or median age at death – half of the people who died are younger and half are older than this age) were:

  • 78 years for males, up from 75 in 1999 and 67 in 1949
  • 83 years for females, up from 81 in 1999 and 69 in 1949
  • 80.5 years for all people, up from 77 in 1999 and 68 in 1949.

Lifespan here is based on the median age at death, and is affected by different age compositions over time and between areas. This is different from mean lifespan calculated from

life tables

, which give an indication of

life expectancy

and allow for different age compositions between different populations.

For people who died between 2017 and 2019, the median lifespans for both males and females were slightly longer for those who died in the South Island compared with the North Island. South Island males had a median lifespan of 79 years, compared with 78 years for North Island males. Likewise, South Island females had a median lifespan of 84 years, compared with 83 years for North Island females.

Males and females who passed away in the Nelson region had the highest median lifespan (81 and 86 years, respectively). Other regions where both males and females had higher median lifespans than for all of New Zealand included Marlborough, Otago, Canterbury, Taranaki, and Wellington. Note that this is based on where the person lived when they died and does not necessarily reflect where they spent most of their life.

Regional differences reflect different population characteristics, including age and ethnic make-up, along with the collective experiences of people’s lives (such as smoking, diet, and environment). For example, 20 percent of Nelson’s population is aged 65 years and over (compared with 16 percent for New Zealand). Therefore, a higher proportion of deaths in Nelson will be to older people and proportionally fewer to younger people, increasing the median age at death.

Overall, 34,260 deaths were registered in 2019 in New Zealand, up from 33,225 in 2018.

“The number of people dying each year has gradually increased over time, despite generally increasing life expectancy, because of population growth and more people in older age groups,” Mr Islam said.

Life expectancy measures the number of years of life remaining, on average, at a particular age. Data from the

abridged period life tables

, also released today, shows that life expectancy at birth is 80.0 years for males, and 83.5 years for females.

There were 59,637 live births registered in New Zealand in 2019, up from 58,020 the previous year. These births combined with the 34,260 deaths, resulted in a natural increase in the population of 25,377 people, up from 24,795 in 2018.

Natural increase, combined with positive net migration, results in an increasing population for New Zealand.

National population estimates: At 31 December 2019 – Infoshare tables

has more information on population estimates and change.

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Charlotte Yates' Mansfield Project

Katherine Mansfield's vapid verses are of even less interest than her over-rated short stories, but Yates has risen to the challenge of producing a fascinating compilation album by a variety of musicians to accompany her poetry. More>>

Howard Davis: Dazed & Confused by Beats

Beats is both a coming-of-age tale and a romantic movie about endings, set to a nostalgic backdrop of the disappearing tail of the UK's illegal rave scene. More>>

Howard Davis: And The Oscar Goes To … Parasite

For its deliciously dark wit and genre-bending ingenuity, Bong Joon-ho's latest movie has just won four out of a potential six Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay and Director. Only ten foreign-language films have previously been nominated for Best Picture and none have won before. More>>

Howard Davis: 1917's 1,000 Yard Stare

Sam Mendes has created a terrible and barbarous trek, one that we appreciate all the more for being catapulted right into the midst of this ear-splitting melee from the film's opening sequence. More>>




  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland