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National Population Estimates: At 30 June 2013
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  14 August 2013
Commentary

This information release contains provisional estimates of the resident population of New Zealand at 30 June 2013. This release does not include any results from the 2013 Census of Population and Dwellings, which is still being processed. National population estimates give the best available measure of the size and age-sex structure of the population usually living in New Zealand.

Population growth remains below one percent

In the June 2013 year, the estimated resident population grew by 37,700 (0.9 percent) to reach 4,470,800. This follows an increase of 27,900 (0.6 percent) in the year to June 2012.

Population growth in the year to June 2013 was due to a natural increase (more births than deaths) of 29,800 and a net international migration gain of 7,900. Compared with the previous June year, natural increase has fallen by 1,300, while net international migration has increased by 11,100. The natural increase for the year to June 2013 was the lowest since 2005, mainly due to a decrease in the number of births.

Five years ago, New Zealand's estimated resident population was 4.3 million. Since then, the population has grown by about 200,000, which is approximately equivalent to the population of Wellington city. Our population is expected to continue growing. Latest national population projections (median projection) indicate that by 2031 there will be 5.2 million people in New Zealand.

Graph, Annual population change, 1993–2013. Graph, Median age, by sex, at 30 June, 1993–2013.  

Median age continues to rise

At 30 June 2013, half of New Zealand's population was over 37.1 years, compared with 32.0 years in June 1993. New Zealand's population is ageing, due to sustained low fertility and increasing life expectancy. Latest national population projections (median projection) indicate that by 2031 the median age of the New Zealand population could reach 39.9 years.

Over the last two decades, the median age has increased more for females (up 5.7 years) than for males (up 4.5 years). The median age is now 38.4 years for females and 35.8 years for males. The lower median age for males partly reflects their lower life expectancy. On average, males can expect to live 79.4 years, compared with 83.0 years for females (see New Zealand abridged period life table, 2010–12).

Growing numbers of people in the older age groups

The age structure of New Zealand’s population has changed considerably over the last two decades. At 30 June 2013: 

  • Children (aged 0–14 years) accounted for 20 percent (890,900) of the population, down from 23 percent in 1993.
  • The younger working-age population (aged 15–39 years) remained the largest group, accounting for 34 percent (1,505,000) of the population, down from 39 percent in 1993. Between 1993 and 2013, the population aged 15–39 years increased by only 7 percent.
  • The older working-age population (aged 40–64 years) made up 32 percent (1,439,700) of the population, up from 26 percent in 1993. Between 1993 and 2013, those aged 40–64 years increased by 54 percent. Over this period, the gap between those aged 40–64 and 15–39 years has narrowed substantially.
  • The population aged 65 years and over (aged 65+) accounted for 14 percent (635,200) of the population, up from 11 percent in 1993. 
The interactive population pyramid  for New Zealand is a graphical presentation of New Zealand's changing age-sex distribution over time.
Population by broad age group  Population share

Rapid growth in the 65+ age group

The number of people aged 65+ has more than doubled since the early 1980s to reach 635,200. The population aged 65+ now makes up 14 percent of the total population, compared with 10 percent in 1980, and will continue to grow over the next two decades. Latest national population projections (median projection) indicate that the number is likely to double again by 2040.

In the last two years, the population aged 65+ has increased by 48,200. In 2011, the baby boomers (those born from 1946 to 1965) started to enter the 65+ age group. As a result, the population aged 65–69 is now growing faster than all other five-year age groups.

In contrast, the number of children (those aged 0–14) in New Zealand has stayed relatively constant. In the 10-year period ending June 2013, the number of children has only increased slightly, from 890,000 to 890,900.  

Annual population change by broad age group

For more detailed data see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

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