National demographic indicators seriesNew Zealand

National Demographic Indicators Series

New Zealand population trends

New Zealand’s population growth tends to vary greatly from year to year, depending primarily on the migration rate. Currently the nation is experiencing an influx of overseas arrivals, particularly from the UK, India, China and the Pacific Islands. Adding to this trend is a significant reduction in out-migration to Australia, typically the main drain of population from New Zealand. In 2013 this was half the level of the year before. These trends are combining with an increase in the birth rate and more families with children, to produce a higher rate of population growth than seen for many years in New Zealand.

The 7 year gap between Census periods due to the Christchurch earthquake makes analysis a little more difficult than the regular 5-yearly Censuses before them. Nevertheless there are some clear trends.

The 2013 Census shows significant growth in 0-4 year olds, which had been flat since the mid-80s “echo baby boom”. Corresponding increases in people in their late 20s and 30s, of childbearing age, are also seen, and this means that the ageing of the population overall is not as significant as that seen in previous Censuses. However the median age did increase from 35.9 to 38.0 in 7 years, and like most western countries, New Zealand needs to prepare for a significantly larger elderly population, as the Post WWII baby boomers are well and truly entering their retirement years and will reach the elderly cohorts within the next decade.

Social trends have also seen significant change between the 2006 and 2011 Census. New Zealand has become substantially less religious, with less than 50% of the population now reporting a Christian religion, and “No Religion” increasing to 38.6% of all persons, one of the highest rates in the world. Increasing house prices are driving a national trend towards renting, and every TA recorded a percentage increase in renters relative to other tenure types.

These trends are not consistent across the nation, however, and Auckland in particular shows many different trends to other parts of the country. For instance, nationally, average household size declined by 0.03 persons per household, while Auckland had an increase by 0.06, and two thirds of the increase in overseas-born population happened in Greater Auckland.

The national demographic indicators page can help users understand these trends, and particularly the spatial distribution of these changing characteristics across New Zealand.

We write regular commentary about population matters in the .id blog.