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Population overview

65+ age group has nearly doubled since 1981

New Zealand had 607,032 usual residents aged 65 years and over (65+) in at the time of the 2013 Census. This age group has increased 22.5 percent since 2006, when it included 495,603 people, and nearly doubled since 1981, when it included 309,795 people.

By 2038, 25 years on from the 2013 Census, the number of people aged 65+ is projected to more than double, to reach 1,285,800. In 50 years, the projected number will reach 1,618,700.

The proportion of the overall usually resident population that is aged 65+ is also increasing. In 1981 this age group made up 9.9 percent of the population, and in 2013 it was 14.3 percent. It is projected to be just over one-quarter (26.7 percent) of the population in 2063.

As the proportion of people aged 65+ increases, the proportion of people in the younger age groups decreases. The proportion of people aged under 15 years:

  • was 26.9 percent in 1981
  • was 20.4 percent in 2013
  • is projected to decrease to 15.9 percent in 2063.

Those aged 15–64 years made up 63.2 percent of the population in 1981. This age group increased slightly to 65.3 percent in 2013, but is projected to decrease to 57.5 percent in 2063.

Even though the proportions are changing for these three age groups, the number of people in each group is increasing.

Figure 1

Graph, Population aged 65 years and over, 1981 to 2068.

In 2013, within the 65+ age group:

  • 57.0 percent of people were aged 65–74 years – up from 53.6 percent in 2006
  • 30.9 percent of people were aged 75–84 years – down from 35.0 percent in 2006
  • 12.1 percent of people were aged 85 years and over – up from 11.4 percent in 2006.

Proportion of 85s and over projected to nearly double by 2063

Population projections indicate that by 2063 there will be 378,800 people aged 85 years and over (85+) – which will be 23.4 percent of the 65+ age group. This is nearly double the proportion in 2013. This, along with the increase in the proportion of people aged 75–84 years to 32.8 percent for the same time period, shows the population is ageing within the 65+ age group.

While the number of people aged 65–74 years will increase, the age group is projected to decrease as a proportion of the 65+ age group – to 43.8 percent in 2063.

Estimates and projections has more information on population projections.

Over half of all people aged 65+ are women

In 2013, over half of all people in the 65+ age group were women. Women made up 54.1 percent of this age group, and men 45.9 percent.

Within the 65+ age group, the percentage of women increases as age increases. Of people aged:

  • 65–74 years, 51.6 percent were women
  • 75–84 years, 54.6 percent were women
  • 85+ years, 64.3 percent were women.

New Zealand female life expectancy still longer than male

The greater proportion of females than males in the older ages reflects differences in life expectancy. The average New Zealand female can expect to live longer than the average New Zealand male. While the life expectancy of both sexes is increasing, male life expectancy is increasing more quickly.

For the 2012–14 period, a newborn female could expect to live to 83.2 years and a newborn male 79.5 years – a difference of 3.7 years. In comparison, females born in the 1980–82 period could expect to live to 76.4 years and males 70.4 years – a difference of 6.0 years.

In the 2012–14 period, the average 65-year-old woman could expect to live another 21.3 years, and the average 65-year-old man another 18.9 years.

Life expectancy has more information.

Most 65s and over are living with a partner

Nearly two-thirds of people (62.1 percent) aged 65+ were living with a partner (ie spouse, de facto, or not further defined) in 2013. The proportion of people partnered decreases as age increases. Of people aged:

  • 65–74 years, 71.4 percent were partnered
  • 75–84 years, 56.0 percent were partnered
  • 85+ years, 29.4 percent were partnered.

Just over one-third of people aged 65+ were non-partnered. Those who were 'non-partnered – widowed or surviving civil union partner' made up 21.9 percent of the 65+ age group – the largest proportion of all non-partnered people in this age group. This was followed by those who were non-partnered and divorced, at 7.5 percent. Only 3.6 percent were 'non-partnered – never married and never in a civil union’.

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