National Population Estimates: September 2008 quarter


Estimated resident population at 30 September 2008

The estimated resident population of New Zealand was 4,280,000 at 30 September 2008. The estimated resident populations for males and females were 2,097,900 and 2,182,000, respectively. At 30 September 2008, there were around 96 males for every 100 females.

Graph, Estimated Resident Population. Graph, Annual Population Change.

Annual population change

In the September 2008 year, the estimated resident population grew by 40,100 (0.9 percent), compared with 43,300 (1.0 percent) in the previous September year. The population growth in the September 2008 year was lower than the average annual increase of 45,900 (1.1 percent) recorded during the 10-year period ended 30 September 2008.

The population growth for the September 2008 year resulted from a natural increase (excess of births over deaths) of 35,700 and a net permanent and long-term migration gain of 4,400. The level of natural increase was the highest for a September year since 1972. In contrast, the level of net permanent and long-term migration was the lowest for a September year since 2001.

Quarterly population change

During the September 2008 quarter, New Zealand's estimated resident population grew by 11,100 (0.3 percent). This growth resulted from a natural increase of 8,200 and a net permanent and long-term migration gain of 2,900. In comparison, both natural increase (8,400) and net migration (3,200) were slightly higher in the September 2007 quarter, resulting in quarterly population growth of 11,600 (0.3 percent).

Median age

New Zealand, along with other OECD countries, has an ageing population because of low fertility and low mortality. At 30 September 2008, half of the New Zealand population was over the age of 36.4 years, compared with a median age of 33.7 years a decade earlier.

The median age for males is now 35.4 years, while for females it is 37.2 years. Over the past decade, the median age has increased 2.5 years for males and 2.8 years for females. The lower median age for males reflects their lower life expectancy of 78.0 years, compared with 82.2 years for females (Complete period life tables 2005–07).

 Graph, Median Age by Sex.  Graph, Population Change by Age Group.

Changes in age composition

The age composition of New Zealand's population has changed over the past decade. Between the 1998 and 2004 September years, the number of children (aged 0–14 years) increased 16,000 (1.8 percent) to reach a high of 892,800. The number of children then fell to 887,900 at 30 September 2006, before increasing to 889,900 at 30 September 2008. The overall population increase for children for the decade ended September 2008 was 13,000 (1.5 percent). At 30 September 2008, children accounted for 20.8 percent of the New Zealand population, compared with 22.9 percent at 30 September 1998.

At 30 September 2008, the population aged 15–64 years reached 2,849,200, an increase of 27,600 (1.0 percent) compared with the September 2007 figure. In the 10 years ended September 2008, this age group increased by 348,300 (13.9 percent). However, growth rates for age groups within this broad category varied, with the population aged 45–64 years recording a larger percentage increase (33.1 percent) than the 15–29-year age group (9.7 percent) and the 30–44-year age group (0.7 percent).

During the September 2008 year, the population aged 65 years and over (65+) increased by 11,300 (2.1 percent). Between the 1998 and 2008 September years, their number increased by 97,700 (22.1 percent) to reach 540,900. The proportion of the population aged 65+ increased to 12.6 percent at 30 September 2008, up from 11.6 percent 10 years earlier.

Among age groups within the 65+ category, the population growth rate was consistently higher for males than for females between the 1998 and 2008 September years. Males and females aged 90 years and over had the largest growth rate during this decade. The male population aged 90 years and over increased 72.8 percent to reach 5,600 in the ten years ended September 2008, and the female population in the same age group increased 50.3 percent to reach 14,700.

Trends in the population aged 85 years and over, 1978–2008

During the 30-year period ended September 2008, New Zealand's population aged 85 years and over (85+) has more than trebled, increasing from 18,500 in September 1978 to 63,900 in September 2008. As a result of this relatively rapid growth, the proportion of New Zealand's population aged 85+ has increased. At 30 September 1978, 1 out of every 169 New Zealanders was aged 85+. However, 30 years later, the 85+ population accounted for 1 out of every 67 New Zealanders.

A notable feature of the 85+ population is that females outnumber males by a significant margin. The female 85+ population exceeded the male 85+ population by 8,100 in September 1978, and by 21,900 in September 2008. Of the 85+ population at 30 September 2008, there were 49 males per 100 females, up from a 1978 sex ratio of 39 males per 100 females. The increasing proportion of males over this period is because male longevity has increased more than female longevity. (Complete period life tables 2005–07).

Graph, Population age 85 and Over by Sex.

Population Clock

Statistics NZ's online Population Clock gives a real-time approximation of the estimated resident population of New Zealand. The Population Clock uses the latest quarterly estimated resident population, and estimates for the expected number of births, deaths and net migration during the following quarter. The settings for each component (births, deaths and net migration) are derived by converting the quarterly estimated totals into a 'per minute' figure, making allowance for the number of days per quarter. The Population Clock can be viewed on the Statistics NZ website:

Different population concepts

Users of population statistics need to be aware that there are three main population measures produced by Statistics NZ: the census night population count, the census usually resident population count and the estimated resident population. The population counts published from the census are not comparable with the estimated resident population. The estimated resident population includes adjustments for net census undercount and for New Zealand residents temporarily overseas on census night. For more information see the technical notes of this release.

Final figures

The population estimates for the September 2008 year quoted above, and contained in the appended tables, are provisional. Processing of final statistics will be completed in February 2009.

For technical information contact:
Joel Watkins or Alan Ambury
Christchurch 03 964 8700

Next release ...

National Population Estimates: December 2008 quarter will be released on 13 February 2009.