Ethnic population projections: issues and trends - article

Note: The population projections presented in this article have been superseded by more recent population projections. For the latest projections, go to Population Projections.

Key Statistics - article, June 2004, p. 9-14

The ethnic mosaic of New Zealand’s population is changing, with the Māori, Pacific and Asian ethnic groups making up a growing proportion of the population. This article describes some of the issues in projecting ethnic populations as well as selected results from Statistics New Zealand’s latest ethnic population projections.

Ethnic Population Projections: Issues and Trends1

Introduction

Ethnic population projections are produced to assist local communities, as well as central government, in planning and policy-making. The projections provide information on the changing characteristics and distribution of the population, which are used to develop social policies in areas such as health and education. For example, where different ethnic groups experience different health conditions, ethnic population projections can help identify likely future service needs.

This article describes some of the issues in projecting ethnic populations as well as selected results from Statistics New Zealand’s latest ethnic population projections.

Projections have been produced for four broad ethnic groups – the European, Māori, Pacific and Asian populations – at both the national and subnational levels. For each ethnicity, eleven alternative series have been produced at the national level and three alternative series at the subnational level, using different combinations of fertility, mortality, net migration and inter-ethnic mobility. The projections provide an indication of possible future changes in the size, growth rate and age-sex structure of each population.

The latest projections have the estimated resident population of each ethnicity at 30 June 2001 as a base. Each base population was derived from the census usually resident population count at 6 March 2001 and adjusted for non-response to the census ethnicity question, net census undercount and residents temporarily overseas on census night. Because of these adjustments, the estimated resident population is not directly comparable with census counts.

The national projections cover the 20-year period to 2021, by single year of age and sex, at one-year intervals. The subnational projections cover the 15-year period to 2016, by five-year age group and sex, at five-year intervals.

Ethnic concept

The ethnic concept used in these projections is the ethnic group or groups that people identify with or feel they belong to. Ethnicity is self-perceived. For example, people may identify with the Māori ethnicity even though they may not be descended from a Māori ancestor. Conversely, people may choose to not identify with the Māori ethnicity even though they are descended from a Māori ancestor. Ethnicity does not equate to a birthplace description.

People can and do belong to more than one ethnic group. For example, at the 2001 Census of Population and Dwellings, 526,281 people identified with the Māori ethnicity. Of these people, 212,889 (or 40 percent) also identified with a European ethnicity. Similarly, of the 231,798 people who identified with a Pacific ethnicity, 31,548 (or 14 percent) also identified with the Māori ethnicity. People who identify with more than one ethnicity have been included in each ethnic population. Therefore these ethnic projections are not mutually exclusive.

Projection issues

Projections of ethnic populations are more uncertain than projections of the total population for several reasons.

Ethnic identification can change over time (referred to as inter-ethnic mobility). This may occur when different people respond to the ethnicity question for one person. For example, the ethnicity of babies and young children is usually identified by their parents. However, in a later census when these children are old enough to complete their own forms, they will decide for themselves which ethnicity they identify with. This may differ from the ethnicity identified by their parents. Inter-ethnic mobility can also occur when different ethnicities are reported in different collections (eg birth registration form, death registration form, census form) for one person.

There are difficulties in establishing past trends in fertility, mortality and migration. Different ethnicities can be reported in different collections, which makes the derivation of ethnic-specific fertility and mortality rates problematic. Furthermore, the measurement of ethnicity has changed over time in many collections, while it is not captured at all in some collections (eg external migration data).

Ethnic populations are not mutually exclusive because people can and do identify with more than one ethnicity. People are not asked to prioritise their ethnic responses in any data collections. Hence, Statistics New Zealand includes people in each of their reported ethnic groups. Added to this, a child born to parents of different ethnicity may be considered by the parents to belong to one or more of their ethnicities, or indeed to another ethnicity.

There is also greater future uncertainty about the components of population change. For example, will the fertility and mortality of different ethnicities converge, and if so, at what pace? Assumptions about future migration, notably for people of Asian and Pacific ethnicities, are particularly susceptible to changes in immigration policy.

Statistics New Zealand incorporates these issues into its methodology and develops alternative projection scenarios to illustrate uncertainty. However, because of these issues Statistics New Zealand does not currently attempt to project the population of ethnicities other than the four broad groups described here. (At 30 June 2001 there were an estimated 22,000 New Zealanders who did not identify with any of the four broad ethnic groups.)

National population trends

The following analysis is based on series 6 of the respective national ethnic population projections and series 4 of the national population projections. At the time of release, these ‘middle’ series are considered the most suitable for assessing future population change.

All four ethnic populations are projected to experience growth between 2001 and 2021 (Figure 1). The Asian population is projected to have the largest percentage growth, up about 120 percent to 600,000 in 2021. The Pacific and Māori populations will experience increases of 58 percent and 28 percent, respectively. The Māori population will then number about 750,000 in 2021. The European population will increase until 2010 before slowly decreasing. By 2021, the European population will be 1 percent greater than in 2001 at about 3.1 million.

Graph, Projected Ethnic Populations.

The higher Asian growth rate mainly reflects the assumed levels of net migration, from 119,000 over the five years 2002–2006, to 30,000 over the five years 2017–2021 (Figure 2). In 2002–2006, net migration is projected to be five times the natural increase (births minus deaths), but by 2021 they are roughly equal. As a result, the annual growth rate of the Asian population will fall from 13 percent in 2002 to under 2 percent in 2021.

Graph, Components of Population Change.

In contrast, the higher Māori and Pacific growth relative to the New Zealand population overall is mainly driven by births. This can be attributed to three main factors. Firstly, Māori and Pacific women have higher fertility rates, averaging about 2.6 and 2.9 births per woman, respectively, in 2000–2002. This compares with total fertility rates of about 1.7 and 1.8 for Asian and European women, respectively. The total fertility rate is the average number of live births that a woman would have during her life, if she experienced the age-specific fertility rates of a given period.

Secondly, for births to parents of different ethnicity, the ethnicity of the child may reflect that of one or both parents, or indeed of neither parent. Almost one-quarter of Māori births are contributed by non-Māori women where the father is Māori. A similar proportion applies to Pacific births, while the Asian and European proportions are about one-tenth and one-fifteenth, respectively.

Thirdly, the Māori and Pacific populations have a younger age structure with a relatively large proportion in the main reproductive ages (15–44 years). This provides a built-in momentum for future growth.

Population ageing

All populations will age between 2001 and 2021. The median age (half of the population is younger, and half older, than this age) of the Pacific population is projected to increase by two and a half years, the Māori population by four and a half years, and the Asian and European populations by seven and a half years. In comparison, the median age of the New Zealand population is projected to increase by five years over the same period (Table 1).

Table, Projected Age Distribution of Ethnic Populations.

Ethnic shares

The ethnic projections show that New Zealand will have greater ethnic diversity in the future. In 2001, 15 percent of the New Zealand population identified with the Māori ethnicity – this is projected to increase to 17 percent in 2021 (Table 2). The Pacific share is projected to increase from 7 to 9 percent, and the Asian share from 7 to 13 percent. In contrast, the European share of the New Zealand population is projected to decrease from 79 percent in 2001 to 69 percent in 2021. The decline in the European share reflects the slower growth rate of the European population, compared with the national growth rate.

Table, Ethnic Share of New Zealand Population.

Table 2 also shows the effect of multiple ethnicity. The ethnic shares sum to more than 100 percent because people can and do identify with more than one ethnicity. Furthermore, multiple ethnicity is inversely related to age. For example, 21 percent of births registered in 2001–2003 identified with more than one ethnic group. In contrast, just 1 percent of the population aged 65 years and over in 2001 identified with more than one ethnic group.

Regional councils

According to the ‘medium’ projection series, the Māori, Pacific and Asian populations in all 16 regions are projected to increase during 2001–2016, while the European population is projected to increase in 9 of 16 regions over the same time. However, growth rates will vary between areas.

The projections indicate an increasing concentration of European, Māori, Pacific and Asian populations in the northern North Island. The combined regions of Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty comprised 51 percent of New Zealand’s population in 2001. This is projected to increase to 55 percent by 2016. Over the same period, these four regions are projected to increase their share of the European population from 46 to 48 percent, Māori population from 58 to 59 percent, Asian population from 72 to 77 percent and Pacific population from 75 to 76 percent.

Auckland Region is projected to have the largest numerical increase of ā (up 37,000, from 144,000 to 181,000); Asian (up 213,000, from 175,000 to 388,000); and Pacific people (up 77,000, from 176,000 to 253,000). Bay of Plenty Region will have the largest increase of European people (up 28,000, from 191,000 to 219,000).

All regions are projected to have greater ethnic diversity in the future. The European share in Auckland Region is projected to decline from 67 percent in 2001 to 54 percent by 2016. In contrast, the Asian share in Auckland is projected to increase from 14 percent to 25 percent over the same time. Gisborne is projected to have roughly equal shares of European and Māori by 2016. Its Māori share is projected to increase from 47 percent in 2001 to 54 percent in 2016, and its European share drop from 62 percent in 2001 to 55 percent in 2016. The ethnic shares for an area may sum to more than 100 percent because people can and do identify with more than one ethnicity.

Territorial authorities

Among territorial authorities (cities and districts), there is considerable variation likely in total population growth rates, largely because of differences in age structures, fertility levels and migration patterns. Moreover, growth rates are projected to vary over the projection period and within areas. Half of New Zealand’s 74 territorial authorities are likely to have fewer residents in 2016 than in 2001. At the same time, the Māori, Pacific and Asian populations are projected to increase in almost all cities and districts. The faster growth of the Māori, Pacific and Asian populations will increase the ethnic diversity of most areas of New Zealand.

Manukau City is projected to have the largest numerical increase in Māori population, up 13,000, from 50,000 to 63,000; and Pacific population, up 41,000, from 82,000 to 124,000. The largest increase in Asian population will occur in Auckland City with an increase of 94,000; from 77,000 in 2001 to 171,000 by 2016. Rodney District is projected to have the largest numerical increase in European population during 2001–2016; up 25,000, from 74,000 in 2001 to 99,000 in 2016.

Tauranga District is projected to have the largest percentage increase in Māori population, up 53 percent (Figure 3). Hamilton City will have the largest percentage increase in Pacific population (up 69 percent), while Waitakere City (up 135 percent) and Queenstown-Lakes District (up 48 percent) will have the largest percentage growth for Asian and European, respectively.

Graph, Projected Māori Population Growth Rate.

The Māori share is projected to increase in all territorial authorities except Manukau City which drops from 17 to 16 percent. The Asian share is projected to increase in all territorial authorities. The Pacific share is projected to increase in all territorial authorities except Auckland City which drops from 14 to 13 percent.

In contrast, all territorial authorities are likely to have lower proportions of the population identifying with European ethnicities. Fourteen of the 20 districts in the South Island had 95 percent or more of their population identifying with a European ethnicity in 2001. Leading the way was Waimate District with 98 percent. Its European share is projected to drop to 97 percent in 2016.

The Māori, Asian and Pacific shares are generally higher among territorial authorities in the North Island. Kawerau District is projected to have the highest Māori share in 2016 at 71 percent, up from 61 percent in 2001; Porirua City the highest Pacific share in 2016 at 33 percent, up from 27 percent in 2001; and Auckland City the highest Asian share in 2016 at 34 percent, up from 20 percent in 2001.

Summary

The ethnic mosaic of New Zealand’s population is changing, with the Māori, Pacific and Asian ethnic groups making up a growing proportion of the population. This reflects past and likely future differentials in fertility, as well as the impact of growing miscegenation (inter-marriage) and changes in immigration policy. Also, the Māori, Pacific and Asian populations have a more youthful age structure and thus a greater built-in momentum for growth than the European population. Coupled with higher fertility for Māori and Pacific people, and the assumed net migration levels for Asian people, these ethnic groups are likely to grow at a much faster pace than their European counterparts.

All ethnic populations will age in the coming decades. However, even two decades on, the Māori and Pacific populations will still have a younger age structure than the current New Zealand population. These trends, evident at the national level, will also be mirrored at the subnational level to varying degrees.

Further information

For more information on the latest population projections refer here. For enquiries on demographic projections or quotes for ad hoc projections, email demography@stats.govt.nz or telephone 0508 525 525.

References

Office for National Statistics (2002). “Population projections by ethnic group: a feasibility study”, London. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/products/p9263.asp [17 May 2004].

Statistics New Zealand (2002). “National Population Projections (2001(base)-2051)”, Hot Off The Press. [published 24 October 2002].

Statistics New Zealand (2003). “Projections Overview”. [modified 12 December 2003].

Statistics New Zealand (2003). “Subnational Ethnic Population Projections”. [modified 24 February 2004].

Statistics New Zealand (2003). “National European Population Projections (2001(base)-2021)”, Hot Off The Press. [published 25 June 2003].

Statistics New Zealand (2003). “National Māori Population Projections (2001(base)-2021)”, Hot Off The Press. [published 15 May 2003].

Statistics New Zealand (2003). “National Asian Population Projections (2001(base)-2021)”, Hot Off The Press. [published 10 June 2003].

Statistics New Zealand (2003). “National Pacific Population Projections (2001(base)-2021)”, Hot Off The Press. [published 29 May 2003].

Footnote

1 This article was prepared by Gillian Smeith and Kim Dunstan of the Demography Division of Statistics New Zealand.

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