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Population

Sparsely populated

New Zealand is a relatively sparsely populated country by OECD standards. Its 2003 population of 4.0 million exceeded only those of Luxembourg and Iceland. Among other OECD countries, only the Scandinavian nations of Norway, Finland and Denmark, and Ireland are of comparable population size.

 Population density

(inhabitants per km2), 2003

   Rate
 OECD  33
 New Zealand  15

Declining fertility

Fertility is one of the main components of population change. In most OECD countries, including New Zealand, fertility levels have declined over recent decades and are now below replacement levels.

New Zealand’s total fertility rate in 2003 was just under two births per woman, compared with over three births per woman 30 years earlier. Despite this fall, New Zealand’s rate in 2003 was the fifth-highest in the OECD, just above Iceland and behind only Mexico, Turkey, the United States and Ireland.

 

Total fertility rate

(average births per woman over reproductive life)

  Percent
 OECD 1.95
 New Zealand 1.63

Population density low

However, in terms of land area, New Zealand ranks fifteenth among the 30 OECD countries, with an area of 271,000 square kilometres.

Consequently, its population density is relatively low, at 15 people per square kilometre – less than half the OECD average and higher than only Australia, Iceland, Canada and Norway. Its population density is five times greater than its neighbour Australia, but considerably less than the United Kingdom, a country of similar land area which has 243 people per square kilometre.

 

Population and area

Population (million) and Area (000km2) 

  1993 2003 Area
 OECD  35.6 38.4 1,160
 New Zealand  3.6 4.0 271
 
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