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Introduction

This report consists of five chapters. Chapter 1 contains background information on period life tables, including discussion of changes in the measurement of ethnic deaths and population. Chapter 2 presents the main results on longevity and mortality trends at the national level for the Māori, non-Māori and total New Zealand populations. Chapter 3 outlines the methodology used for constructing the latest complete period life tables. Chapter 4 presents a summary of longevity and mortality trends for the total population of subnational areas (regional councils and territorial authorities). Chapter 5 outlines the methodology used for constructing the latest abridged period life tables and standardised death rates of subnational areas.

Complete period life tables for 2005–07 for the Māori, non-Māori and total populations are contained in appendix 1. Supplementary five-year age group life table measures for 2005–07 are provided in appendix 2. Cohort life expectancy, for birth cohorts 1876–1933, are included in appendix 3.

Life tables are one of the basic demographic tools for analysing mortality. They are a tabular, numerical representation of mortality and survivorship of a population at each age. Most life tables are based on current mortality rates, and such tables are called period, current, or cross-sectional life tables. Every five years, Statistics New Zealand produces complete period life tables, using average mortality rates for three successive years centred on a census year. Complete life tables present functions for each single-year of age.

In every non-census year, Statistics NZ produces abridged period life tables, using mortality rates for three successive years centred on a non-census year. These abridged life tables present functions for five-year age groups rather than for single years of age, although ages 0 and 1–4 years are identified separately.

Period life tables show the mortality experience of a hypothetical group of newborn babies, assuming that they experience the observed mortality rates of the given period throughout their lives. The derived life expectancies give an indication of the average longevity of the population but do not necessarily reflect the longevity of an individual. Although these tables are usually based on death rates from a real population during a particular period of time, they are a hypothetical model of mortality, as they do not describe the real mortality which characterises a cohort as it ages.

Cohort (or generation) life tables are based on the mortality experience of a particular cohort (for example, all people born in the year 1900). These tables require data over many years, theoretically until the death of the last survivor. Cohort life tables are currently available for each year of birth from 1876 to 2006. However, life expectancy is only available to the 1933 birth cohort because subsequent cohorts still contain significant number of survivors, so the life tables are only partly complete.

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