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Births and Deaths: Year ended September 2011
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  17 November 2011
Commentary

Live births down in the September 2011 year

There were 62,260 live births registered in New Zealand in the September 2011 year, down 1,470 (2 percent) from the September 2010 year.

Annual fluctuations in births, in part, reflect changes in the size and age of the population, the age at which women have children, and the number of children they have. In turn, the number of births influences the future size and age of the population. 

The highest number of births ever recorded in any September year was 65,660, in 1962. At that time, New Zealand's population was just 2.5 million, compared with 4.4 million in 2011.

Regional live births

The Auckland region had the highest number of births in the September 2011 year (22,910), accounting for 37 percent of all live births registered in New Zealand. This was followed by the Canterbury (6,900), Wellington (6,560), and Waikato (5,980) regions. Together, these four regions accounted for just over two-thirds of all live births registered in the September 2011 year, which is consistent with their share of New Zealand's population.

Fertility rates for regions are produced for the census years 1996, 2001, and 2006. You can find these rates on the Births page on the Statistics New Zealand website.

Women aged 30–34 years have the highest fertility rate

Age-specific fertility rates measure the number of live births 1,000 women in a particular age-group have in a given period (usually a year).

In the September 2011 year, women aged 30–34 years had the highest fertility rate (123 births per 1,000 women aged 30–34 years), followed by those aged 25–29 years (106 per 1,000) and 20–24 years (74 per 1,000).

Compared with the high fertility seen in the early 1960s, women in all age groups now have fewer babies. In 1962, women aged 20–24 years had the highest fertility rate (265 per 1,000), followed by those aged 25–29 years (259 per 1,000), and 30–34 years (152 per 1,000).

 Graph, Age-specific fertility rates, 1962-2011.

Fertility rates for women aged 40–44 years dropped from around 20 births per 1,000 in the early 1960s to around 4 per 1,000 in the mid-1980s, before increasing to 15 births per 1,000 in 2011. Among women aged 40–44 years who registered a baby in the September 2011 year, 43 percent were aged 40 years and 27 percent were aged 41 years.

Median age of mother

The median age (half are younger and half older than this age) of New Zealand women giving birth is now 30 years, compared with 26 years in the early 1960s. The median age dropped to just under 25 years in the early 1970s. Although there has been a significant increase in the median age since the 1970s, it has been relatively stable at around 30 years in the past decade.

While there has been a small decrease in the median age since the September 2005 year (down from 30.4 to 29.9 years), this does not necessarily indicate a reversal in the trend towards older childbearing, but reflects changes in age structure within the childbearing age group. The median age of women aged 15–39 years is now one year younger than in 2001. 

 Graph, Median age of mother, 1962-2011.

The median age of women giving birth to their first child (based on children in the current relationship only) was 28 years in the year ended September 2011. This has been relatively stable over the last decade.

Total fertility rate

The total fertility rate summarises the age-specific fertility rates into a single number indicator of fertility. It indicates, on average, the number of babies a woman would have in her lifetime if the age-specific fertility rates in a given period stayed the same throughout her life.

The total fertility rate for the September 2011 year was 2.09 births per woman – down from 2.15 in the September 2010 year. Annual fluctuations in the total fertility rate do not necessarily indicate changes in family size, but rather changes in the timing of births.

New Zealand's total fertility rate has been relatively stable over the last three decades, averaging 2.02 births per woman. During this period, the total fertility rate varied from 1.89 births per woman (in 2002) to 2.19 (in 1991 and 2008). In contrast, fertility rates increased dramatically from the mid-1940s, peaking at 4.31 births per woman in 1961. New Zealand then experienced decreasing fertility over the following 20 years.

 Graph, Total fertility rate, 1921-2011. 

Deaths number 29,710 in the September 2011 year

The number of deaths registered during the September 2011 year was 29,710, up 910 from 28,790 in 2010. The number of deaths is gradually increasing due to population growth in the older age groups, partly offset by longer life expectancy. Deaths increased from 20,330 in the September 1957 year to 25,070 in the September 1970 year – an increase of nearly 5,000 in 13 years. Deaths increased at a slower rate over the next 41 years to 29,710 in the September 2011 year. Statistics NZ's mid-range population projections (series 5) indicate deaths will continue to increase, surpassing 40,000 in 2029 and 50,000 in 2042. 

Deaths are increasingly concentrated in the older age groups. The median age at death in the September 2011 year was 77 years for males and 83 years for females, compared with 72 years for males and 78 years for females in 1991. Only 5 percent of the deceased were aged under 40 years in the September 2011 year, compared with 8 percent in 1991.

Regional deaths

Regional figures are based on the usual residence of the deceased, not the place of death. Statistics NZ does not compile statistics on place of death.

During the September 2011 year, the Auckland region had the highest number of deaths (7,460). Although the Auckland region is home to approximately one-third of New Zealand's population, it only accounted for one-quarter of New Zealand's deaths. This is due to the region's relatively young age structure. The median age of the Auckland region's population is 34 years, compared with 37 years for the national population.

More deaths were recorded in the Canterbury region in the September 2011 year (4,510) up from 4,190 in the September 2010 year. Part of the increase in deaths in Canterbury can be directly attributed to the earthquake on 22 February 2011. However, more deaths were also registered throughout the rest of the year. 

Infant mortality rate down to 4.8 per 1,000 live births

During the September 2011 year, the number of infant deaths (under one year of age) registered in New Zealand was 300.

The infant mortality rate (infant deaths per 1,000 live births) has dropped over the last 40 years. In the September 2011 year, the infant mortality rate was 4.8 per 1,000, down from 5.2 in the September 2001 year. The decline in the infant mortality rate has been smaller in the last decade than in previous decades. The rate declined from 22.4 (in 1961), to 16.3 (in 1971), to 11.2 (in 1981), to 7.6 (in 1991). 

 Graph, Infant mortality rate, 1962-2011.

 For more detailed data see the Excel tables in the Tables section. 

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