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Effects of changing from de facto population estimates to resident population estimates

Introduction

Estimates of the population of New Zealand date back to at least as early as 1851, when the first census for the whole of the colony of New Zealand was undertaken. Annual estimates of the population of New Zealand (inclusive of Mäori) date back to 1870 (Annual Statistical Report On Population and Dwellings, 1925-26 to 1931-32, Table: Progress of Population). Until 1996 official estimates of the population were estimates of the de facto population.

Since the 1996 Census of Population and Dwellings, Statistics New Zealand has published estimates of the resident population of New Zealand rather than estimates of the de facto population. The resident population concept is now the official concept for all population estimates and projections released by Statistics New Zealand. This brings our series in line with international practice.

Estimates of the resident population of New Zealand are published quarterly. Subnational estimates (for territorial authorities, regional councils and urban areas) are available annually, as at 30 June (they are released in late November). The rationale for the changes in population concept and methodology have been described in detail elsewhere (Demographic Trends 1996 article “The 1996 Post-Enumeration Survey (PES) and Post-censal Population Estimates”).

Estimates of the de facto population have been built on censuses, with the new base population after each census being all those people enumerated by the census, including overseas visitors in New Zealand on census night. Estimates were moved forward quarterly by bringing in the components of change, viz births, deaths and total external migration. Estimates of the resident population are also built on the census, but with adjustments for undercount in the 1996 Census (as measured by the 1996 Post-Enumeration Survey) and for New Zealand residents temporarily overseas on 5 March 1996 (census date). These adjustments are not included in the de facto estimates, while overseas visitors are not included in the estimates of the resident population. Also, the resident population estimates involve births and deaths of resident population, and permanent and long-term population.

In this article we outline the effects of the changes made upon the estimates of population. Attention is focused on the differences between the old de facto estimates and the new resident estimates of the national population.

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