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National Ethnic Population Projections: 2013(base)–2038 (update)
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  18 May 2017
Data quality

Period-specific information

This section contains information that has changed since the last release.

General information

This section contains information that does not change between releases.

Period-specific information

Ethnic groups and the reference period

This release contains updated 2013-base population projections for all five broad level 1 ethnic populations of New Zealand: 'European or Other (including New Zealander)', Māori, Asian, Pacific, and MELAA (Middle Eastern, Latin American and African). In addition, three broad level 2 ethnic populations have been projected: Chinese, Indian, and Samoan. This is the first time the MELAA, Chinese, Indian, and Samoan ethnic groups have been projected.

These projections supersede the 2013-base projections released in May 2015. The new projections have the estimated resident population of each ethnic group at 30 June 2013 as a base, and cover the period 2014–38 at one-year intervals.

Consistency with other projections 

These ethnic population projections complement the projections of the total New Zealand population (National Population Projections: 2016(base)–2068) released on 19 October 2016. However, only the median projection (50th percentile) of the ethnic population projections and the median projection of the national population projections are designed to be directly comparable. Other percentiles cannot be directly compared because the projection assumptions may be incompatible.

Changes since the previous 2013-base projections

Addition of four new ethnic groups

For the first time, projections of the MELAA, Chinese, Indian, and Samoan ethnic groups are produced to provide further information about the increasingly diverse ethnic make-up of New Zealand’s population.

Review of assumptions

Deriving the projections involves a review of all projection assumptions for each ethnic group. These national ethnic population projections are updated to incorporate the latest demographic information, notably the 2016-base national population projections (released 19 October 2016). Birth and death registrations and international travel and migration are also important data sources.

The main changes from the previous 2013-base projections (released May 2015) are:

  • Net migration for all ethnic groups is assumed to be higher in the short term (2014–21). The median annual net migration is assumed to be 1,000 higher for ‘European or Other’, and 2,000 higher for Asian in the long term (2022–38). This is consistent with the higher levels assumed in recent national population projections.
  • The total fertility rates (TFRs) for all four ethnic groups included in the previous 2013-base projections have decreased. The Māori and Pacific long-term TFRs are both 0.10 lower, and the ‘European or Other’ and Asian TFRs are both 0.05 lower. This is more consistent with the lower assumed rates in recent national population projections.

Projection assumptions

Projection assumptions are formulated after analysis of short-term and long-term historical trends, recent trends, and patterns observed in other countries, and government policy. The 'National ethnic population projections, projection assumptions, 2013(base)–2038 update' table in NZ.Stat provides a summary of the assumptions for each ethnic group.

Base population

These projections have as a base the estimated resident population of each ethnic group at 30 June 2013. For the level 1 ethnic populations, these were based on the census usually resident population count of each ethnic group at 5 March 2013 with adjustments for:

  • non-response to the census ethnicity question
  • net census undercount
  • residents temporarily overseas on census night
  • births, deaths, and net migration between census night (5 March 2013) and 30 June 2013
  • reconciliation with demographic estimates at ages 0–9 years.

The 'Estimated resident population (ERP), adjustments to derive ERP at 30 June 2013 (from census usually resident population)' table in NZ.Stat provides a summary of the ERP and adjustments to derive ERP at 30 June 2013 for each level 1 ethnic group.

For the level 2 ethnic populations, the separate adjustments are not explicitly estimated. Instead, the level 2 ERPs are based on the ratio of the level 2 ‘census usually resident population count’ to the respective level 1 ‘census usually resident population count’ applied to the level 1 ERP by age-sex.

The ERP is the best available measure of the number of people of each ethnic group usually living in New Zealand. However, for projection purposes, some uncertainty in the base population has been assumed. This uncertainty is assumed to vary by age and sex, and arise from two broad sources:

  • Census enumeration and processing. Coverage errors may arise from non-enumeration and mis-enumeration (eg residents counted as visitors from overseas, and vice versa), either because of deliberate or inadvertent respondent or collector error. Errors may also arise during census processing (eg scanning, numeric and character recognition, imputation, coding, editing, creation of substitute forms).
  • Adjustments in deriving population estimates. This includes the adjustments applied in deriving the ERP at 30 June of the census year (eg net census undercount). It also includes uncertainty associated with the post-censal components of population change (eg estimates of births occurring in each time period based on birth registrations; changes in classification of external migrants between ‘permanent and long-term’ and 'short-term').

For each ethnic group, simulations of the base population are produced by drawing a random number sampled from a normal distribution with a mean of zero. For each simulation, a random number is multiplied by the assumed standard error for each age-sex then added to the base ERP.

Fertility and paternity

New birth cohorts are added to the population by applying fertility assumptions to the female population of childbearing age (12–49 years) and paternity assumptions to the male population (15–54 years). The paternity rates allow for births that men of a given ethnic group have with women not of that ethnic group. The assumptions are formulated relative to those in the National Population Projections: 2016(base)–2068 using birth registrations, period fertility rates, and census data on 'number of children born alive' (including rates of childlessness).

Total fertility rates (TFRs) are assumed to vary throughout the projection period. Total fertility rates for 2014-16 reflect birth registrations for each ethnic group. Under the median assumption, the TFR decreases between 2016 and 2038 for the:

  • 'European or Other' population from 1.90 to 1.80 births per woman
  • Māori population from 2.47 to 2.10 births per woman
  • Asian population from 1.64 to 1.55 births per woman
    • Chinese population from 1.76 to 1.60 births per woman
    • Indian population from 1.62 to 1.55 births per woman
  • Pacific population from 2.70 to 2.20 births per woman
    • Samoan population from 2.50 to 2.00 births per woman
  • MELAA population from 2.00 to 1.87 births per woman.

Age-specific fertility rates (ASFRs) are assumed to vary throughout the projection period. Under the median assumption, ASFRs decrease between 2014 and 2038 for:

  • 'European or Other' women aged under 32 years, and increase for women aged 32 years and over
  • Māori women aged under 36 years, and increase for women aged 36 years and over
  • Asian women aged under 34 years, and increase for women aged 34 years and over
    • Chinese women aged under 36 years, and increase for women aged 36 years and over
    • Indian women aged under 31 years, and increase for women aged 31 years and over
  • Pacific women aged under 39 years, and increase for women aged 39 years and over
    • Samoan women aged under 43 years, and increase for women aged 43 years and over
  • MELAA women aged under 34 years, and increase for women aged 34 years and over.

Graph, Assumed 50th percentile total fertilty and paternity rates, By ethnic group 2014–38.

For each ethnic group, simulations of TFRs are produced using a simple random walk with drift model. Random errors are sampled from a normal distribution with a mean of zero and different standard deviations for each ethnic group: 0.05 for 'European or Other', 0.09 for Māori, 0.07 for Asian, 0.10 for Chinese, 0.09 for Indian, 0.11 for Pacific, 0.14 for Samoan and 0.13 for MELAA. The drift function shifts the median of the TFR simulations to follow the assumed median TFR. Median ASFRs are scaled to sum to the simulated TFR.

Total paternity rates (TPRs) are assumed to vary throughout the projection period. Under the median assumption, the TPR decreases between 2014 and 2038 for the:

  • 'European or Other' population from 0.15 to 0.13 births per man (with non-European and non-Other women)
  • Māori population from 1.00 to 0.80 births per man (with non-Māori women)
  • Asian population from 0.17 to 0.13 births per man (with non-Asian women)
    • Chinese population from 0.25 to 0.19 births per man (with non-Chinese women)
    • Indian population from 0.25 to 0.23 births per man (with non-Indian women)
  • Pacific population from 0.98 to 0.80 births per man (with non-Pacific women)
    • Samoan population from 1.50 to 1.10 births per man (with non-Samoan women)
  • MELAA population from 0.75 to 0.68 births per man (with non-MELAA women).

Age-specific paternity rates (ASPRs) are assumed to vary throughout the projection period. Under the median assumption, ASPRs decrease between 2014 and 2038 for:

  • 'European or Other' men aged under 38 years, and increase for men aged 38 years and over
  • Māori men aged under 43 years, and increase for men aged 43 years and over
  • Asian men aged under 47 years, and increase for men aged 47 years and over
    • Chinese men of all ages
    • Indian men aged under 33 years, and increase for men aged 33 years and over
  • Pacific men aged under 41 years, and increase for men aged 41 years and over
    • Samoan men aged under 48 years, and increase for men aged 48 years and over
  • MELAA men aged under 40 years, and increase for men aged 40 years and over.

For each ethnic group, simulations of TPRs are produced using a simple random walk with drift model. Random errors are sampled from a normal distribution with a mean of zero and different standard deviations for each ethnic group: 0.01 for 'European or Other', 0.04 for Māori, 0.02 for Asian, 0.02 for Chinese, 0.04 for Indian, 0.05 for Pacific, 0.09 for Samoan, and 0.06 for MELAA . The drift function shifts the median of the TPR simulations to follow the assumed median TPR. Median ASPRs are scaled to sum to the simulated TPR.

The projections allow for births to parents of each ethnic group that are not registered as children of that ethnic group. Simulations of this loss factor for each ethnic group and year are produced by drawing a random number sampled from a normal distribution with different means and standard deviations based on historical data for the June 2007–16 years for:

  • 'European or Other' – a mean of 1.7 percent and standard deviation 0.2
  • Māori – a mean of 4.0 percent and standard deviation 0.2
  • Asian – a mean of 2.4 percent and standard deviation 0.6
    • Chinese – a mean of 2.7 percent and standard deviation 1.0
    • Indian – a mean of 2.0 percent and standard deviation 0.5
  • Pacific – a mean of 3.4 percent and standard deviation 0.3
    • Samoan – a mean of 3.0 percent and standard deviation 0.3
  • MELAA – a mean of 8.7 percent and standard deviation 1.2.

The projections then allocate births between male and female. Simulations of the sex ratio at birth for each ethnic group and year are produced by drawing a random number sampled from a normal distribution with a mean of 105.5 males per 100 females and different standard deviations for each ethnic group: 1.2 for 'European or Other', 1.5 for Māori, 2.0 for Asian, 3.5 for Chinese, 2.5 for Indian, 2.0 for Pacific, 3.5 for Samoan, and 6.0 for MELAA. The mean and standard deviation are based on historical data for the June 1997–2016 years.

Future fertility trends are uncertain and depend on a range of factors:

  • changes in population composition and different trends in population subgroups (including ethnic groups)
  • trends in ideal family size and the strength of individual desires for children
  • trends in the patterns of education and work, including the timing, duration, and proportion of time dedicated to those activities
  • changing macro-level conditions (eg government policies, childcare facilities, and housing) that influence the cost of children in a broad sense
  • changing nature and stability of partnerships, including rates of partnership formation (including re-partnering) and dissolution
  • changing biomedical conditions (eg female fecundity, new methods for assisted conception).
Mortality

Mortality assumptions are applied to each age-sex group to allow for deaths. The assumptions are formulated relative to those in National Population Projections: 2016(base)–2068 using death registrations and period life tables. In those national population projections, the assumptions are essentially driven by historic trends in age-sex-specific death rates.

Under the median assumption, life expectancy at birth (e0) increases between 2016 and 2038 for the:

  • 'European or Other' population from 81.1 to 85.0 years for males, and from 84.5 to 88.0 years for females
  • Māori population from 73.5 to 80.6 years for males, and from 77.5 to 84.0 years for females
  • Asian population from 85.0 to 88.2 years for males, and from 87.8 to 90.8 years for females
    • Chinese population from 86.8 to 89.9 years for males, and from 89.8 to 92.5 years for females
    • Indian population from 84.9 to 88.1 years for males, and from 85.4 to 88.4 years for females
  • Pacific population from 75.7 to 82.0 years for males, and from 79.8 to 85.5 years for females
    • Samoan population from 77.0 to 82.8 year for males, and from 81.7 to 86.8 years for females
  • MELAA population from 82.3 to 85.9 years for males, and from 84.4 to 87.9 years for females.

 

 Graph, Assumed 50th percentile female life expect nepp 2014_2038.

Graph, Assumed 50th percentile male life expect nepp 2014_2038.

 

As with the national population projections, death rates change at different rates at different ages, and age-specific survivorship rates (ASSRs) are assumed to vary throughout the projection period.

For each ethnic group, simulations of e0 are produced using a simple random walk with drift model. Random errors are sampled from a normal distribution with a mean of zero and the standard deviations are based on period life tables for males and females in each year. The drift function shifts the median of the e0 simulations to follow the assumed median e0. Median ASSRs are scaled to sum to the simulated e0.

Although mortality reductions are expected to continue in the future, the extent of the trends is uncertain and depends on a range of factors:

  • changes in population composition and different trends in population subgroups (including ethnic groups)
  • changes in biomedical technology, regenerative medicine, and preventative methods including monitoring, treatment, and early intervention
  • changes in health care systems including effectiveness of public health
  • changes in behaviour and lifestyle (eg smoking, exercise, diet)
  • changes in infectious diseases and resistance to antibiotics
  • environmental change, disasters, and wars.
Migration 

Migration assumptions are applied to each age-sex group to allow for net migration (arrivals minus departures). Ethnicity is not collected in external migration data, but the migration assumptions are based on an assessment of recent and expected trends of arrivals and departures of New Zealand citizens and non-New Zealand citizens by birthplace, as well as observed intercensal ethnic population change.

Under the median assumption, the long-term (2022–38) annual net migration levels are:

  • 'European or Other' -2,000
  • Māori -4,000
  • Asian 15,000
    • Chinese 4,000
    • Indian 5,000
  • Pacific 1,000
    • Samoan 500
  • MELAA 2,000.

Higher net migration levels are assumed in the short term for all ethnic groups.

Graph, Assumed 50th percentile net migration levels, By ethnic group 2014–38.

For each ethnic group, simulations of net migration are produced using an autoregressive integrated moving average or ARIMA (1,0,1) with drift model. Random errors are sampled from a normal distribution with mean of zero and different parameters for:

  • 'European or Other' – a standard deviation of 8,000, autoregressive parameter 0.05, and moving average parameter -0.071
  • Māori – a standard deviation of 1,900, autoregressive parameter 0.16, and moving average parameter 0.166
  • Asian – a standard deviation of 9,000, autoregressive parameter 0.04, and moving average parameter -0.098
    • Chinese – a standard deviation of 4,000, autoregressive parameter 0.07, and moving average parameter -0.149
    • Indian – a standard deviation of 5,000, autoregressive parameter 0.06, and moving average parameter -0.099
  • Pacific – a standard deviation of 1,500, autoregressive parameter 0.16, and moving average parameter -0.105
    • Samoan – a standard deviation of 600, autoregressive parameter 0.24, and moving average parameter -0.157
  • MELAA – a standard deviation of 1,200, autoregressive parameter 0.13, and moving average parameter -0.323.

The drift function shifts the median of the net migration simulations to follow the assumed median net migration. Net migration by age-sex is interpolated between a high and low pattern, to sum to the simulated net migration level.

There is a 50 percent chance that long-term (2022–38) annual net migration will be in the range for:

  • 'European or Other' of -7,400 to 3,400
  • Māori of -5,300 to -2,700
  • Asian of 8,000 to 21,000
    • Chinese of 1,300 to 6,700
    • Indian of 1,600 to 8,300
  • Pacific of 0 to 2,000
    • Samoan of 100 to 900
  • MELAA of 1,200 to 2,800.

Future migration trends are uncertain and depend on a range of factors in source and destination countries:

  • changes in immigration policy (in New Zealand and other countries)
  • changes in the main motives for migration (eg work, family reunification, education, asylum, retirement)
  • changes in migration pressure in source countries (eg population growth, economic growth)
  • changes in the attractiveness of New Zealand as a place to live (eg work opportunities, economic conditions, wages relative to costs and other countries, settlement and integration practices)
  • costs of migration, including cost of travel and existence of networks and pathways that facilitate migration
  • environmental change, disasters, and wars.
Inter-ethnic mobility

Inter-ethnic mobility (IEM) assumptions are applied to each age-sex group to allow for the net effect of people changing their ethnic identification over time. Comparisons of demographic estimates and census populations before the 1990s suggest that IEM generally resulted in a loss from the Māori population of between 0.3 and 0.9 percent per year. However, changes in census questionnaire design, ethnicity classification, and coding always made it difficult to accurately measure IEM, especially when there were no explicit estimates of ethnic migration. It was even more difficult to measure IEM for other ethnic populations as equivalent ethnic identifiers were not available in birth and death registrations.

New IEM assumptions have been developed using rates derived from the New Zealand Longitudinal Census (NZLC), specifically the three most-recent linked census pairs (1996–2001, 2001–06, and 2006–13). IEM rates represent the net propensity for individuals to enter or leave an ethnic group during the following year, relative to the ethnic population at the start of the year. The rates are based on linked records where ethnicity was specified in both census years. No account of any bias introduced as a result of non-response among linked records has been taken into account. Similarly no adjustment was made to weight for unmatched records.

In addition to smoothing of the data, two other modifications were made to the age-sex distributions for each group. It was found that the male and female rates were sufficiently similar to justify simply averaging the rates to provide total rates by age. The rates for people aged 68 years and over remained volatile because of the relatively small number of people in each age group and the small number changing ethnicity at any one age. A simple extrapolation of rates from 68 years to 100 years was applied. The second age adjustment was applied to the younger ages. Because only people alive at the time of the previous census, the linked data cannot contain anybody younger than 7 years for the 2013–06 pair and younger than 5 years for earlier pairs. Rates were derived from smoothed data for ages under 12 years of age to provide rates back to age zero. IEM assumptions are also applied to births to allow for net changes in identification between birth registrations and census-based population estimates.

IEM generally affects only a small proportion of the population-at-risk, so derived rates tend to be volatile both by age within an intercensal period and between intercensal periods. The assumed rates are therefore an average of the three intercensal periods and smoothed across age. Because age-specific rates are applied, the overall net IEM changes over time. Under the median assumption, there is an average net change to the population in 2014–38 due to people changing their ethnic identification for:

  • 'European or Other' – 0.11 percent a year
  • Māori – 0.43 percent a year
  • Asian – -0.08 percent a year
    • Chinese – 0.07
    • Indian – -0.37
  • Pacific – -0.12 percent a year
    • Samoan – -0.06
  • MELAA – 0.62.

For each ethnic group, simulations of IEM by age are produced using an ARIMA (1,0,1) with drift model. Random errors are sampled from a normal distribution with mean of zero and different parameters for each ethnic group. The drift function shifts the median of the IEM simulations to follow the assumed median IEM.

Which projection to use

The projections are summarised by percentiles, which indicate the probability distribution for any projected characteristic. You can make your own judgement as to which projections are most suitable for your purposes. At the time of release, the 50th percentile (or median) indicates an estimated 50 percent chance that the actual result will be lower, and a 50 percent chance that the actual result will be higher, than this percentile. The median is equivalent to the 'medium' (or mid-range) projection provided in previous deterministic projections. The 25th percentile indicates an estimated 25 percent chance that the actual result will be lower, and a 75 percent chance that the actual result will be higher, than this percentile. It is important to note, however, that the estimates of uncertainty are themselves uncertain.

General information

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 and people can identify with more than one ethnicity. Ethnicity is different from ancestry, birthplace, and nationality. For example, people can identify with Māori ethnicity although they may not be descended from a Māori ancestor. Conversely, people may choose to not identify with Māori ethnicity even though they are descended from a Māori ancestor.

See Review of the Measurement of Ethnicity or the ethnicity classification for more information about ethnicity including information about the Statistical Standard for Ethnicity 2005.

'European or Other (including New Zealander)'

Projections have been derived for the combined 'European or Other (including New Zealander)' ethnic group. Sufficient demographic data is available to enable projection assumptions to be derived for the combined ethnic group, but not for the separate 'European' or 'Other (including New Zealander)' ethnic groups defined in level one of the ethnicity classification. This approach is consistent with Guidelines for Using Ethnicity Data: 2006 Census. If a person belongs to both the 'European' and 'Other' ethnic groups, they have only been counted once. Almost all people in the 'Other' ethnicity group belong to the 'New Zealander' sub-group.

Availability of other ethnic projections

Projections are not available for all individual ethnicities (eg Tongan, Filipino). For smaller ethnic populations, it is difficult to derive robust measures of the components of ethnic population change – fertility, paternity, mortality, migration, inter-ethnic mobility – to enable projections to be readily produced.

Method

A special 'cohort component' method has been used to derive the population projections. Using this method, the base population is projected forward by calculating the effect of deaths, migration, and inter-ethnic mobility within each age-sex group (or cohort) according to the specified mortality, migration, and inter-ethnic mobility assumptions. New birth cohorts are added to the population by applying the specified fertility assumptions to the female population of childbearing age, and the specified paternity assumptions to the male population.

The method differs from the conventional cohort component method in two respects:

  1. for each ethnic group, births are projected separately for women, and for men where the mother is not of that ethnic group
  2. the projections allow for population change due to inter-ethnic mobility (ie people changing their ethnic identification over time).

The stochastic approach involves creating 2,000 simulations for the base population, births, deaths, net migration, and inter-ethnic mobility, and then combining these using the cohort component method.

Nature of projections 

These projections are not predictions. The projections should be used as an indication of the overall trend, rather than as exact forecasts. The projections are updated every 2–3 years to maintain their relevance and usefulness, by incorporating new information about demographic trends and developments in methods.

The projections are designed to meet both short-term and long-term planning needs, but are not designed to be exact forecasts or to project specific annual variation. These projections are based on assumptions made about future fertility, mortality, migration, and inter-ethnic mobility patterns of the population. While the assumptions are formulated from an assessment of short-term and long-term demographic trends, there is no certainty that any of the assumptions will be realized.

The projections do not take into account non-demographic factors (eg war, catastrophes, major government and business decisions) which may invalidate the projections.

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

  • Ethnic identification can change over time. See the inter-ethnic mobility section for further explanation.
  • There are greater difficulties in establishing past trends in fertility, mortality, and migration. Different ethnicities can be reported in different collections (eg birth registration form, death registration form, census form), which makes deriving 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 international travel and 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. Hence, Stats NZ includes people in each of their reported ethnic groups.
  • Births to parents of different ethnicities add complexity. The parents may consider the child to belong to one or more of their ethnicities, or indeed to another ethnicity.
  • There is greater future uncertainty about the components of population change. For example, it is uncertain whether the fertility and mortality of different ethnicities will 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 migration patterns.

Stats NZ incorporates these factors into its methodology for ethnic population projections and has developed stochastic population projections to illustrate uncertainty. However, it is because of these factors that ethnic population projections are currently limited to the eight broad ethnic groups and the 25-year projection period presented in this release. 

Rounding 

All figures in this release were rounded independently, and all derived figures were calculated using data of greater precision than published.  

Accuracy

The accuracy of these projections is unknown at the time of release. An evaluation of previous Stats NZ national and subnational population projections, but not ethnic population projections, over the period 1996–2013 is available in How accurate are population projections?

Confidentiality 

Data is combined from many sources to produce population projections. Therefore, it is not possible to identify individuals in our published statistics. The published statistics are also aggregated (eg to larger geographical areas), while data is also rounded to avoid conveying spurious levels of precision.

More information

Population projections tables provides links to detailed projection results, including projections by single-year of age and sex, on NZ.Stat.

See demographic projections in DataInfo+, which also include information about methods and assumptions.

Subnational ethnic population projections (2013-base update) are scheduled for release on 3 October 2017. 

Customised projections, such as projections using client-specified assumptions, are available on request. Email: demography@stats.govt.nz.

Statistics in this release have been produced in accordance with the Official Statistics System principles and protocols for producers of Tier 1 statistics for quality. They conform to the Statistics NZ Methodological Standard for Reporting of Data Quality.

Liability

While all care and diligence has been used in processing, analysing, and extracting data and information in this publication, Statistics NZ gives no warranty it is error-free, and will not be liable for any loss or damage suffered by the use directly, or indirectly, of the information in this publication.

Timing

Our information releases are delivered electronically by third parties. Delivery may be delayed by circumstances outside our control. Stats NZ does not accept responsibility for any such delay.

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