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National Population Estimates: At 30 June 2015
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  14 August 2015
Commentary

This information release contains provisional estimates of the resident population of New Zealand at 30 June 2015. These national population estimates give the best available measure of the size and age-sex structure of the population usually living in New Zealand.

Population growth at almost 2 percent

In the June 2015 year, the estimated resident population grew by 86,900 (1.93 percent) to 4,596,700. This follows an increase of 67,600 (1.52 percent) for the June 2014 year. The 2015 percentage increase was the highest since 2003 when the increase was 1.99 percent.

Population growth in the year to June 2015 was due to a net international migration gain of 58,300 and a natural increase (more births than deaths) of 28,700. Compared with the previous June year, net international migration increased by 19,900, while natural increase fell by 600. The natural increase for the year to June 2015 was the lowest since 2003. 
 

Graph, Components of annual population change 1995–2015.

Median age down slightly

At 30 June 2015, half of New Zealand's population was over 37.3 years. This is slightly lower than the median age of 37.5 years at 30 June 2014. This reduction was mainly due to high net migration of more than 25,000 in the 20–29 year age group. During the June 2015 year the male median age reduced from 36.3 to 36.0 years, and the female median age remained unchanged at 38.6 years.

The lower median age for males compared with females partly reflects their lower life expectancy. Based on death rates in 2012–14, males can expect to live 79.5 years, compared with 83.2 years for females (see New Zealand period life tables, 2012–14).

New Zealand's population has been gradually ageing, due to sustained low fertility and increasing life expectancy. Since 1995, the median age has risen by 5.2 years for females and 4.1 years for males. 

 Graph, Median age 1995–2015.

Changes in age structure in year ended 30 June 2015 

  • Children (aged 0–14 years) accounted for 19.9 percent (915,300) of the population at 30 June 2015, down from 20.2 percent in 2014.
  • The younger working-age population (aged 15–39 years) accounted for 33.3 percent (1,528,600) of the population, up from 32.8 percent in 2014. Between 2014 and 2015, the population aged 15–39 years increased by 3.2 percent (47,400), mainly due to high migration. This meant the younger working-age population was slightly larger than the older working-age population at 30 June 2015.
  • The older working-age population (aged 40–64 years) accounted for 32.2 percent (1,478,500) of the population, down from 32.5 percent in 2014.
  • The population aged 65 years and over accounted for 14.7 percent (674,400) of the population, up from 14.4 percent in 2014.

Changes in age structure in the last two decades

The age structure of New Zealand’s population has changed considerably over the last two decades:

  • Children (aged 0–14 years) accounted for 19.9 percent (915,300) of the population at 30 June 2015, down from 23.1 percent in 1995. Between 1995 and 2015, the population aged 0–14 years increased by 8 percent.
  • The younger working-age population (aged 15–39 years) accounted for 33.3 percent (1,528,600) of the population, down from 38.7 percent in 1995. Between 1995 and 2015, the population aged 15–39 years increased by 8 percent.
  • The older working-age population (aged 40–64 years) accounted for 32.2 percent (1,478,500) of the population, up from 26.7 percent in 1995. Between 1995 and 2015, those aged 40–64 years increased by 51 percent.
  • The population aged 65 years and over accounted for 14.7 percent (674,400) of the population, up from 11.5 percent in 1995. Between 1995 and 2015, the population aged 65+ years increased by 59 percent.

Graph, Share of population by broad age group 1995–2015.

More aged 65+ relative to those aged 15–64 

Even though the number of people aged 5–64 years increased by 2.0 percent in the year ending 30 June 2015, the 65+ dependency ratio (the number of people aged 65+ per 100 people aged 15–64 years) increased from 22.1 to 22.4. This is because the number of people in the 65+ age group increased by 3.7 percent. 

The 65+ dependency ratio has risen from 17.6 in 1995 to 22.4 in 2015. The latest national population projections indicate this is likely to increase significantly, with the ratio expected to be closer to 37.7 in 2035, and 47.3 in 2065. This means that for every person aged 65+, there will be about 2.7 people aged 15–64 in 2035 and 2.1 in 2065, compared with 4.5 people in 2015 and 5.7 in 1995.

In contrast, the 0–14 dependency ratio (the number of people aged 0–14 years per 100 people aged 15–64 years) decreased from 35.3 to 30.4 in the last 20 years. This downward trend will probably continue, with the projected ratio expected to be about 29.3 in 2035, and 27.6 in 2065.

Although the 0–14 and 65+ ratios have changed, the total dependency ratio (sum of the 0–14 and 65+ dependency ratios) was the same in 1995 as it is now, both 52.9. This is projected to increase to 67.1 in 2035, and 74.9 in 2065.

 Graph, Dependency ratios 1995–2015.

For more detailed data see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

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