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National family and household projections

For detailed projections see:

Projections of the numbers of families and households in New Zealand are derived by multiplying the projected population by assumed living arrangement type rates for each age-sex group. The living arrangement type rates vary by age and sex, and are assumed to change over time with changes in social patterns (eg age of cohabitation and marriage, fertility rates, rates of marriage dissolution, propensity and ability of people to live alone). The projections of population by living arrangement type are subsequently aggregated to give projections of families (by broad family type) and households (by broad household type). The projections cover the period 2014–38 at one-year intervals.

Six alternative series are produced by combining three population projections (low, medium, and high) with two variants (A, remaining constant at current levels, and B, changing, detailed below) of living arrangement type rates.


The medium projection assumes:

  • New Zealand women will have 1.90 children each on average in the long-term
  • life expectancy at birth will increase to 84.7 years for males and 88.0 years for females in 2038
  • a net migration gain of 54,000 in the June year 2015, 33,000 in 2016, and 12,000 in each subsequent year
  • living arrangement type rates will change linearly between 2013 and 2038, based on an assessment of trends between 1986 and 2013 and likely future trends, by sex and by single-year of age.

Total families

Under the medium B projection, the number of families is projected to increase by 356,000 (an average of 1.0 percent a year) between 2013 and 2038, from 1.25 million to 1.60 million.

A family, as defined here, consists of a couple, with or without child(ren), or one parent with child(ren), usually living together in a household. Couples include opposite-sex and same-sex couples.

Couple-without-children families

Couple-without-children families will account for 60 percent of the growth in the number of families, rising 215,000 from 513,000 in 2013 to 728,000 in 2038 (an average growth of 1.4 percent a year). Couple-without-children families include a) couples who will never have children, b) couples who will have children in the future, and c) couples whose children have left the parental home. Growth in the number of couples whose children have left the parental home is expected to be the most significant, as the large number of people born in the 1950s to early 1970s reach the older ages. An increasing proportion of couples who will never have children is also likely to contribute to the growing number of couple-without-children families, but to a much lesser extent.

Two-parent families

Two-parent families is projected to account for 30 percent of the growth in the number of families. The number of two-parent families (504,000 in 2013) is projected to grow an average of 0.8 percent a year to 610,000 by 2038.

One-parent families

One-parent families contribute 10 percent of growth in the number of families, increasing from 230,000 in 2013 to 265,000 in 2038 (an average growth of 0.6 percent a year). Within one-parent families, the number of single male parents will increase at a faster rate than single female parents. In 2038, single male parents will make up 22 percent of one-parent families, compared with 18 percent in 2013.

In 2013, 41 out of 100 families were couple-without-children families, 40 were two-parent families, and 18 were one-parent families. In 2038, the proportion of couple-without-children families is expected to increase to 45 out of 100 families, while two-parent and one-parent families drop to 38 and 17, respectively.

Children in families

Children in families can be of any age, and can include a mature child living with older parent(s). Therefore, it is useful to distinguish families with dependent children (people aged under 18 and not in full-time employment) from families with older children.

In 2013, about 82 percent (412,000) of two-parent families and 72 percent (166,000) of one-parent families contained dependent children. Assuming these proportions remain constant during the projection period, the number of families with dependent children will increase from 577,000 in 2013 to 689,000 in 2038.

Within these families, the number of both two-parent and one-parent families with dependent children is projected to increase throughout the projection period, from 412,000 and 166,000 in 2013 to 498,000 and 191,000 in 2038, respectively. Two-parent families will grow faster, at an average of 0.8 percent a year compared with 0.6 percent a year for one-parent families.

Total households

The number of households is projected to increase by 496,000 (an average of 1.1 percent a year), from 1.65 million in 2013 to 2.14 million in 2038. This growth is faster than that of families (an average of 1.0 percent a year) and the population (an average of 0.9 percent a year) over the period, reflecting the trend towards smaller average household size and the increasing number of non-family households. The number of households is projected to surpass 2 million under all alternative projections.

A household is defined as one person usually living alone, or two or more people usually living together and sharing facilities (eg eating facilities, cooking facilities, bathroom and toilet facilities, a living area) in a private dwelling.

One-person households

One-person households are projected to be the fastest growing household type, increasing by 190,000 (an average of 1.6 percent a year) from 393,000 in 2013 to 583,000 in 2038. They will account for 27 percent of all households in 2038, up from 24 percent in 2013. Eleven percent of the population will be living alone in 2038, compared with 9 percent in 2013.

Family households

Family households are projected to increase by 304,000 (an average of 0.9 percent a year), from 1.19 million in 2013 to 1.49 million in 2038. However, because of the faster increase in the number of one-person households, family households will account for a smaller share of all households in 2038 (70 percent) than in 2013 (72 percent). Family households can contain more than one family, or other people living with (but not in) a family. The average number of families per family household is assumed to increase from 1.050 families in 2013 to 1.075 families in 2038, reflecting increasing co-residence of multi-generational families.

Other multi-person households

The number of other multi-person households (households containing more than one person, but not containing a family) is expected to increase from 69,000 in 2013 to 70,000 in 2038 – an average of 0.1 percent a year. Other multi-person households accounted for 4 percent of all households in 2013 and will drop slightly to 3 percent in 2038. People aged 19–29 years will continue to account for about half of all people in other multi-person households.

Household size

The average household size is projected to slowly decrease between 2013 and 2038, from 2.6 to 2.5 people per household. This continues the general decrease seen in recent decades, with the average household size falling from 3.7 people in 1951 and 3.0 people in 1981.

People living in non-private dwellings

Due to population ageing, people living in non-private dwellings (including retirement homes) is the living arrangement type projected to have the fastest growth. Between 2013 and 2038, the number of people in this dwelling type will rise, from 88,000 to 142,000, up an average of 1.9 percent a year.

The number of people aged 80+ living in a non-private dwelling is projected to more than double between 2013 and 2038, from 26,000 to 68,000. This increase is despite a small assumed decrease in the proportion of older people living in non-private dwellings, due to assumed increases in life expectancy and well-being in the older ages.

Page updated 19 February 2016

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