Statistics NZ expects New Zealand’s resident population to reach 5 million late this year or in 2020, based on recent trends, after hitting 4.9 million at the end of September.
New Zealand’s population growth is trailing close behind Australia’s 2 biggest cities – the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Melbourne’s population reached 5 million in September and Sydney’s was 5.2 million, although research by the independent Population Australia has Sydney above 5.6 million. Australia’s population rose by 1 million in 31 months to 25 million, reaching that mark on 7 August.
Statistics NZ said in a release yesterday: “It took 30 years to move from 3 million (in 1973) to 4 million (in 2003). But it is likely to take only about half that time to increase by another 1 million – about 16 years. In 1908 the country had just 1 million people living here.”
How fast is New Zealand growing now?
According to Statistics NZ’s population clock, New Zealand’s population is increasing by one person every 5 minutes & 26 seconds.
Population growth reflects both patterns of migration & ‘natural increase’ (the difference between births & deaths). In the year ended September 2018, the population increased nearly 90,000. Over two-thirds of that was from net migration, and the rest from natural increase, with 27,000 more births than deaths.
This 1.9% growth for the September 2018 year was down from a high of 2.1% in 2016.
Those rates are strong compared to the much slower 0.5% in 2012, which was driven by natural increase during a period when the net migration flow was outward.
Statistics NZ’s latest provisional estimate of annual migration in the year ended November 2018 was 43,400, plus or minus 1500. This was the first official release of estimates using the ‘outcomes-based’ measure, which replaces the previous ‘intentions-based’ method of measuring migration.
The organisation says the outcomes-based measure is more accurate and this will flow through into other data uses, including official population estimates.
But it recognises that migration is highly variable, both month to month and over the years: “While annual net migration has been high in recent years, there have been other periods when many more people left New Zealand than arrived here. For example, from the mid-1970s there was an annual net migration loss that went on for many years.”
One other feature apparent in Statistics NZ’s monthly migration figures is the level of churn – more NZ citizens leaving than returning, and far more non-citizens arriving. Total departures jumped from 82-88,000/year in 2009-10 to 100-102,000/year in 2011-12, then fell below 90,000/year for the next 5 years, dropping to 73,000 in 2014. In the year toNovember 2018, however, exits jumped from 89,000 to almost 101,000, led by a rise in departures of non-citizens.
How many new Kiwikids are born each year?
Statistics NZ said while net immigration had dominated population growth since 2013, births had been relatively steady at about 60,000/year for the last 6 years, despite a decline in birth rates. In other words, the number of births/1000 people has been falling, but the growing population means total births remain at relatively high levels, after reachinga recent peak of almost 65,000/year in the period 2007-10.
New Zealand’s total fertility rate in 2017 was down to 1.8 births/woman, its lowest recorded level.
Despite a much smaller population almost 60 years ago, there was an even greater number of babies (over 65,000) born in 1961–62, when the birth rate/1000 people was higher. In 1961, the total fertility rate was 4.3 births/woman, more than double the replacement level of 2.1.
What’s the effect of our growing & aging population?
As New Zealand’s population grows & ages, generally slightly more people die each year (almost 33,000 in the year to September 2018) partly offsetting the population growth from babies & new immigrants.
Statistics NZ said the number of deaths/year exceeded 30,000 for the first time in 2011: “Deaths are likely to increase, despite increasing life expectancy, because of the growing population, especially in older age groups.”
Since the early 1950s, life expectancy for both men & women has increased by more than a decade. Based on death rates in 2015–17, life expectancy at birth is 80 for men & 83 for women.
When will we get to 6 million?
Further ahead, Statistics NZ said: “Our population projections are an indication of the overall trend, rather than exact forecasts year by year. They are not predictions – the actual population growth could be lower or higher than median projection, depending on factors including highly volatile migration.
“The latest 2016-base projections indicate that New Zealand will probably reach the 6 million mark in the mid-2040s. However, it could be as soon as the 2030s, particularly if migration remains at historically high levels.
25 January 2019: November net migrant inflow down 40%, annual rate down 19% as new measure kicks in
13 September 2018: Melbourne sees still higher land prices & shrinking house lots as population hits 5 million
Attribution: Statistics NZ release.