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The Ageing of the New Zealand Population, 1881-2051 - WP 03/27

1  Introduction

The New Zealand population is undergoing a long-term transition from a “pre-industrial” age structure in which the vast majority of people are young to “post-industrial” age structure in which young and old age groups are more evenly balanced. This paper presents some empirical data on these age-structural changes. Some of these data will be familiar to anyone concerned with population ageing in New Zealand. Other data, such the results for long-run trends, international comparisons, and prospects for continued mortality decline, may not be.

Section 2 of the paper reviews long-term national trends for age structure, including trends in dependency ratios. Section 3 looks at the changes in fertility, mortality, and migration that have been driving the age-structural trends. Section 4 presents disaggregated results for different ethnic groups, regions, and narrowly-defined age groups. Section 5 compares dependency ratios in New Zealand with those of other OECD countries. Section 6 looks at uncertainty and population projections. Section 7 discusses the likelihood of continued gains in life expectancy, and Section 8 looks at life expectancy and health at older ages. The final section draws together the main findings from the paper.

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