New Zealand’s total fertility rate dipped to a record low last year.

New data from Statistics New Zealand shows our national fertility rate was down to 1.81 births per woman – the lowest level since records started in the 1920s.

There were 59,610 live births registered in 2017.

Based on birth rates in 2017, Kiwi women would average 1.81 births over their lifetime.

Population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said while the number of live births had increased, the fertility rate had decreased due to increased population size.

“The total New Zealand population continues to grow, driven by near-record levels of migration in 2017,” Dolan said.

The total fertility rate had only dropped below 1.90 births three times before. This happened most recently in 2016, when it dipped to 1.87.

Dolan said our fertility rate had been reasonably stable for the past four decades.

It had ranged from the new record set last year – 1.81 – to a record high 2.19.

“In contrast, fertility rates increased dramatically following the Great Depression and World War II, peaking at 4.31 births per woman in 1961,” he said.

“New Zealand then experienced declining fertility over the following two decades.”

The reduction in birth rates since 2008 had largely been driven by trends among women aged 15 to 29.

The lower fertility rate could lead to reduced population growth if it stayed below the replacement level of around 2.1.

According to new statistics around Kiwis’ death rates, the average New Zealand female had a life expectancy of 83.4 years.

The life expectancy for males was slightly lower, sitting at 80 years.

Source: NZ Herald


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