New Zealand’s birth rate has dropped to its lowest level ever, well below the 2.1 babies per woman needed to keep the population through birth alone, new data show.
The fertility rate – the average number of children a woman gives birth to – has dropped to 1.61, the Stats NZ said on Thursday.
Nations population growth has slowed in migration and fewer deaths, with Stats NZ reporting 32,613 deaths by 2020 a 5 percent drop compared to last year. The population of the countries arrived 5 million last March.
The birth rate in New Zealand was relatively stable between 1980 and 2012, but has generally declined since then, said population estimates and forecast manager Hamish Slack.
Since 2013, the number of women of reproductive age has increased by 11 percent and the number of births has decreased by 2 percent.
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In 2020, there were 57,753 live births recorded in New Zealand, down 2064 or 3 percent from the previous year. There was also a jump in women between the ages of 15 and 49, the overall reproductive age, which contributed to the lowest fertility rate.
Gisborne and Northland had the highest fertility rates at 2.3 births per woman, with mothers aged between 28.4 and 28.9 when the youngest in the country were born.
The Otago and Wellington regions had the lowest fertility rates at 1.4 and 1.5 respectively. The average age of mothers from these areas at the time of birth was highest in New Zealand, at 31.4 years for both of these regions.
Regions with large higher education providers, such as Otago and Wellington, have a higher number of young women who are within childbearing ages but usually do not have births during the study. This often means that these regions are likely to have lower fertility rates than other regions.
More people die in the cool months, and about 500 die each year from the flu, but in recent years Covid-19 public health measures and blockade have stopped it in its tracks. Home stay instructions and travel limits also played an important role in fewer deaths, which were reduced by 1647.
Three hundred fewer people died during the Covid-19 blockade compared to recent years, even though thousands of patient appointments were canceled across the country.
Most of the babies recorded in 2020 were conceived before New Zealand moved to alarm level 4 in March 2020 and data released in May will show the number of babies conceived during the blockage.
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