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Age and sex structure of the population

Just over half (51 per cent) of the New Zealand population is female. Males outnumber females among children and youth, but females predominate among adults. More males are born than females, but males have higher mortality rates than females at all ages, particularly at ages 20–29 years. The imbalance in the middle years is partly an outcome of sex differences in net migration. At older ages, the difference reflects higher male mortality rates.

Figure P4 Population, by age and sex, 2008

Figure P4 Population, by age and sex, 2008

Source: Statistics New Zealand 

The New Zealand population is ageing: the median age of the total population was 36 years in 2006, and it is expected to rise to 38 years by 2016, and to 40 years in 2026.8

The proportion of the population under 15 years of age has declined from 25 per cent in 1985 to 22 per cent in 2006. The population aged 65 years and over has increased from 10 per cent of the total population in 1985 to 12 per cent in 2006.

Age structure varies by ethnic group. In 2006, the European or Other population was the oldest, with a median age of 38 years, followed by the Asian population (28 years), the Māori population (23 years) and Pacific peoples (22 years). By 2026, half of all Māori will be older than 25 years and half of all Pacific peoples will be older than 23 years. Over the same period, the median age of Asian New Zealanders is expected to rise to 36 years, while for European or Other New Zealanders it will rise to 43 years.9

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