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Components of population change

Changes in national population size are driven by two factors: natural increase (births minus deaths) and net external migration.

Births registered in the December 2008 year exceeded deaths registered in that year by 35,200, just below the 35,500 recorded in 2007. Historically, natural increase has been the main component of population growth in New Zealand, but its contribution is set to decline gradually as the population ages and fertility remains stable. By 2026, natural increase is projected to be about 22,500 a year.

The number of people coming to live in New Zealand in 2008 exceeded those leaving the country to live elsewhere by 3,800. This was below the net migration gain of 5,500 in 2007 and the lowest net migration gain for a December year since 2000. In the December 2008 year, the net gain from permanent and long-term migration accounted for 10 per cent of population growth.

Figure P2 Components of population change, 1982–2008

Figure P2 Components of population change, 1982–2008

Source: Statistics New Zealand 
Note: (1) Before 1991, estimated population change was based on the de facto population concept. From 1991 onwards, population change was based on the resident population concept (2) Net migration refers to permanent and long-term migration

The reduced gain from net migration in 2008 was mainly due to an increase in long-term departures to Australia, from 41,600 in 2007 to 48,500 in 2008. The net outflow to Australia was 35,400 in the December 2008 year, up from 28,000 in the December 2007 year. This was the highest net outflow to Australia recorded.

The main contributing countries to the net migration gain in 2008 were the United Kingdom (7,800), India (5,200), the Philippines (3,700), South Africa and Fiji (each 2,800) and China (2,600). Increased net inflows from these six countries between 2007 and 2008 were not sufficient to offset the increased net outflow to Australia. The United Kingdom has been New Zealand’s leading net source of migrants since 2004.

Two-thirds (66 per cent) of New Zealand nationals returning home in 2008 after a long-term absence came from either Australia or the United Kingdom. These two countries were also the most popular destinations for New Zealand citizens departing for a permanent or long-term absence.

In 2008, there was a net inflow of 40,900 non-New Zealand citizens and a net outflow of 37,000 New Zealand citizens. The net inflow of non-New Zealand citizens more than doubled between 2000 and 2002 (from 26,600 to 54,900), fell to 32,000 in 2005, then rose to 38,200 in 2006 and 2007.

In the decade to 2008, New Zealand had a net gain of 108,500 migrants. Adults aged 25–49 years contributed more than half of this gain (58 per cent), with children aged under 15 years (22 per cent) and young people aged 15–24 years (14 per cent) accounting for most of the remainder. Most new migrants settle in Auckland.

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