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The Social Report monitors outcomes for the New Zealand population. This section contains background information on the size and characteristics of the population to provide a context for the indicators that follow.

Population size and growth

New Zealand’s resident population reached 4 million in 2003 and was estimated to be 4.29 million at the end of December 2008.

During 2008, the population grew by 39,300 or 0.9 per cent. This rate of growth was lower than that recorded in 2007 (41,200 or 1.0 per cent) and lower than the average annual increase during the decade ended December 2008 (46,300 or 1.1 per cent).4

Under 2006-based medium population projection assumptions, the population growth rate is expected to drop from 1.0 per cent in 2008 to 0.9 per cent by 2011. Natural increase will account for three-quarters of the projected population growth, and net migration the remaining quarter. Assuming net migration of 10,000 people per year, the growth rate is expected to slow to 0.7 per cent per year between 2021 and 2026. Such growth rates would add around 671,100 people to the population between 2008 and 2026.5

Figure P1 Estimated and projected resident population, 1991–2026

Figure P1 Estimated and projected resident population, 1991–2026

Source: Statistics New Zealand
Note: All three projection series assume medium mortality (life expectancy at birth 84.5 years for males, 88.0 years for females by 2061). The low fertility series (total fertility rate of 1.7 births per woman by 2026) and the medium series assume a long-term annual net migration gain of 10,000 from 2010. The medium series and the high migration series assume medium fertility (total fertility rate of 1.9 births per woman)

» View technical details about the people indicator