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Age and sex structure of the population

Just over half the New Zealand population (51 percent) 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 P3 Population, by age and sex, 2006

Figure P3 Population, by age and sex, 2006

Source: Statistics New Zealand 

The New Zealand population is ageing: the median age of the population was 36 years in 2006, and is expected to rise to 39 years by 2016, then rise more slowly to reach 41 years in 2026.8

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

Age structure varies by ethnic group. In 2006, the European ethnic group population was the oldest, with a median age of 38 years, followed by Asians (28 years), Other ethnic group (26 years), Māori (23 years) and Pacific peoples (21 years). By 2021, half of all Māori will be older than 26 years and half of all Pacific peoples will be older than 24 years. Over the same period, the median age of European and Asian New Zealanders is expected to have risen to 44 years and 36 years, respectively.9