Latest Social Report 2016 | Previous reports | Contact us



Fertility rates for the year 2006 indicate that New Zealand women average 2.05 births per woman. This is marginally higher than the rate of 2.00 births per woman in 2005 and just under the level required by any population to replace itself without migration (2.1 births per woman). Sub-replacement fertility is a feature of most developed countries, including France (1.9 births per woman), Australia, Denmark, England and Wales, Finland and Norway (1.8), the Netherlands and Sweden (1.7), Canada (1.5) and Japan (1.3), but is less of an issue in the United States (2.1). The comparatively high rate in New Zealand reflects the higher fertility rates of Māori (2.70 births per woman in 2006) and Pacific women (2.94 in 2000–2002, the latest period for which fertility rates for Pacific women are available).

Since 1985, the median age of New Zealand women giving birth has risen from 27 years to 30 years. The median age of Māori women giving birth is younger but is also increasing (from 25 years in 1996 to 26 years in 2006).

New Zealand has a relatively high rate of childbearing at young ages compared with most other developed countries. At 28.7 births per 1,000 females aged 15–19 years in 2006, the New Zealand teenage birth rate is slightly higher than the rate in the United Kingdom (26.3 per 1,000 in 2005) but considerably lower than that of the United States (40.4 per 1,000 in 2005). New Zealand teenage birth rates have risen slightly in recent years but are below the rates of a decade ago. The birth rate for women aged 15–17 years was 18.0 births per 1,000 females in 1996, and 15.9 per 1,000 in 2006. The rate for young Māori is higher but has fallen faster over the same period (from 48.3 to 39.6 births per 1,000 15–17 year old females). The birth rate for Pacific females under 18 years declined from 28.2 to 22.9 per 1,000 between 1995–1997 and 2000–2002.