Capital full of childless 'power couples'

18:38, Oct 23 2012
 David Cormack
POWER CITY: David Cormack says Wellington is "a great place to be young and have an income".

Young "power couples" are keeping Wellington youthful - but they are not adding to the population.

Data published yesterday shows Wellington has one of the youngest populations in the country. But unlike other youthful centres, the number of children living in Wellington is below average.

The median age in the capital is 33.6 years, the Statistics New Zealand subnational population figures show.

For most centres with younger demographics, there is a high proportion of children, but Wellington bucks that trend, having only 17 per cent of people in the 0-15 age group, compared with 20 per cent nationally.

Instead, 43.8 per cent of the city's 202,200 people are aged between 15 and 39 - the largest proportion in the country.

Professor Jacques Poot, of the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis, said Wellington was experiencing the phenomenon of "power couples" - educated young professionals who partner up and live in the inner city, enjoying high disposable incomes. "They may postpone having children for quite some time."


Having two universities in the city, as well as opportunities for new graduates through the public service, meant Wellington was a popular place for young people to live, and many did not decide to reproduce until they had moved out of the city.

Communications worker David Cormack, 28, lives in Ngaio with his wife, and said people in Wellington were career-oriented, and the city was "a great place to be young and have an income".

As a result, many people delayed having children until their 30s.

"The first of my friends has just spawned and he's 35 . . . so we're all kind of observing to see how it goes."

While he and his wife would stay in Wellington if they had children, many friends thinking about starting families were buying houses in surrounding cities such as Porirua and Lower Hutt because they could get more for their money, he said.

In Lower Hutt, 21.8 per cent of the population is aged 0-15, and in Porirua, 24.6 per cent.

Wellington City Council social portfolio leader Stephanie Cook said she had noticed people moving to surrounding areas for cheaper houses, but Wellington was "leading the way in terms of families moving into inner-city apartments as well".

The youthful population could also be driven by older people leaving Wellington for lifestyle blocks in Kapiti and Wairarapa, she said.

Kapiti Coast was one of four areas to record more deaths than births in the past year, with 25 per cent of people older than 65, compared with 14 per cent nationally.

The population rose 0.6 per cent nationally - the smallest increase since 2001 - to 4,433,400. Overall, Wellington's population grew by about 1 per cent in the past year.

Around the region, Kapiti and Upper Hutt both grew by 0.2 per cent, to 49,900 and 41,600 respectively, and Porirua increased by 0.7 per cent to 73,000. Lower Hutt and South Wairarapa both decreased slightly.

Contact Katie Chapman
Wellington reporter
Twitter: @katiechapman28

The Dominion Post