A baby bulge which resulted in a strong rise in births during the past five years may be running out of steam, with quake-damaged Canterbury particularly hard hit.
New figures from Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) show the rate at which New Zealand woman are having babies has fallen to its lowest level for almost a decade.
There were 61,031 live births in the year to June. That is down 2.6 per cent from around 62,650 a year earlier, and down from the peak so far this century of nearly 64,150 in 2008.
The latest figure is the lowest since the 58,250 births in the June 2006 year. The highest number of births ever recorded in any June year was more than 66,100 in 1962, when the country's population was just 2.5 million, compared to 4.4 million now.
In the latest year, the crude birth rate dropped to 13.8 per thousand population. That was lower than all but two years since the year 2000, with the peak in that time being 15.09 in 2008. The fertility rate dropped to 2.05, the lowest level since 2006.
In Canterbury, the number of births was down 586 or 8 per cent from a year earlier to 6506. That was the lowest number since 2003, and well down on the high point during the past decade of 7350 in the June 2010 year.
The 22,820 births in Auckland was marginally up from a year earlier, and better than all but two years in the 21st century so far.
Other regions were down or just marginally ahead of a year earlier, although most still had more annual births than during the first half of the past decade.
Wellington took a knock, 300 lower than a year earlier at 6414.
The number of deaths nationwide rose by 521 from a year earlier to 29,846 in the 12 months to June. That means the natural population increase was 31,185, the lowest number since 2006 but still better than any year between then and the start of the century.
Infant mortality was at its second lowest level ever of 4.65 per 1000 births. That was after the deaths of 284 children aged under one year of age during the year.
SNZ said the infant mortality rate had dropped from 29.1 in 1952, to 17 in 1972, 8.2 in 1992, and 5.7 in 2002.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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