19 May 2009

NZ birth rates highest for 18 years

3:49 pm on 19 May 2009

The number of babies being born in New Zealand has reached an 18-year high, Statistics New Zealand figures show.

The birth rate was 2.2 births per woman in the March 2009 year, the highest rate since March 1991.

However, the current birth rate is about half the peak of 4.3 births per woman, reached in 1961.

The statistics also show women are having children later in life than their counterparts in the 1960s.

The median age of women giving birth to their first child was 28 years old in the year to March 2009.

The number of registered deaths increased last year and is expected to continue to increase, surpassing 40,000 a year by 2031.

Life expectancy of New Zealanders is continuing to rise. A newborn girl can now expect to live an average of 82.2 years, while a newborn boy can expect to live an average of 78.2 years.