Population Ageing in New Zealand By Mansoor Khawaja Chief Demographer Statistics New Zealand
Population Ageing Myth or Reality?
FACTS VERSUS FICTION • ‘Population ageing is widely viewed as a serious problem or 'burden' over the coming decades.’ • ‘... a shrinking working-age population will be obliged to finance the pensions, health care and other services required by a burgeoning older population..… higher taxes!!!’ • ‘NZ Superannuation is generationally inequitable...!’ • ‘... this is a field in which speculation and well-researched facts are hard to separate.’
Aim • This presentation largely deals with the demographics of population ageing in New Zealand. The presentation includes: • historical context, • future prospects, and • an outline of the socio-demographic features of the older population.
An historical context • The population of New Zealand is ageing. • Its most documented feature is the growing size of the older population and its increasing share of the total population. • Other features include: a rise in the average age of population, a decreasing proportion of children (<15), and an ageing labour force. • The ageing process is neither a new demographic phenomenon nor is it unique to New Zealand.
An historical context (cont.) • In fact, population ageing in New Zealand, as in other developed countries, began over a century ago, with the onset of transition in fertility from relatively large to relatively small families. • At the dawn of the 20th century, we were a very young population in demographic terms. • Half of our population was below 23 years of age. • Children outnumbered the older population, (taken as those aged 65+ years) by 8 to 1.
An historical context (cont.) • Mortality was quite high by today's standards: almost 100 out of every 1,000 newborn babies used to die before reaching their first birthday. • The average life expectancy at birth for New Zealand men was about 57 years and for New Zealand women 60 years. • The 1901 Census of Population and Dwellings recorded 31,000 persons over the age of 64 years and they made up just 4 percent of the population.
An historical context (cont.) • Low fertility during the depression years of the 1930s and the ongoing improvement in life expectancy meant that by the 1946 Census our median age (half the population is below, and half above, this age) had risen by 7 years to 30 years. • The post-World War II "baby boom" reversed the ageing trend, but only temporarily.
An historical context (cont.) • The subsequent drop in fertility to sub-replacement level lifted the median age to a new high of 34 years in 1999, an overall increase of 11 years since 1900. • (The "replacement level" is the level of fertility required for a population to replace itself without migration. It is generally taken as 2.1 births per woman.)
Births by 10-year period Period Number Change (000) 1926-35 284 … 1936-45 350 66 1946-55 508 158 1956-65 617 109 1966-75 612 - 5 1976-85 518 - 94 1986-95 576 58
Past growth of the older population • Between 1901 and 1951, the number of New Zealanders aged 65+ years increased almost six-fold, from 31,000 to 177,000. • Over the next 48 years, it grew by another 151 percent to reach 446,000 in 1999. • This was much faster than for the rest of the population: for instance the number of children under 15 years and those in the working ages (15-64 years), increased by 54 and 109 percent respectively.
Past growth of the older population (cont.) • Reduction in mortality, especially in childhood mortality, and an improvement of almost 20 years in life expectancy at birth during the 20th century were important elements in the growth of the older population. • A newborn male in 1999 could expect to live on average 75 years and a newborn female about 80 years. • Also, more people are now surviving beyond 65 years of age.
Past growth of the older population (cont.) • Between 1950-52 and 1995-97, the expectation of life at age 65 years increased by 2.7 years for males and 4.2 years for females, to 15.5 and 19.0 years, respectively. • The share of New Zealand's population aged 65+ years has increased three-fold, from 4 percent in 1901 to 9 percent in 1946, and further to over 12 percent in 1999.
Long-term assumptions • Fertility (births per woman) • Low 1.60 • Medium 1.85 • High 2.10 • Life expectancy at birth (years) Male Female • Low mortality 84.5 88.0 • Medium mortality 82.5 86.5 • High mortality 80.5 85.0 • Annual net migration • 0, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000
Demographic outlook • The future demographic outlook for NZ is remarkably different, in terms of growth patterns, population dynamics and structural make-up, than that of the previous 100 years. • During the last century, the NZ population grew by almost 3 million at an average rate of 1.6% a year, with migration contributing about one-sixth of the total growth. • If fertility stays below replacement level and migration mirrors last century’s average annual gain of 5,000, then the growth rates will tumble and the population is unlikely to reach the 5 million mark.
Births and deaths, series 4, 1901-2101 Births (000) 1926-45 = 626 1946-65 = 1,116 1966-85 = 1,134 1986-05 = 1,131
Medium assumptions (series 4) • These observations draw on the 'medium' series of the 2001-base New Zealand population projections, which focus on the 50-year period to 2051. • This series assumes that during the projection period, life expectancy at birth for males will increase from 76.1 years to 82.5 years and for females from 81.0 years to 86.5 years (as a result of medical advances, changes in lifestyle, etc). • And, that there will be a net migration gain of 5,000 people per year (the annual average for the last 100 years).
Future prospects • Latest projections indicate that the population aged 65+ years is expected to grow by 116,000 between 2001 and 2011, to reach 577,000. • The pace of increase is projected to pick up after the year 2011, when the large baby boom generation begins to enter this age group. • For instance, between 2011 and 2021 the population aged 65+ years is projected to grow by 216,000 and in the following ten years by 256,000.
Population aged 65+ years Population Alternative Fertility Scenarios Ten-yearly Change Projection Series 4
Future prospects (cont.) • By 2051, there will be 1.22 million people aged 65+ years in New Zealand. • This represents an increase of 757,000 or 164 percent over the base (2001) population.
One in four of us will aged 65+ years • Those aged 65+ years are expected to make up 25 percent (or 1 in 4) of all New Zealanders (4.81 million) by 2051. • At present there are about half as many older New Zealanders as children. • By 2051, there are projected to be 62 percent more people aged 65+ years than children. • Given the prospects of sub-replacement fertility, increasing life expectancy and the passage of baby boomers into retirement ages, it is projected that half of all New Zealanders will be older than 45 years by 2051, compared with a median age of 35 years in 2001.
Ageing of the aged • The older group itself is ageing. • There will be about six times as many old-old (85+ years) in 2051 (294,000 people) as there were in 2001 (50,000 people). • In 2051 they will make up 24 percent of all New Zealanders aged 65+ years, compared with 11 percent in 2001. • The 85+ group will also account for 6 percent of all New Zealanders in 2051.
Ageing of the aged (cont.) • The significant growth of the old-old group has direct implications for health expenditure, because there is a significant rise in the incidence of disability with age, and an increased need for health treatment and care, and social services.
How reliable are these projections? • Some analysts have observed that as the people who will reach age 65 years during the projection period have already been born, their future numbers can be estimated fairly accurately. • However, this assumption is subject to some reservations because projections involve a number of unknowns. • For instance, a Statistics New Zealand report (1995) found that over a fifth of a million baby boomers had emigrated by 1991.
How reliable are these projections? (cont.) • Their return in the years ahead would boost the number of older people, as would any increase in immigrants resulting from changes in immigration policy. • Gains in life expectancy larger than those assumed here are likely to produce a similar effect.
Projected resident population in 2051, series 4 • Life expectancy at birth in 1996: • 74.3 years (Males), 79.5 years (Females) • Life expectancy assumed in 2051: • 1996-base projections: 81.0 years (M), 85.5 years (F) • 1999-base projections: 82.0 years (M), 86.5 years (F) • 2001-base projections: 82.5 years (M), 86.5 years (F)
International total fertility rate, 1996 Births per Country woman Spain 1.15 Italy 1.22 Japan 1.43 Switzerland 1.50 Netherlands 1.53 Scotland 1.55 Canada 1.59 Sweden 1.61 France 1.72 England and Wales 1.73 Denmark 1.75 Australia 1.80 Norway 1.89 NEW ZEALAND 1.96
Ageing and superannuation • In recent years there has been an intense debate about the implications of a burgeoning older population for social and economic planning, especially with regard to superannuation, health and other aged-care services. • Some have argued that "the structure and level of New Zealand superannuation benefits are both unsustainable and generationally inequitable" (Schaardenburg, 1999, p.42). • Such debates often draw on the projected changes in the ‘old age’ dependency ratio, which relates the 65+ population to those in 'working' ages (15-64 years).
Ageing and superannuation (cont.) • The ratio is projected to increase from the present 18 people aged 65+ per 100 people of working ages to 43 per 100 by 2051. (Projections indicate a drop in the child dependency ratio.) • The ratio is demographically-based, and is a crude measure of the possible dependency burden: for many people in the working-age group may not be in the labour force, while many aged 65+ may actually be working. • Others have argued for a less pessimistic approach as technological advances or people’s attitudes 20 or 50 years hence cannot be anticipated accurately.
Characteristics of the older population • The 65+ age group differs in its socio-demographic make-up from the rest of the population. • For instance there are marked differences in sex ratio, marital status, employment, living arrangements, income, geographical distribution, and spatial mobility. • Neither is the 65+ population a homogeneous group in terms of these characteristics or in their need for hospital treatment, community support services, or long-term residential care.
Sex ratio • Women outnumber men by a significant margin among the 65+ population and the gap widens as age increases. This is largely because they have lower mortality rates and live longer than men - by about 5.3 years, according to the 1995-97 New Zealand Life Tables. • In 1996, among those aged 65-74 years, 53 percent were women and 47 percent were men. In the oldest age group (85+ years), women outnumbered men by 5 to 2.
Sex ratio (cont.) • Because women have traditionally married men 2-3 years older than themselves, and because they outlive men, the incidence of widowhood increases rapidly with age among older women. • About one-third of women aged 65-74 are widowed. The corresponding figure for the 85+ age group is four-fifths.
Living arrangements • Older people differ in their living arrangements from the general population. • At the 1996 Census about 54 percent of older people lived with a spouse or a partner. • Because women have a longer life expectancy than men, and husbands are often older than their wives, gender differences are marked. • Two-thirds of older men and two-fifths of older women were living with a spouse/partner at the 1996 Census. By contrast, two-fifths of women, but under one-fifth of men lived alone.
Living arrangements (cont.) • The incidence of living without a partner increases with age. Among those aged 65-74 years, 3 out of 10 lived in one-person households. Among the old-old group (85+ years) the proportion was twice as high - 3 out of 5. • Women aged 85+ years are five times as likely to be living without a spouse or a partner, as men of the same age.
Housing • Older people are more likely than others to own their home. • At the 1996 Census, about 81 percent of 65-79 year olds owned their home, with or without a mortgage. • This equity provides older people with the flexibility to consider cost-effective accommodation options as they grow older, and the need for care and access to services become major concerns.
Employment • Few older people are in paid employment. • At the 1996 Census, just under 10 percent of older New Zealanders were in the labour force. • Over half of these worked on a part-time basis.
Employment (cont.) • The proportion of older people working part time nearly doubled from about 2.7 percent to over 5.0 percent during 1991-96. • Another important recent development has been the removal of the upper age limit for employment, which presumably acknowledges the 'value of mature workers to the national economic growth'. • Its long-term impact on the labour market will be of interest to policy makers.