Simon Collins

Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Census 2013: Our changing nation

Photo / Natalie Slade
Photo / Natalie Slade

The typical Kiwi on Census day 2013 was aged 38, earned $28,500 a year, worked in a service job and owned his or her own home.

Three-quarters were European, even though the Asian population has doubled in 12 years to an eighth of the population, while Maori remained a stable one-seventh. A quarter of the population, including nearly 40 per cent of Aucklanders, were born overseas. But in many ways the changes were not as big as expected.

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Home ownership fell marginally despite a seven-year gap since the last Census, couples were slightly more likely to stay together, and more people stayed in the same place they were in seven years ago.

Renting for longer

Home ownership declined to the lowest level since 1951, but the decline was less dramatic than expected given the huge escalation in house prices during the past decade. The figures are blurred by the fact that more than one in every seven homes (14.8 per cent) is now owned by a family trust.

But the proportion of homes owned either by the occupants directly or by their family trusts fell only from 66.9 per cent in 2006 to 64.8 per cent. Even in Auckland, where house prices are highest, home ownership (including family trusts) slid only modestly from 63.8 per cent to 61.5 per cent. The ownership rate was lower in Auckland than in any other region except Gisborne, but this partly reflects the region's younger-than-average age structure.

Staying Together

This year's census confirms the first tentative sign in the 2006 census that the long-term increase in sole-parenting in the quarter-century to 2001 has now turned into a slight downward trend. The long-term data counts only families with dependent children, whereas the preliminary Census data includes working children still living at home. Sole-parent families declined slightly from 31 per cent of all families with children in 2001 to 30.1 per cent this year. The ageing population means that there has been a slight increase in couples without children and single people living alone.

Mobile phones chase landlines

New Zealand homes are now almost equally likely to have a mobile phone (83.7 per cent) as a landline (85.5 per cent). The share of homes with landlines dropped almost 8 per cent from 91.6 per cent in 2006. Internet access increased, but surprisingly only from 60.5 per cent of homes in 2006 to 76.8 per cent. The highest internet access rate is in Auckland (81.6 per cent) and the lowest is in Gisborne (63.3 per cent).

More Asian Ethnic groups as % of population

Almost one in every eight New Zealanders (11.9 per cent) is now Asian, up from 9.2 per cent seven years ago. An official "white New Zealand" policy kept Asians under 1 per cent of the population throughout the period of European colonisation until a policy change in the 1980s opened the door to a dramatic influx from Asia.

Two-thirds of the country's Asians live in Auckland, where almost one in every four Aucklanders (23.1 per cent) is Asian, up from 18.9 per cent in 2006.

But Asians are significant minorities in Wellington (10.5 per cent) and in Canterbury and the Waikato (both 6.9 per cent).

Maori still outnumber Asians in every region except Auckland. The Maori share of the national population has risen consistently in every Census except one since the 1950s, more than doubling from 6.3 per cent in 1956 to 14.9 per cent this year.

People at the same address as 5 years ago

New Zealand's population growth slowed from 1.5 per cent a year between the 2001 and 2006 censuses to an average 0.7 per cent a year in the past seven years, as the recession that has dominated the period since 2008 drove more New Zealanders across to Australia. But the recession also made those who stayed in New Zealand more likely to stay in the same house.

Almost half (49.4 per cent) of us were at the same address in this year's Census as we were in 2008, sharply reversing a trend towards increased mobility over the previous three censuses.

Getting older: Our median age

The typical New Zealander is now a full decade older than a generation ago. The median age has increased from 28 in 1981, and just under 36 in the last Census, to 38. The age structure still has the same "bite" out of the middle in the 25 to 40 age group, reflecting the numbers of young Kiwis who have gone overseas. The 15 to 40 age group fell from 20.3 per cent of the population in 2006 to 18.4 per cent. The "man drought" in that age group is unchanged from the 2006 census, with 110 young women for every 100 men. Children under 15 dropped slightly from 21.5 per cent in 2006 to 20.4 per cent.

Those living in NZ and born overseas

One in every four New Zealanders (25.2 per cent) on Census day was born overseas. This is one of the highest shares of overseas-born people of any country in the world, just ahead of Australia in its 2011 Census (24.6 per cent) and only slightly behind Switzerland and Israel (both 26 per cent). New Zealand's overseas-born population was held at around 14 per cent for 30 years until the immigration gates were opened in the 1980s. New Zealanders are still more likely to have been born in Europe , but Europe's lead has narrowed dramatically from 68,600 in 2006 to just 20,200.

Most common languages spoken

Hindi speakers have trebled since 2001 from 22,750 to 66,300, overtaking French to become our fourth most spoken language. English is still by far our most widely spoken language (96.1 per cent), followed a long way behind by Maori (3.7 per cent), Samoan (2.2 per cent) and Hindi (1.7 per cent). The Census lists 139,638 people (3.3 per cent) speaking a variety of Chinese languages, but they are listed separately as Mandarin/northern Chinese, Cantonese/southern Chinese and just "Chinese" and the total figure may double-count people who speak more than one of these languages.

Education: Women pull ahead

The census confirms that we are all becoming more highly qualified, but women are becoming more qualified faster than men. The proportion of women aged 15-plus with degrees or equivalent surpassed men for the first time in 2006 and pulled further ahead this year to 19.4 per cent, now well above 16.1 per cent of men.

Income: Men still rule

Men, however, still have much higher median incomes ($36,500) than women ($23,100), reflecting the fact that women are still more likely to spend more time than men on unpaid childminding. The gap between male and female median incomes has narrowed only slightly from 39 per cent in 2006 to 37 per cent.

- NZ Herald

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