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Over the next 20 years, those aged 65+ years will account for over two-thirds of New Zealand’s population growth (medium variant). Under the high variant assumptions, the proportion would be lower, at 47 per cent, while under the low variant assumptions, those aged 65+ would account for 146 per cent of growth.

At territorial authority area (TA) level, where population ageing has its local impact, the trends tell an even more profound story; one of disproportionate growth at 65+ years either offsetting, or failing to offset, decline at most younger ages—in the latter case leading to overall depopulation. Under the medium variant assumptions, only 14 TAs (21 per cent) are projected to experience growth at both 0-19 and 20-64 years in addition to that at 65+ years, over the next 20 years.

These maps illustrate the trends at TA level for the period 2018-2038, broken down into the two decades 2018-2028 and 2028-2038. Data are provided under Statistics New Zealand’s high, medium and low assumptions. Blue colours indicate overall decline, reds and yellows indicate growth, each shade illustrating the relative role of growth at 65+ years vis-à-vis change at 0-19 and 20-64 years.

These trends have significant implications for a broad range of policies and policy development that must urgently take account of, and be oriented towards, subnational diversity. Among these considerations for example must be local government rating frameworks. The ageing-driven growth of the 21st Century is very different to the youth-driven growth of the 20th Century. Whether population growth is achieved solely by growth at 65+ years, or depopulation occurs but is reduced by growth at 65+ years, the overarching reality is that those over 65 years will not be able to underwrite the increases in rates that will be needed going forward. Only a handful of TAs sit outside these realities. See for additional detail.