New Zealand census leads to calls for increased immigration

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New Zealand's most read newspaper, The New Zealand Herald, has called on the government to dramatically increase the level of immigration to help the economy. In an editorial comment piece, the paper says that, unless the country increases the rate of immigration substantially now, it may prove harder to attract immigrants seeking economic opportunity in New Zealand in future.

New Zealand generally holds a census once every five years. It was due to hold a census in 2011 when the Christchurch earthquake occurred. The census was delayed by two years until 2013.

The headline figure showed that the population of the country had grown by 5.3% over the previous seven years, at a rate of 0.7% a year to 4,242,048. This rate of growth is half that between 2001 and 2006. The Herald says that this shows that the country is failing to do enough to attract immigrants.

NZ population ageing

The census shows that the population is ageing. The median age is now 38.0 years, up by two years on the 2006 census. The Herald says that this too is a cause for concern. 14.3% of the population are now aged 65 or over and more than 73,000 were aged over 85, up 29.4% since 2006.

Worryingly for the future of the economy, there are fewer children than in 2006. In 2006, 21.5% of the population was aged under 15 867,576 people. In 2013, only 20.4% of the population was under 15; 865,632 people.

The ethnic composition of the country has changed since 2006. Europeans and Maoris were the two largest groups. Nearly 3m people were of European descent. Nearly 600,000 people identified themselves as Maoris.

Asian population up by a third

The number of people identifying themselves as 'Asian' increased sharply from about 9% to about 12%. In the Auckland area, Asians now comprise nearly a quarter of the population. China and India are the main source countries. 89,121 people born in China and 67,176 people born in in India now live in New Zealand. There are also sizeable Korean and Filipino communities.

England still provides by far the most migrants to New Zealand of any country. 225,589 people born in England now live in New Zealand; 21.5% of all immigrants. A further 25,953 (2.6%) came from Scotland.

The New Zealand Herald says that the fact that the UK, the US and Australia are now taking steps to limit immigration may provide New Zealand with an opportunity to become larger and more successful.

New Zealand's opportunity

It says 'Australia, Britain and the United States have been such magnets for migrants that all now are taking steps to curb the flow. Yet history shows Britain and the United States prospered most when their attitude was more liberal. This could be New Zealand's opportunity'.

But, to take advantage of this opportunity, the paper says, New Zealand has to raise its immigration level substantially. The newspaper argues that a growing population leads to more opportunities including more job opportunities.

This makes New Zealand a more attractive destination for immigrants.

Immigration will attract immigration

With a bigger population entrepreneurs are more likely to be drawn to New Zealand to try to make their fortune there creating yet more job opportunities for locals and immigrants. If there is little population growth then the country will be less attractive to migrants.

'Migrants need to see business opportunities and jobs here. Faster population growth is needed to attract them. Slow growth runs the risk that steadily fewer will come'.

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