Policymakers in New Zealand have been concerned by the teenage birth rate for many years. Cross-country comparisons indicate that New Zealand has a higher rate of teenage births than other comparable countries, except for the United States (see section 2 below). In 2012, in response to a ministerial request, the Families Commission contracted the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis (NIDEA) at the University of Waikato to analyse birth registration data and report on national and regional trends in teenage births for the ten year period 2002 to 2011. A key finding of this study was that the teenage birth rate in New Zealand declined significantly between 1962 and 1985 and then remained fairly stable. Rates rose slightly in the mid-2000s and fell back again.
In 2014, the Commission contracted NIDEA to update this analysis by including data for two additional years, 2012 and 2013 (where available), to examine current trends and any changes. An additional focus of the updated analysis has been to examine what factors may be contributing to the declining teenage birth rate.
This report addresses the following questions contained in the Families Commission proposal for the updated report:
- What are the current trends in teenage births?
- How have they changed over the longer term?
- How have they changed recently?
- Are there significant differences in these trends by area and ethnicity?
- Is the reduction consistent across ethnicities?
- How do these trends compare internationally?
- What might be driving these changes?
- What are the implications of these changes?