Older people in New Zealand

As with many developed countries, our population is ageing. This summary looks at some of the key statistics for older people living in New Zealand today and in the future.

An ageing population

The number of people aged 65 years and over is expected to double to around 1.2 million by 2035 - almost a quarter of our population. In 20 years, there will be 370,000 people over 80 years of age- an increase of 130 percent.

The graph below shows the changes from 1994 until 2064 for each age group.

This graph shows the changes from 1994 until 2064 for each age group.

Standard of living for older people

Of all ages, older people are the least likely to be in hardship. For those currently aged 65 and over, the combination of universal New Zealand Superannuation and mortgage-free home ownership have led to lower rates of hardship.

Older people are contributing more to the economy

Older people are key contributors to our economy and our communities. They are skilled workers, volunteers, caregivers, mentors and leaders. They continue to make a large economic contribution as business leaders, taxpayers and consumers. It is important to ensure that there are a range of choices and opportunities to meet the diverse needs of older people in New Zealand.

As the population ages, more people are choosing to stay in the workforce past 65. Currently 22 percent of people over 65 are engaged in some form of paid work, and this is projected to increase to 32 percent in 20 years time. This means that valuing the contribution of older people is becoming more important than ever.

Older workers have many positive attributes

A survey by District Health Board and Crown Research Institute employers and workers show that there are many positive attributes shown by older workers. These include being:

  • as or more productive than younger workers
  • good mentors
  • better at staying calm in a crisis.

While many employers are aware of the ageing workforce, the majority of workplaces are not planning for an ageing workforce. Ageism in the workforce was also found to be high.

The survey was jointly conducted by the Office for Senior Citizens and the Human Rights Commission in 2014.