Going for broke

It has been over a year since I posted here, and suffice to say, unfortunately very little has changed on the population front in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

The Labour-led Government, while making some noises about reducing immigration levels and moving away from an economy that relies on population growth for GDP growth – both prior to, and at times since the election in 2017 – has done very little to alter the course we are racing along to a bigger and bigger population.

New Zealand’s rate of population growth is still one of the highest in the developed world. At around 2% per annum over past few years our population growth rate looks more like that of a developing country. Net-migration, while making a slight dip in mid-2018, is up again and has been running near record levels for the last few months. With around 50,000 new migrants added per annum and a natural increase of around 30,000 per annum, our population grows at a rate of a new city the size of Palmerston North every year.

In 2016, Stats NZ projected New Zealand to reach a population of 5 million mid-2020. I suspect that we are about there already. However, with inaccurate census data and a recent change in how permanent migration is measured, we are unlikely to know until after the occurrence.

In 2012 I blogged that Stats NZ has consistently under-projected population growth since 2001 and that our population has been growing at, or above, the upper-range of their projections. Yes, they are projections not predictions, however most New Zealanders have no idea of how fast our population is growing. At current rates of growth, we will have a population of 6 million by 2030 and 7 or 8 million by 2050. Auckland will have a population of well over 2 million by 2030 and, if Aucklander’s don’t begin to leave the city for other parts of the country even faster than they are now, it will have a population of 3 or 4 million by 2050.  These outcomes do not appear to being planned for, nor is there much discussion of the social, environmental and economic consequences of such population growth.

I for one do not believe that population growth, whether it is driven by natural increase or immigration, is sustainable socially, environmentally or economically. It can give the appearance of things going great for a limited amount of time, however, in the long run – just like another fool gambling his life-savings away – it will lead to us all going broke.

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