WellUrban

Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Young Wellington


One of the trends that the Wellington Regional Strategy is intended to address is the loss of people in the 25-45 age group as young people go on their OE and decide to stay. The release of regional demographic data from this year's census provides an opportunity to examine the age structure across the Wellington region and see how things are looking in this regard. Here's a graph of the four urban councils plus the Kapiti Coast, with the NZ average shown in red for comparison:

Wellington region age structures in 2006The first thing to note is that the commuter cities (Porirua and the Hutts) are pretty similar to the national average, although Porirua has many more children and teenagers. I've shown Kapiti in grey, for very good reason: the stereotype of the Coast as one big retirement home is not far off the mark. But look at Wellington City! There's certainly no lack of 25-49 year olds at the moment, and in fact the proportion of twentysomethings is about 50% higher than the norm.

So I decided to look at the trends for just Wellington City, and found that there has already been a small decline in the proportion of 25-39 year olds, with just a slight increase in the number of 40-44 year olds. What's very striking, though, is the spike in the 20-24 age group:

Wellington City age structure trends 2001-2006Is this a surge in the number of postgraduate students? Weta's Wellywood workforce? A rush of hip urbanites zeroing in on a happening city? Or an influx of fresh young policy analysts brought in to feed Thorndon's insatiable appetite for unsullied youth? Whatever it is, it may help explain the continuing health of the hospitality sector, and if they stay on in Wellington rather than heading off for more lucrative overseas careers, perhaps Wellington City can help counteract the youth gap in other parts of the region.

Remember that these figures are for all of Wellington City Council, which includes places like Tawa, Churton Park and Newlands (not exactly known as magnets for people in their early twenties), so a similar graph for central Wellington should show the trend even more strongly. But if the planners behind the regional strategy want to retain these people as the future 25-49 workforce, perhaps there's one simple lesson: make the region more like Wellington City, and less like Kapiti.

6 Comments:

At 12:35 AM, December 12, 2006, Anonymous Adam said...

Sorry this is TOTTALY off topic, but i was wandering about how long it you to receive your registration email from "SkyScraperCity"- i am trying to become a member and it says that it has sent a conformation email but i haven't got it and its been two days now :( and help would be appreciated.

Adam

 
At 12:37 AM, December 12, 2006, Anonymous Adam said...

Ohh and I LOVE your blog!!! keep up the good work :D :D

 
At 9:02 AM, December 12, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Thanks, Adam. My registration email only took a few minutes to arrive, so if yours is taking so long I'd suspect something has gone wrong with teh process.

 
At 11:25 AM, December 13, 2006, Anonymous George Darroch said...

Perhaps its the young tourist population? All I can say is that the post-grad education options here are sadly not enough to keep me in the city I love!

Keep up with the keeping up the city, and I'll read this blog and feel homesick!

 
At 8:11 AM, December 16, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is striking though is that the Kapiti Coast is the mirror of the welligton graph. Kapiti Coast has a big hole in the 20 - 30 year groups. But then is that they come back to the coast to have their families, that causes the sudden shift, back up in the age profiles.

What would be interesting to see a comparison of the Kapiti age profiles, I suspect that you might find that there is a decline in the greying of the population, especially once the links with Wellington become better. Roll on Transmission Gully and double tracking the rail-line, and the the Kapiti Western Link Road.

 
At 10:21 AM, December 18, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

George: "Perhaps its the young tourist population". Quite possibly. I should compare the "census night" and "usually resident" counts for different age brackets, and if the former is higher than the latter for young people, that could be an explanation.

Anon: "Kapiti Coast has a big hole in the 20 - 30 year groups. But then is that they come back to the coast to have their families, that causes the sudden shift, back up in the age profiles." Very likely. It's a little bit like central London, which has always been described as a young person's town.

"you might find that there is a decline in the greying of the population, especially once the links with Wellington become better."

Possibly, though I'm not sure that young people without dependents would shoose to live out there, even with significantly better transport.

"Roll on Transmission Gully and double tracking the rail-line, and the the Kapiti Western Link Road." I agree with the rail line, but not with Transmission Gully. Perhaps it's just as well that there aren't so many young people in Kapiti: at least the retirees aren't commuting every day, and the last thing we need is a flood of extra cars coming into the city. I'd say that a higher priority would be to increase the stock of affordable, family-friendly medium-density housing on the city fringes and along the J'ville-CBD-airport spine, so that young families don't have to move out to the boondocks.

 

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