Story: Pregnancy, birth and baby care

Changing family sizes

Changing family sizes

Until the 1870s birth rates were high. In 1878 there were almost nine births per married woman on average. The top photograph is of Alice and Charles Johnston and their nine children in about 1880. After 1880 birth rates began to fall. They reached a low point in the 1930s during the economic depression, when births fell below the population replacement level (2.1 births per couple). The bottom photograph shows the Newland family in 1923.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: PAColl-5564-003 (top); PAColl-6075-18 (bottom);

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Kerryn Pollock, 'Pregnancy, birth and baby care - Birth rates', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 15 July 2020)

Story by Kerryn Pollock, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 24 Oct 2018