How we die

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These stream graphs explore how likely a person is to die of different causes at different times in their lives. The top chart shows female New Zealanders and the lower chart represents males.

New Zealand’s infant mortality rate is low by global standards (3.8 deaths per 1000 live births in 2018). Nearly half of infant deaths are related to conditions originating during the perinatal period (up to the 28th day after birth). The most common specified causes of infant death are disorders related to short gestation and low birthweight.

Between the ages of five and 35 external causes pose the greatest risk. This includes accidents, assaults and self-harm. The trend is more pronounced in males, peaking in their teens and early 20s.

From a person’s 30s, cancer and conditions relating to the heart, lungs and respiratory system become more common. Conditions relating to the degradation of mental faculties, such as dementia, are a risk for people who survive beyond their 70s.

Take care interpreting these charts, as they show percentages rather than absolute counts. Although the percentage of people dying from cancer declines after the age of 60, the absolute number of cancer deaths keeps climbing.

How to read

The charts show how many people died of a particular cause as a per cent of all people who died at that age. Coloured strips represent causes of death. People who died young are shown on the left side of the chart while older people are on the right.

The percentages are based on 11 years of mortality count records (2006-16).