Keeping tabs on Christchurch’s population – update May 16
This article updates trends in the re-enrolment of school students from Christchurch and surrounding areas following the quake in February.
After consistently declining since mid-March, the number of student re-enrolments has spiked again following the school holidays in April. Total re-enrolments have now reached 10,206, up by 543 from before the school holidays. Graph 1 shows that total re-enrolments are now equivalent to 13.4% of students from the quake zone.
The start of the new school term has also seen a lift in the number of students returning to their original school, with 36% of re-enrolled students now back at the school they were attending before the quake. Once we account for re-enrolments within the quake zone and at correspondence school, Graph 2 shows that 6.3% of the quake zone’s school-age population is still in other parts of the country.
Our other graphs show little change in the regional population trends over the last few weeks. Christchurch now has the highest number of re-enrolled students who are still away from their original school. This figure reflects population movements within the city, with people moving away from the more heavily affected eastern suburbs. Since our last update in mid-April, Christchurch and Waimakariri are the only areas to have recorded a definite increase in the number of re-enrolled students that are still away from their original school.
The latest data also shows that 38.1% of students whore-enrolled within the South Island have now returned to their original school, compared with a 28.3% return rate from the North Island. The South Island figure is significantly higher if the quake zone is excluded, highlighting the temporary nature of many re-enrolments within the South Island, compared with (at this stage) more permanent re-enrolments within Christchurch.
International migration data for March has confirmed our view that permanent departures from the quake zone would spike following the disaster. The number of permanent departures from Christchurch, Waimakariri and Selwyn was up 686 people, or 115%, from March last year. Permanent arrival numbers were also lower. Once we adjust for the nationwide trend in net migration, which has been weakening since early 2010, we estimate that the quake had lowered net migration by about 675 people by the end of March.
Temporary departure numbers for people heading overseas from the quake zone also rose sharply in March and were up 36% from a year ago. We estimate that around 6,300 more people from the area headed overseas for a holiday in March than would have otherwise been the case. As we mentioned in our previous update, it is possible that some proportion of people intending to leave for less than 12 months do not end up returning to New Zealand. However, with a lack of regional data available on holiday makers returning to the country, we are unable to quantify this effect.