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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1998 Apr;46(4):488-91.

A census-based comparison of centenarians in New Zealand with those in the United States.

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Princess Margaret Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand.



To describe the characteristics of New Zealand's centenarians, as given in the 1991 census, and to compare these characteristics with those of centenarians from the United States.


A census-based descriptive study.


The complete national population as defined by the 1991 New Zealand census.


In 1991, there were 246 female and 51 male centenarians in New Zealand. Fifty-one percent of the men and 29% of the women lived at home; 16% lived at home with someone else (55% with children). People who were widowed were more likely to be living in a residential institution (69%) than people who were married (40%). Forty-three percent of men and 39% of women earned less than NZ$10,000 per year. Most had no formal educational qualification. Fourteen percent of men and 35% of women living at home did housework in the previous week. Compared with the United States, there are fewer New Zealand centenarians per number of population. People of European race were overrepresented in the New Zealand centenarian population, whereas African Americans were overrepresented in the United States centenarian population.


Our data have shown the heterogeneity associated with extreme ageing and can be used as a basis for comparison with other countries.

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