How does Parliament compare to the adult population

I thought it would be interesting to compare the demographics of Parliament to the overall adult population, as so many in the media focus on this. The data for the NZ adult population comes from the 2018 census for gender, ethnicity and age and from the 2018 General Social Survey.

This Parliament is the most diverse one in history, and it is a good thing when Parliament looks like the people it represents.

So in terms of gender women are slightly under-represented. They are 48% of Parliament and 51% of the adult population. But 48% is a higher proportion than any other country in the OECD. Sweden is at 47%. We were at 41%.

In terms of ethnicity, Asians are most under-represented with 5% of MPs for 15% of the adult population. Next are Europeans who are 65% of MPs and 67% of adults. Most over-represented are Pasifika who have 10% of MPs for 6% of adult pop and Maori who have 20% of MPs for 12% of adult population.

By sexual orientation, bisexuals are most under-represented with 0.8% of Parliament for 1.9% of population. Straights are next most under-represented with 89% of MPs for 96.5% of adult pop. Gay and Lesbians both massively over-represented with 5.0% each for under 1% of the population. Overall 11% of Parliament are “rainbow” for 3.5% of the adult population. It should be noted though the GSS may undercount rainbow population as it is a face to face survey. However NZ Health Survey has similar numbers.

In terms of age under 30s are least represented with 3% of Parliament for 24% of adult population followed by over 60s who have only 8% of Parliament for 22% of adult population. Most over-represented are those in their 40% who have 38% of MPs for 18% of adult population.

Of course I don’t think anyone expects the age of MPs to exactly mirror the adult population, otherwise we would have lots of MPs in their 80s or even 90s!

People often assume that minority groups are automatically under-represented in Parliament. But in fact in New Zealand it is often the other way around.

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