Report starts with wrong measure

The Child Poverty Monitor starts with the wrong measure when it declares that 25% of children are living in poverty.

In 2012, 265,000 children aged 0–17 years lived in poverty (using the <60% contemporary median after housing costs measure). This equated to 25% of all New Zealand children.

  • During 2010 to 2012 (using the AHC 60% fixed line measure), around 30% of Māori and 30% of Pacific children lived in poor households, as compared to 15% of European children.

Sixty percent of the median income is the wrong measure.

By using that definition the simplest way to fix the problem is to drag down higher incomes which would do nothing to solve the poverty of the problems associated with it.

Child poverty rates were also higher for younger children (0–6 years and 7–11 years vs.12–17 years), larger households (3+ children vs. 1–2 children), sole parent households (vs. two parent households) and for those in households where no adults were in paid work or where none worked full time (vs. self-employed or 1+ full time).

Poverty rates are higher in households reliant on benefits than those where at least one adult was in full time paid work.

If the 60% of median income is used that will always be the case because Working for Families means people earn more in full time work than they could on a benefit.

However, there is good evidence that children in families on the same income have worse outcomes if that income is from a benefit than if it comes from work.

There is a problem of poverty in New Zealand but it won’t be fixed by using the wrong measure nor will it be fixed by making it easier for people who could work to stay on benefits.


3 Responses to Report starts with wrong measure

  1. Dave Kennedy says:

    It does seem peculiar that the Government refuses to measure poverty in a transparent way and yet criticizes those who attempt to fill the void by doing so. Given the seriousness of the problem and the fact it is growing (using whatever measure) what do you suggest we do? Most of the Government’s initiatives are dealing to the symptoms of poverty, not the causes.

  2. Armchair Critic says:

    The definition used, 60% of the median wage, is better than any definition the National government have, because they have nothing.

  3. Paranormal says:

    We don’t have monetary poverty in New Zealand, but there appears to be a poverty of human spirit.

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