Poverty stats government’s shame

April 3, 2019

The nine child poverty statistics that will be used as the baseline for improvement show released yesterday by Stats NZ show all but one have got worse under the current government:

David Farrar compares the stats under National and Labour:

  1. Percentage of children in households with income under 50% of median, before housing costs. 156,000 in June 2008 and 156,000 in June 2017 so no increase under National (rate dropped 0.3%). In June 2018 increased by 27,000 and rate increased 2.3% for Labour’s first year.
  2. Percentage of children in households with income under 50% of median, after housing costs. 329,000 in June 2009 (no data for 2008) and 247,000 in June 2017 so a drop of 82,000 under National (rate dropped 8.1%). In June 2018 increased by 7,000 and rate increased 0.4% for Labour’s first year.
  3. Percentage of children in households in material hardship. 196,000 in June 2013 (no data before that) and 140,000 in June 2017 so dropped 56,000 under National (rate dropped 5.4%). In June 2018 increased by 8,000 and rate increased 0.6% for Labour’s first year.
  4. Percentage of children in households with income under 60% of median, before housing costs. 252,000 in June 2008 and 243,000 in June 2017 so a drop of 9,000 under National (rate dropped 1.3%). In June 2018 increased by 38,000 and rate increased 3.2% for Labour’s first year.
  5. Percentage of children in households with income under 60% of median, after housing costs. 355,000 in June 2008 and 314,000 in June 2017 so a drop of 41,000 under National (rate dropped 4.6%). In June 2018 increased by 27,000 and rate increased 2.2% for Labour’s first year.
  6. Percentage of children in households with income under 50% housing costs for the base financial year. 258,000 in June 2008 and 236,000 in June 2017 so a drop of 22,000 under National (rate dropped 2.5%). In June 2018 increased by 18,000 and rate increased 1.4% for Labour’s first year.
  7. Percentage of children in households with income under 40% housing costs for the base financial year. 156,000 in June 2008 and 178,000 in June 2017 so an increase of 22,000 under National (rate increased 1.6%). In June 2018 dropped by 4,000 and rate dropped 0.4% for Labour’s first year.
  8. Percentage of children in households in severe material hardship. 84,000 in June 2013 (no data before that) and 74,000 in June 2017 so dropped 10,000 under National (rate dropped 1.0%). In June 2018 dropped by 9,000 and rate dropped 0.9% for Labour’s first year.
  9. Percentage of children in households in material hardship and under 60% median income after housing costs. 96,000 in June 2013 (no data before that) and 86,000 in June 2017 so dropped 10,000 under National (rate dropped 1.1%). In June 2018 increased by 12,000 and rate increased 1.0% for Labour’s first year. . .

Who would have thought it? Seven of the child poverty measures dropped under National, one was static and one went up.

And under the Labour/NZ First/Green government that purports to be compassionate and set reducing child poverty as a priority?

Seven of the child poverty measures worsened and only two improved.

What’s behind the difference?

Former Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bill English was determined to search out the risk factors which lead to poverty and the disastrous social outcomes that usually accompany it.

Having found them he used the social investment approach – spending more upfront on helping those most at risk. The higher short-term cost was justified by the expected reduction in the long-term human, social and financial costs should those at risk not be helped.

The compassionate and intelligent response of the Labour/NZ First/Green government would have been to continue and build on what was working.

The failure to do so is this government’s shame.

Instead it sabotaged business confidence, wasted money on policies including fee-free tertiary education and winter heating subsidies for people who don’t need them, and got soft on policies that used both carrot and stick for those who could be working but don’t.

Early days is no excuse, this government is almost half way through it’s first term.

It can’t blame National for what’s going wrong when under it, seven of the measures were improving, one was static and just one was going the wrong way.

The government has only itself and its ideological blindness to blame which will be no comfort at all to the families whose situation has worsened.

Lindsay Mitchell blogs on the causes of poverty:

The Canadian think-tank, the Fraser Institute has just released a paper which suggests an elegantly simple framework in finding three causes of poverty: bad luck, bad choices and enablement. The first two need no explanation. The third is described thus:

We can say that poverty is “enabled” when systems and structures are in place to discourage the kinds of efforts that people would normally make to avoid poverty, i.e., find employment, find a partner (especially if children are present), improve one’s education and skill set, have a positive outlook, and take personal responsibility for your own actions. Ironically, it is government programs (welfare, in particular) that are intended to help the poor but end up actually enabling poverty.

In NZ, many of our current influencers (MPs and media) pooh,pooh the idea that bad choices are responsible for poverty despite this being self-evident. They base their disdain for the idea on a belief that greater systems, for example institutional racism, drive bad choices. Of course when they do this they excuse bad choices and even compensate the person making them. Undoubtedly, most of those sitting on the Welfare Expert Advisory Group would hold views of his nature. . . 

The soft bigotry of low expectations is not a cliche, it’s a fact.

This government’s low expectations are enabling poverty and turning around the improvements that National’s policy of social investment were making.


We’re free!

January 10, 2013

New Zealand has topped the Human Freedom Index:

Until now, no global index measuring human freedom consistent with a classical liberal approach has existed. Today, as part of the Human Freedom project sponsored by Cato, the Fraser Institute, and the Liberales Institut, . . .

Using indicators consistent with the concept of negative liberty—the absence of coercive constraint—we have tried to capture the degree to which people are free to enjoy classic liberties in each country: freedom of speech, religion, individual economic choice, and association and assembly. The freedom index is composed of 76 distinct variables including measures of safety and security, freedom of movement, and relationship freedoms such as assembly or legal discrimination against gays.

In this preliminary index New Zealand ranks as the most free country in the world, followed by the Netherlands and then Hong Kong. Australia, Canada, and Ireland follow, with the United States ranking in 7th place. . . .

The index is a chapter in Towards a Worldwide Index of Human Freedom (.pdf) (published by Fraser and Liberales) which has the following table. It shows the rankings, the numbers are the ratings for personal freedom, economic freedom and the freedom index:

1 New Zealand 9.2 8.22 8.73
2 Netherlands 9.5 7.45 8.47
3 Hong Kong 7.8 9.02 8.39
4 Australia 8.8 7.83 8.33
5 Canada 8.7 7.92 8.33
6 Ireland 9.0 7.68 8.33
7 United States of America 8.7 7.93 8.30
8 Denmark 8.9 7.71 8.30
9 Japan 9.2 7.38 8.28
10 Estonia 8.9 7.65 8.28
11 Switzerland 8.6 7.96 8.26
12 Norway 9.2 7.34 8.26
13 Finland 8.8 7.54 8.16
14 Austria 8.7 7.59 8.13
15 Luxembourg 8.7 7.53 8.12
16 Chile 8.2 7.99 8.12
17 Iceland 9.0 7.16 8.10
18 United Kingdom 8.4 7.78 8.08
19 Slovakia 8.6 7.57 8.07
20 Costa Rica 8.8 7.35 8.05
21 El Salvador 8.5 7.58 8.04
22 Uruguay 9.4 6.67 8.03
23 Spain 8.8 7.19 8.00
24 Albania 8.6 7.38 7.98
25 Portugal 8.9 7.08 7.97
26 Bahamas 8.8 7.08 7.94
27 Malta 8.8 7.06 7.94
28 Panama 8.5 7.32 7.92
29 Sweden 8.6 7.26 7.91
30 Mauritius 8.1 7.61 7.88
31 Hungary 8.4 7.39 7.87
32 Belgium 8.5 7.14 7.83
33 France 8.4 7.20 7.78
34 Czech Republic 8.7 6.88 7.78
35 Germany 8.0 7.47 7.75
36 Guatemala 8.3 7.15 7.73
37 Poland 8.6 6.88 7.73
38 Peru 8.0 7.36 7.68
39 Singapore 6.6 8.75 7.67
40 Italy 8.5 6.75 7.62
41 Lithuania 8.2 7.03 7.61
42 Bulgaria 8.0 7.18 7.60

43 Slovenia 8.5 6.61 7.56
44 Korea, Republic of 7.7 7.33 7.53
45 Cyprus 7.6 7.50 7.53
46 Jamaica 8.0 6.97 7.48
47 Taiwan 7.4 7.56 7.48
48 Latvia 7.9 6.98 7.44
49 Papua New Guinea 7.8 6.94 7.39
50 Brazil 8.5 6.18 7.35
51 Haiti 8.0 6.68 7.34
52 Honduras 7.5 7.12 7.31
53 Nicaragua 7.8 6.85 7.30
54 Paraguay 7.9 6.62 7.27
55 Ghana 7.3 7.17 7.23
56 Argentina 8.4 6.01 7.22
57 Croatia 7.9 6.54 7.20
58 Thailand 7.3 7.06 7.17
59 Guyana  7.6 6.74 7.16
60 Trinidad and Tobago  7.5 6.78 7.13
61 Fiji  7.7 6.56 7.11
62 Namibia  7.6 6.61 7.10
63 Belize  7.5 6.72 7.09
64 Bolivia  8.0 6.15 7.07
65 Greece  7.1 6.92 7.03
66 Romania  7.6 6.43 7.03
67 Philippines  7.3 6.76 7.02
68 Mexico  7.1 6.88 7.00
69 South Africa  7.3 6.55 6.94
70 Madagascar  7.5 6.28 6.88
71 Botswana  6.8 6.89 6.85
72 Dominican Republic  7.5 6.22 6.84
73 Ecuador  7.6 6.04 6.80
74 Bahrain  6.3 7.23 6.74
75 Oman  6.0 7.50 6.74
76 Barbados  7.4 5.97 6.68
77 Mali  7.2 6.15 6.66
78 Zambia  6.1 7.27 6.66
79 Ukraine  7.5 5.46 6.49
80 Rwanda  6.3 6.61 6.44
81 Colombia  6.6 6.24 6.41
82 Jordan  5.6 7.18 6.38
83 Turkey  5.8 6.91 6.37
84 Indonesia  6.2 6.49 6.36
85 Kuwait  5.2 7.50 6.35
86 United Arab Emirates  5.2 7.45 6.31

87 Benin  7.1 5.49 6.27
88 Malawi  6.6 5.95 6.27
89 Russia  5.9 6.57 6.25
90 Guinea-Bissau  7.4 4.93 6.15
91 Kenya  5.2 7.00 6.12
92 India  5.6 6.48 6.06
93 Morocco  5.8 6.29 6.04
94 Uganda  4.9 7.15 6.00
95 Tanzania  6.0 5.94 5.96
96 Egypt  5.0 6.82 5.93
97 Nepal  6.3 5.44 5.89
98 Senegal  6.2 5.56 5.88
99 Malaysia  5.0 6.71 5.84
100 China  5.1 6.44 5.76
101 Congo, Republic of  6.7 4.77 5.73
102 Niger  6.1 5.35 5.71
103 Sierra Leone  6.0 5.37 5.68
104 Nigeria  5.4 5.93 5.68
105 Israel  4.4 6.86 5.60
106 Togo  5.5 5.62 5.54
107 Gabon  5.4 5.64 5.54
108 Cote d’Ivoire  5.3 5.67 5.48
109 Venezuela  6.5 4.35 5.42
110 Tunisia  4.7 6.00 5.36
111 Bangladesh  4.7 5.95 5.31
112 Central African Republic  5.2 5.16 5.18
113 Chad  4.8 5.35 5.07
114 Cameroon  4.2 5.86 5.03
115 Burundi  5.2 4.65 4.93
116 Iran  3.6 6.08 4.83
117 Algeria  4.5 5.02 4.77
118 Congo, Democratic Republic of  4.7 4.84 4.76
119 Syria  4.3 5.07 4.67
120 Sri Lanka  3.4 5.89 4.64
121 Pakistan  3.1 5.80 4.47
122 Burma  4.0 3.49 3.72
123 Zimbabwe  3.2 3.57 3.38
Average  7.1 6.7 6.9
Median  7.5 6.9 7.1

Offsetting Behaviour has a post on the index and Kiwi Freedom.


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