National, the party of beneficiary bashing, is on a crusade against parents on the DBP. It’s horrifying quite how open they are about it:
Beneficiaries having babies ‘reason’ for reform
As the second round of welfare reforms come back before Parliament, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says the 650 children born to women already claiming a benefit in January are reason enough for her tough reforms. …
The Government has been slammed for cracking down on youth and sole-parent beneficiaries when the unemployment rate is soaring because there aren’t enough jobs. Opponents argue that rather than picking on the vulnerable, the Government should focus on boosting the economy.
But Bennett is unapologetic about the welfare reforms, which are midway through implementation. And she said the focus on sole mothers and young people was deliberate.
Got that? Putting the most vulnerable under even more pressure is deliberate. The opposition parties said what needed saying about that:
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said sole parents and their children were being demonised by the reforms. “Welfare reforms that punish these women for having children are a complete distraction from Government’s failure to provide jobs,” she said.
Labour’s social development spokesman Jacinda Ardern said she got many letters from sole parents who were struggling to find work. “This set of reforms will do absolutely nothing to improve their job prospects through either training or education, or by addressing the underlying issues of the inavailability of work, particularly work that suits their childcare needs.” The reforms did little more than respond to rhetoric, she said.
So much so business as usual for the Nats, who prefer extending the helping hand of the state to needy investors and farmers than to the disadvantaged and children. But there’s more. Look at these numbers:
There were 659 subsequent children born to parents already claiming a benefit this January, she said. …
Meanwhile, in 2010 more than 7.5 per cent of live births – 4800 of 63,900 – were babies born to solo parents on the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) and Emergency Maintenance Allowance.
Note that we expect about 7.5% of births to DPB parents (from 2010 data), a rate that is increasing slowly according to this report p8 (e.g. 1997 was 5.8%). So what percentage does the 659 births in January 2013 constitute? Using the rate of births to DPB parents (compared to other benefits) from the report just noted we can estimate that of the 659 births 575 were to DPB parents. Looking at births by month for the most recent 42 months (data below) we see an average of 5,189 births per month (with no noticeable variations for Januaries). So we can estimate 575 / 5189 = 11%.
(Note that these are all raw numbers, and the number of parents on the DPB is dropping fast, so we would expect the percentage of children born to DPB parents in a given month to be falling, not rising.)
So births to DPB parents in January constitute an estimated 11% of births for the month, if that continues for the year it compares to the 2010 annual average of 7.5%. That’s a – remarkable – jump (when it should be falling). Why?
Under changes introduced last October, those mothers will have to return to work when that child is 12 months old, if their older children are aged over five.
DPB parents are going to be forced to look for jobs that aren’t there, and in some cases punished when they don’t find them. Unless they have children of certain ages. Have the Nats’ “reforms” built in an inventive for parents on the DPB to have more children?
I’m cautious of this conclusion for (at least) three reasons. First, demographics and stats aren’t my fields and I could be missing something obvious about the NZ data (please correct me if I am). Second, we’re looking at data for just one month, which could be an outlier. And third, the apparent surge in DPB births is correlated with the introduction of the Nats’ punitive new regime, and correlation does not mean causation. But on this occasion I think that correlation is waving a big red flag, and backed up by a plausible hypothesis. The Nats hate the cost of supporting vulnerable children, but it seems that thanks to their punitive efforts there are going to be more of them…
Data from Statistics New Zeland, Live births by month for 2009 M01 (January) to 2012 M06 (June) (the latest available data).