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Killing our kids

Written By: - Date published: 7:42 am, December 10th, 2012 - 79 comments
Categories: Economy, unemployment, welfare - Tags:

Over at Stuff Ben Heather is reporting on the Children’s Social Health Monitor and the chilling fact that, in the last five years, 600 Kiwi children have died from poverty related causes.

Jacinda Adern makes it very clear what the cause is:

Let’s be clear, poverty is making our children sick. Now more than ever the Government needs to focus on reducing poverty rates. Until it does, we will all pay the price.

Adern is right, but it’s an indictment of our political discourse and the willful denial of the right that such a comment would even need to be made. Of course poverty is the problem (this will not, I suspect, prevent the usual right-wing punditry suspects from trying to undermine the CSHM – shooting the messenger is about all they’ve got left).

As a social democrat I believe it is the responsibility of the government to ensure full employment and, failing that, a decent quality of life for those who can’t work or can’t find work (note: while “decent” is subjective I think we can all agree that it doesn’t included 600 dead children). This government however, seems firmly of the opinion that intervening to lower the unemployment rate distorts the labour market.

While I disagree with this belief in a natural rate of unemployment I can understand how the market-minded folk can believe in it. Where that stupid turns to evil, however, is when the government starts abdicating responsibility for the people who are left workless by this policy setting and even blames and attacks them for not having a job. It’s kind of like a game of musical chairs where the government takes away six percent of the chairs and then vilifies anyone who’s not sitting down when the music stops.

The question is, what do we do about it? Well, first of all there needs to be a set of triage policies. These are about alleviating the worst poverty as quickly as possible and include things like rasing benefit levels, providing emergency housing, and getting food into low decile schools. Then there’s a whole lot of longer-term stuff like increasing state housing in the long term, making early childhood education and tertiary education more available (right now a student allowance is $180 and a student loan is $160 – that’s not much more than the average room rental in many university cities), and implementing civilised employment law so that work is actually a way out of poverty.

None of these policies are politically unusual in a historical or international context. Indeed it was policies like this that created New Zealand’s middle-class in the first place (and, I’d note, gave our Prime Minister the opportunities he’s grasped so enthusiastically). It’s an indictment on us as a nation that we’ve allowed thirty years of free market short-termism make such sensible policies seem so politically difficult.

The good news is I think that tide is turning. Let’s hope it does so quick enough to stop the next 600 deaths.


79 comments on “Killing our kids”

  1. karol 1

    Thanks for drawing attention to this, Irish.  There’s an excellent and practical 3 days of action coming up in Onehunga starting today, as Anthony posted about yesterday.

    Auckland Action Against Poverty and other northern advocates will coalesce outside of Work and Income Onehunga this Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to work with beneficiaries in the Onehunga Community to ensure they get the support that is rightfully theirs, says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Sarah Thompson.

    And a lunchtime rally at parliament tomorrow, 1pm.

    • Colonic Wiper 1.1

      What a big Yawn, another rally, yeah ha.

      You know, Labour could probably get a look in, in 2014 , if there was someone in it with some plan that actually looked like it might solve these heinous issues. Im a parent , pretty engaged in the community and put a lot of time out there on mainly sporting stuff. But I dont see anyone I can trust that will actually solve any of this stuff. I see plenty of people trying to use this aguish for political advanatge.

      As a nation if we think that this current bunch of Curran, Mallard, Peters, Little , Dyson etc etc have any clue at all (or actually any truthful desire) on how to go about restoring this nation we are fuking dreaming and we deserve what we get.

      No doubt polies will use this issues to get in, but once they are in, these issues will be conviently forgotten and slight progress will be defended whilst they go off and champion their chardonnay causes. The thing is I actually the average Kiwi is waking up to this.

      • karol 1.1.1

        I agree that I would like to see stronger policies to tackle poverty – especially ones that tackle the way things are measured, taxation, job availability, income fairness etc –  I like the Greens ideas about changing the focus of income, poverty measurement and contributions to society as well as other policies.

        I would like to see Labour give a higher profile to policies tackling poverty.

        I like the way Mana is getting in there along side campaigners for state housing (which includes people from the affected communities), and the way the AAAP, is getting in their and engaging with beneficiaries on the issues – as can be seen with this week’s action in Onehunga.

        The rally at parliament is to put more pressure on political parties in parliament – part of doing something to get politicians to produce and promote relevant policies.

        All that is contributing as much, if not more as your participating in local sports activities – which is also an important part of community building, but not sufficient on its own. 

        • Colonic Wiper

          My community activities are very light, I do not have a lot of spare time, my life is mainly work and family, I only put that out there as I do try to help. I am also not trying to dampen down your stuff either Karol, but why would anyone who is truly upset by what is happening with some of our kids vote for any party. None of them have any idea or actually anybody with leadership and knowledge that even looks like they could show some wisdom and direction for NZ. Untill this happens we will continue to kepp re-arranging the deck chairs every three years and change the colours of the banners.

          • karol

            Well, I must say I also am somewhat despondent about the state of our opposition parties.  But I don’t see that as a reason to give up.  

            From today’s street campaigners and party activists will come tomorrow’s leaders. 

        • muzza

          Hi Karol,

          As I have stated a number of tims here, the only policy that can make any difference to the policies/conversations that follow is.

          Control over the monetary supply et al!

          Until any politician or political party is openly and with menace, taking action about auditing the books, the RBNZ/OoDM and their ownership status, the foreign debt and so on, NZ is heading in the same direction, at an ever accelerating pace as we are currently witnessing.

          There can/will be NO other outcomes accept more misery, poverty, and what I have referred to as genocidol tactics of those who are meant to not only represent us, but actually care, people are dying, the country is dying, and the policies are targeted!

          In the USA before the elections, the talk was all about jobs, and as soon as it was over, its all about war and debt once again!

          The LP are currently being deliberately imploded which will most likely allow the NACT to have a 3rd term. If this happens, it will be the end of the LP, and the Greens will, as so desired by the puppet masters become the leading opposition party. It will not lead to what people would expect it to become.

          Where is the change coming from, CW is correct!

          RIP NZ

  2. As a social democrat I believe it is the responsibility of the government to ensure full employment and, failing that, a decent quality of life for those who can’t work or can’t find work (note: while “decent” is subjective I think we can all agree that it doesn’t included 600 dead children).

    Me too, and this government doesn’t appear even to recognise that fairly basic responsibility. That said, if you have third-generation wasters turning out four or five kids apiece, you’re going to get an increasing number of dead kids – that’s a given, and not something the govt can do much about unless it turns authoritarian on us. Same goes for having a low-paid job and a dozen kids – poverty will be your lot, and the cause of it is inside your underwear, not Parliament. These two factors provide cover for the current government to avoid its responsibility. Perhaps the next Labour government could recognise these factors but not use them as cover to avoid its responsibility? That would constitute an improvement.

    • One Tāne Viper 2.1

      Yes, the symptom is the cause. It’s the wasters causing poverty-related child deaths.

      Cognitive dissonance much?

    • bad12 2.2

      There’s two questions begging to be asked of your little two faced rant,(a), please define for me and those who will read your comment exactly what or who in your opinion is a ”third generation waster”, and (b), possibly in breach of the rules and inviting a spanking may i inquire as to the name behind the user-name you choose, might it be Dick Head….

      • IrishBill 2.2.1

        Thirty years of neoliberalism has created a lot of broken people. Milt’s right about that. But how do you deal with it? My inclination would to have a specific targeted policy of high-level state support. That said I’m no expert on social work but I assume there’s a whole lot of stuff that has been shown results overseas. I don’t think Milt’s “wasters” are irreparable.

        • bad12

          Central to the Neo-liberal economic ism is that in an economy that embraces such there WILL be unemployment of those able and willing to work of between 2 and 6%,

          That is a central tenet of the ism and thus ‘the wasters’ as described above are a deliberate creation of those Governments who are adherents to that particular economic ism,

          While we have ‘anyone’ supposedly a supporter of the left who see this creation of unemployment en masse in actual human terms as ‘those wasters’ there really cannot be any way that such poverty which underlies the deliberate creation of this unemployment will be alleviated,

          In terms of the damage done and economics it is of little consequence whether the person so made unemployed by the central tenet of the ism,(2-6% inbuilt unemployment),is the third generation of any particular family that such damage is being done to,

          The damage will and does still occur be it inter-generational or not….

        • Psycho Milt

          please define for me and those who will read your comment exactly what or who in your opinion is a ”third generation waster”…

          I suspect you know as well as I do what a “waster” is, and the thing about people is they’re self-replicating so “third-generation” ought also to be clear enough. As Irish Bill puts it, 30 years of neo-liberalism has created a lot of broken people. They’re the ones who are incapable of raising children in an environment that doesn’t feature neglect and violence because they’ve no experience of such an environment themselves. They’re also early and prolific reproducers and not much given to reading publicity material about foetal alcohol syndrome, hence the growth in the problem. I also agree that these people aren’t irreparable (for instance, the Dim Post last year linked to a pretty good repair programme), but the repairs involve intensive and expensive intervention. National’s support base would never wear the expense, and Labour’s support base would never wear the intervention. Personally I think it’s gone on too long for the govt to be able to make a serious dent in it.

          • bad12

            My view is that as in many cases you have formed a view aided by both the media and politicians which is a worse case scenario you and other’s of your ilk have then transferred in your minds as the template of all beneficiaries,

            Sure there are as you call them ‘wasters’ among the mass of those reliant upon benefits, they are in fact realists who understand that in the game of ‘winners and losers’ which is another core tenet of the Neo-liberal economic ism they are in fact ‘the losers’,

            While loath to speak of beneficiaries in the abstract, to understand the economic implications of the current norm of beneficiary mistreatment it cannot be stated enough that unemployment in those country’s adhering to the ism is that 2-6% of those willing and able to work WILL BE unemployed, not sometimes but all the time,

            This then makes the mistreatment of those unemployed all the more abhorrent and makes BULLSHIT of the view that the benefit system is a hand-up and not an entitlement mentality,

            There can under the auspices of the current economic ism only be X amount of jobs in the economy, this number of jobs in the economy WILL be short by 2-6% with regards the number of those willing and able to work,

            It therefor becomes dense, dumb, and, stupid to focus on any particular group from within beneficiary numbers as ‘wasters’, because in basic numerology it doesn’t take a f**king brain-surgeon to work out that for one of your so called wasters to become employed, among the employed someone has to become unemployed and presumably in your and others minds ‘a waster…

            • Psycho Milt

              My view is that as in many cases you have formed a view aided by both the media and politicians which is a worse case scenario you and other’s of your ilk have then transferred in your minds as the template of all beneficiaries,

              And you’re as entitled to your view as anyone else. But having asked for a definition of “wasters” and received one, you then proceed to ignore it and rail against your favoured straw man instead – which is understandable because it’s a much easier job, but it’s not without issues in the relevance department.

    • Jackal 2.3

      I would really like to see some evidence that shows poor people having large families is causing child poverty Psycho Milt? As far as I can tell it’s a complete fantasy promoted by right wing bigots.

      The statistics that show more children are born into lower decile areas simply means more woman live in low decile areas. Could this be because woman earn less than men and usually have their children before they’re 35, meaning they’re poorer because of how society is structured? Wouldn’t that mean woman who are having kids are more likely to live in poorer areas?

      By posing the question of whether the government should get more authoritarian, you’re basically arguing for interference in people’s reproductivity. This is against not just New Zealand laws, but international laws as well.

      Let’s define ‘third-generation wasters’ shall we… Could you be describing poor people who have been impacted by Rogernomics and Ruthenasia whereby they couldn’t find good employment and welfare was cut to the bone? What about globalization whereby New Zealand lost thousands of jobs to overseas sweatshops, and the current National governments neoliberalism that has caused the fastest increase in inequality we’ve ever seen, and the fastest increase in inequality of all countries measured.

      Are these things to blame at all for the 200,000 or so children growing up in abject poverty Psycho Milt? Even when poor people are having kids they cannot afford, why shouldn’t the state ensure those kids are housed, fed, educated and clothed properly? That’s where the problem really is, the government is not looking after Kiwi kids properly. There’s currently inadequate welfare, perhaps even to attempt to inhibit poor people from procreating. Such racially targeted policy is obviously not working, and only causes hardship and misery.

      Why shouldn’t financially poor people be allowed to have children if they want to Psycho Milt? Especially considering New Zealanders aren’t having enough children to replenish our numbers with. Instead we need to have an extensive immigration policy, which is expensive and doesn’t resolve the main issues New Zealand is facing. Why not spend that money on fixing the numerous policies that have utterly failed the poorest children in New Zealand?

      So that’s the choice, inhibit New Zealanders from having children and increase immigration or ensure all children have quality of life through effective policy… And personally I’m with Winston on this one.

        • karol

          Actually, you best constrain your glee because those sources don’t show the causal link you seem to imply.  The ones from the UK government try to show that reducing tax incentives to low income people having more children, will help to decrease poverty.

          A middle link from 1912 (hardly intensive research into the causes), just shows poorer families have more children.

          The last link shows a fairly complex causal relationship, related to changes in dominant family structures, and associating single mothers as being more likely to be in poverty & more likely to have a larger number of children per mother.  It says:

          If the apparent strength of the link between poverty and family structure seems obvious, its nature is less clear. For example, having a child before getting married is associated with an increased likelihood of poverty. However, living in poverty also raises the likelihood of nonmarital childbearing. In addition, decisions about work, marriage, and childbearing are increasingly disconnected.

          • Populuxe1

            The link is still obvious even if the nature isn’t clear

            • McFliper

              Sounds profound, until the “nature” that isn’t clear is whether A causes B or the other way around.

              • Populuxe1

                I expect that they feed into each other like some ourouberotic synergy – in many cases it will have been going on so long it’s chicken and egg. However if I put myself in the situation, I know that on my limited income I wouldn’t be wanting to pop out kids. Intuition tells me that large families cause poverty, but of course the idealistic idealogues here won’t countenance that even if it might offer some sort of pragmatic solutions to the problem. Regardless of which comes first, it doesn’t change the fact that smaller families are more financially sustainable.

                • McFliper

                  Apart from the fact that the data doesn’t compare those living below a fraction of median per member household income, but overall median household income.
                  For some reason, we pay more parents of 3+ child families a poverty wage than we pay parents of <3 child families.
                  I’d tend to look for systemic causes, myself.

            • QoTViper

              Murders and icecream consumption both go up at the same times of year! The link is obvious. Icecream makes you homicidal.

      • Psycho Milt 2.3.2

        I would really like to see some evidence that shows poor people having large families is causing child poverty Psycho Milt?

        “A” cause of child poverty, not “causing child poverty.” If you’re having trouble with the idea, do the maths: two kids and wages around $30,000 gross pa, vs eight kids and wages around $30,000 gross pa. Which kids are more likely to experience child poverty?

        Also, thanks for providing a detailed illustration of “Labour’s support base wouldn’t wear the intervention” in above.

        • Jackal

          Who are you calling Labours support base Psycho Milt? I support the Greens and always have.

          I also disagree that just throwing your hands up and going; “Oh well, the problem is so big now that there’s no point in the government doing anything” is about as pathetic as it gets.

          The problem of child poverty in New Zealand has been caused by consecutive governments as bad12 so succinctly points out, and it needs to be resolved through government intervention.

          Doing things like ensuring welfare dependent families have a good house to live in might be an expensive policy direction, but it’s far less expensive than the cost to our health system from doing nothing.

          • Populuxe1

            But then why should welfare families get help that the working poor don’t… And thus it starts. The sense of entitlement is a fallacy, but it’s a deeply entrenched one.

          • Psycho Milt

            Yeah, OK – that would more accurately read “the support base of a Labour/Green coalition government would never wear the intervention.”

            …throwing your hands up and going; “Oh well, the problem is so big now that there’s no point in the government doing anything” is about as pathetic as it gets.

            That was in reference to what a govt might do about the Lumpenproletariat who keep Micael (no ‘h’) Laws in newspaper columns, not what a govt might do about poverty. As I said, no NZ govt’s support base would stand for the expense and level of intervention necessary to make headway on reducing that population. What to do about poverty is a broader issue and yes, it includes stuff like a state housing programme.

  3. You_Fool 3

    And our dear leader is blaming “cultural practices” for these deaths… apparently it is the fault of “the Polynesians” because they cram too many people into homes, not because of anything the government does or does not do, but because they are savages and don’t know any better….

    I guess Irishbill was wrong, no attacking the CSHM, good old fashioned racist excuses….

    • Populuxe1 3.1

      Well, if we look at the living conditions of the poor in Victorian England, the situation was very much the same – overcrowding of substandard housing not designed for the numbers. On those grounds I don’t think you can simply write that off as racism.

      • karol 3.1.1

        There is a long recognised pattern: people living in poverty tend to have more children.  It’s a response to poverty not a cause.  It does tend to make sense as people in poverty tend to die younger.  Infant mortality rates are higher.

        When the majority of a population are lifted out of poverty, they tend to have less children. Providing education, especially to females helps break the poverty cycle.

        So the solution is to attack poverty, not people with limited circumstances, who are struggling to get by from day-to-day. 

        • Jackal

          There is a long recognised pattern: propaganda has made many people believe that poor people have more children than rich people. This is entirely untrue, for the reasons stated above.

          • McFliper

            Entirely untrue?
            Not inconsistent with the Children’s Social Health Monitor:

            In New Zealand during 1984–2011, child poverty rates for households with three or more children were consistently higher than for those with one or two children

            Chart here.
            Now whether procreating more creates poverty as opposed to poor people procreate more, fair argument. But don’t forget to occasionally check reality when you make statements about what is true or false.

            • Jackal

              Yes! Having more children does currently increase poverty for families that are already struggling, but that doesn’t answer the question of whether poor people have more children on average than rich people does it McFliper?

              I think the opposite is true, that many poor people are choosing not to have children because they cannot afford it… And would really like to see some evidence that shows poor people are “breading for a benefit” before I believe something usually promoted by right wing bigots!

              • McFliper

                Personally I think this debate is confusing “have” (give birth) and “have” (care for as part of family), as well as assuming that anyone who suggests that poor people have higher birth rates is saying that they’re doing it for the DPB income.
                But you’re hell-keen to assume the worst possible interpretation was intended, J.

                • Jackal

                  Well spotted, the worst possible interpretation was implied, and has been regularly used by right wingers to do nothing about the child poverty problem. “It’s all their fault because they decided to have children when they couldn’t afford them” doesn’t particular sit well with my sense of fairness.

                  • McFliper

                    inferred by you. I suspect it was not implied by Karol.
                    Your sense of fairness is all well and good, but refusal to accept reality is a tory trait, not left wing. Hell, half the fun is trying to see whether attitudes and reality can mesh when tested. Personally, I think we are feeble-minded if we think we logically have to accept that the baby-factory meme matches reality. 
                    The most obvious point being that if we want productive people funding us in our retirement (i.e. the 2050 superann panic-mongering) we need a lot more productive 40y.o. around. Secondly, children are the most productive investment society can make, so why are we punishing over-achievers? 

                    • karol

                      Right McFliper, I certainly have never implied or argued that having more children causes poverty – my argument is the opposite. If jackal can show me evidence to the contrary I’ll happily reconsider, but I’m tired today and have other things to attend to rather than spending my time chasing evidence that seems like a bit of a side issue to me.  

                      Of course having more children means more mouths to feed,  but it also means more potential income earners.  Also, having children is often not a rational decisions, and few look at the wider social/economic context before conceiving.

                      My concern is the way individuals are blamed for their impoverished circumstances. The main underlying cause is systemic inequalities, and difficulties in acquiring enough income to survive given the relevant costs of living.  And the fact that the proportion in poverty changes over time according to the social and economic system, points to the influence of the wider framework of society.

                    • Jackal


                      I think we are feeble-minded if we think we logically have to accept that the baby-factory meme matches reality.

                      It’s not about being feeble minded McFliper, it’s about an excuse to do nothing about child poverty that’s wrong, shared by many New Zealanders and that governments often pander to. That’s why we get policy that’s specifically targeting at DPB mothers for instance to try and stop them having kids. That’s why we get the veritable shit-load of abuse directed at beneficiaries who are treated as societies scape-goats.

                      If they (and it’s predominantly right wingers) don’t have an excuse in the form of the statistics that karol is trying to defend, they have less ability to promote hatred towards beneficiaries.

                      The opposite also applies, if the falsehood of poor people having more children than rich people is promoted, then governments have an effective tool to divide and rule. Unfortunately beneficiary bashing gains votes. That’s one of the reasons both Labour and National has failed to for so long to remedy the issue of child poverty in New Zealand.

                      It’s of course mainly governmental policy that has created that social and financial divide, but it’s only through that division of society that such inequality has been allowed to continue to wreak havoc on many people’s lives. If people didn’t believe in hierarchical segregation, poverty would be far less of an issue.


                      I certainly have never implied or argued that having more children causes poverty – my argument is the opposite. If jackal can show me evidence to the contrary I’ll happily reconsider.

                      You only need to have a look at how much a solo mother gets for each additional child to see that having more children for the poor increases their impoverishment. There’s already extensive financial disincentives for poor people to procreate… One of them is increased poverty.

                      Children cost money for families, but on the flip side not having enough children will also cost society as a whole. So I think you need to be a bit more clear.

                    • McFliper

                      We. You, me and others here at TS.
                      Why not take at face value the fact that kids in larger families have a higher risk of being in poverty? I would suggest that your denial of the evidence does us no good in the long run.
                      If the only explanation for kids in larger families having a higher risk of living in poverty is “baby-factory”, then you and I are feeble minded. The fact is that larger families are indeed associated with poverty. But I don’t think it’s because people want to continue getting their DPB.
                      I think it is a combination of factors, including things like relationship breakdowns leaving only one earner in the household, employment conditions meaning that flexibility required by parents is discriminated against, less access to primary healthcare for birth control, employment conditions that mean one median income is no longer enough to keep a family out of hardship, and so on.
                      But if you want to keep desperately picking holes in some pretty robust datasets that have existed over relatively long periods of time, feel free. 

                    • Jackal


                      Why not take at face value the fact that kids in larger families have a higher risk of being in poverty?

                      FFS! I’ve never argued otherwise McFliper. Talk about a straw man. I’ve argued that poor people don’t inherently have more kids than rich people… I’ve also provided a number of reasons why those statistics are wrong.

                      You’re actually conflating two issues here, the first one (did you even bother to read my last comment?) is that poor families that have a lot of children will have increased poverty because children cost money and incomes especially for the welfare dependent are inadequate… The other is that poor people don’t have more children per person compared to rich people. These are two separate things that only a feeble mind would not be able to differentiate between.

                      You cannot compare men, old woman and children who cannot have children with woman of a breeding age to give any relevant findings to show incomes related to birth rates… And that’s exactly what the evidence karol provides does McFliper… Therefore it’s inherently wrong!

                    • karol

                      jackal, the population pyramids I provided did not compare people of different ages the way you say.  A population pyramid compares changes in the same age groups, and separates males from females.  The bottom of the pyramid is the younger ages, the top is older ages.  

                      The changes over time indicate overall changes in the fertility rates of populations, showing, in wealthier countries, a tendency for less children to be born, and less children dying – people living longer.

                      People doing such reasearch which has shown similar results across a lot of different research over decades, have not been so lax as to leave the glaring hole in their research that you claim.

                      I’ve tried searching for the evidence on the survey you mention, if it’s so easily available, show it. Because there’s a load of files, and no easy way to sort thruogh it quickly. If you have evidence that contradicts the main thrust of a range of studies, show it.

                      But in the end, the issue is, too many children are living in poverty, and the solutions lie in providing more adequate incomes, less income inequality, and better access to living wages.

                    • Jackal

                      I’ve tried searching for the evidence on the survey you mention, if it’s so easily available, show it.

                      That makes no sense karol, the depravation index doesn’t account for how many woman are in each household. In New Zealand, the figures that show more children are born into impoverished areas are taken from the depravation index.

                      If I’m wrong, could you point to where the research in New Zealand defines woman of a breeding age in terms of their incomes and how many children they’re having? Because as far as I’m aware no research undertaken in New Zealand specifically shows this.

                      The researchers aren’t about to give a reason for why their research is irrelevant in terms of showing that poor people have more children per person than rich people are they? You’re saying they should rule out people incorrectly using the statistics in various ways… Ludicrous!

                      But in the end, the issue is, too many children are living in poverty, and the solutions lie in providing more adequate incomes, less income inequality, and better access to living wages.

                      Yes! And one of the ways of achieving that is to reduce the publics incorrect beliefs that inhibit governments from making the changes that are required.

                      Anyway I’m going around in circles here and have explained my argument a number of times. You’re welcome to carry on believing that poor people have more children per person than rich people if you like karol… I’ll continue to think you’re wrong!

                    • lprent []

                      You can download stats information from the census down to the meshblock (approx 200 households) that you can use to look at most of the types of data that you’re interested in. The deprivation index is one of those datums, there are others giving average incomes per household, number of adults, number of children, education levels etc etc. It has been a while since I looked at it and it is pretty late…

                      The stats data is getting pretty stale now as it is from 2006. But there is certainly more than enough there to allow inference of statistical significance in the areas you’re interested in between meshblocks if not within them. Just apply a good stats package to the data, which from memory comes as csv and xls.

                    • McFliper


                      you’re tying yourself up in knots of irrelevancy.

                      You’re actually conflating two issues here, the first one (did you even bother to read my last comment?) is that poor families that have a lot of children will have increased poverty because children cost money and incomes especially for the welfare dependent are inadequate…

                      But we’re not talking about gradations of poverty, just a single threshold “poor” or “not poor”. Especially when you recycle the term “welfare dependent”. Beneficiaries are most likely already poor.

                      The other is that poor people don’t have more children per person compared to rich people.

                      Source? Oh, wait, you’ve just spent a number of comments arguing that the source to identify your conjecture as “fact” doesn’t exist. So whenever tories say “baby factory” you can’t demonstrate that they’re wrong.

          • karol

            Do you have evidence of that Jackal? Because all the evidence I’ve seen indicates a relationship between poverty and increased fertility.  

            Your argument is confusing.  On the one hand you seem to agree with this  but say it’s because more women are on low incomes.  Then you say the relationship between poverty and increased fertility doesn’t exist.

            The relationship can be seen in the different population pyramids of relatively poor and wealthy countries. 

            • Jackal

              Let me explain again karol… The child poverty rates are for households, and shows there are more children born into poverty because there are simply more impoverished woman than rich woman of child bearing age living in low decile areas. The survey does not properly distinguish.

              Claiming that financially poor woman have on average more children than financially rich woman based on the NZ Household Economic Survey is entirely wrong! This is because the survey doesn’t define how many woman of child bearing age live in low decile areas. It’s a household survey that doesn’t define the makeup of the people living in each house.

              It’s likely that more woman of child bearing age live in low decile areas (household incomes below the median) because they earn less. The survey also compares older richer woman who can no longer have children with younger woman of child bearing age. This is such an obvious flaw in the research, I sometimes wonder if it has been done on purpose.

              The NZ Household Economic Survey is an incorrect way to show whether financially poor woman have on average more children than financially rich woman because a) there are more financially poor woman of child bearing age in low decile areas b) there are more financially poor woman of child bearing age than there are financially rich woman of child bearing age c) the survey compares rich old men and other irrelevant cohorts with woman of child bearing age.

              I’m not sure how extrapolating the argument to other countries helps your argument karol?

              • karol

                I’m talking about a recognised pattern that happens across countries, jackal.  Are you arguing that NZ is an exception?  Especially if, as you argue, the ways this is measured in NZ is inadequate?

                And, can you please link to the relevant specific stats you refer to.

                • Jackal

                  I’m pretty sure you can find the NZ Household Economic Survey and NZDep2006 Index of Deprivation karol and comprehend the flaws I have highlighted.

                  • karol

                    Jackal, you are making the assertions – if you don’t want to back them up, fine.  I’ve supported my assertions.  I have other things to do with my time right now.

                    • Jackal

                      I have to back up my assertions, many of which are already well known facts ie woman are paid less than men, young woman especially and the NZDep2006 Index of Deprivation doesn’t specifically look at how many woman live in each area? C’mon karol.

                      That survey like all the others I’m aware of in New Zealand looks at household incomes, households that can be made up of any combination of family dynamics.

                      Do I really need to waste my time looking these things up for you just because they don’t support your argument that in Aotearoa poor people have on average more children than rich people?

                      Your argument for this is nothing more than a statistical error karol, and there’s currently no further investigation into that error that I can highlight for you.

            • Populuxe1

              Quite the opposite – biologically, poverty is more likely to reduce female fertility, however culturally, where there are high incidences of infant mortality, large families are encouraged.

              • karol

                I think you are confusing “fertility” rate measured by number of children per couple, with “fecundity” measured by physical capabilities related to reproduction.

                • Populuxe1

                  I wasn’t using the words in their scientific sense and in idiomatic English they mean exactly the same thing.

                  • karol

                    Well, then we are agreed.  You disagreed with something I said about fertility, but you meant something different from the way I  was using it.

      • You_Fool 3.1.2

        But that is what John Key is doing… apparently it is a racial/cultural thing….

      • Dr Terry 3.1.3

        Populuxe. It is not necessarily “racism”; it is an “evil”.

  4. bad12 4

    Poverty in New Zealand has been built up over recent history in a deliberate fashion, i would like to think that Labour have a definitive plan for it’s next term in Government to reduce substantially the rates of poverty among New Zealand children but hold out little hope that this will occur unless Labour are forced to do so by a partner in any particular coalition agreement,

    Mouldoon introduced the imposition of income tax on all welfare benefits thus directly cutting those benefits,

    The Lange Government refused to remove the taxation of those benefits while Sir(spit)Roger Douglas began the demolition of the New Zealand manufacturing and industrial base thus ensuring there was one hell of a lot more people receiving them,

    Richardson(puke) and Shiply(vomit) in the Bolger Government directly cut all welfare benefits by a further 20 dollars a week thus deepening the pool of those living in poverty,

    The Clark Government refused to reverse those 20 dollar a week cuts to welfare benefits thus ensuring the marginalization of those reliant upon a benefit,

    The Clark Government introduced the ‘Working for Families’ tax credit and refused to allow those most in need, the tax paying welfare beneficiaries with children to be part of this largesse saying that not having those with children receiving a welfare benefit able to access this tax credit would encourage them to get a job,

    That’s child poverty in New Zealand, deliberately built upon the bad decisions of a series of Governments with both National and Labour exhibiting the same attitude to beneficiaries, while most of those previous Governments have instituted economic changes that have deliberately lowered the number of those employed in the economy,

    As what might be the ‘unintended consequences’ of the economic stupidity exhibited by Governments over the past 30-40 years a major change has also occurred in the allocation of State owned rental accommodation, which allocated on a needs basis is now as a majority of occupancy the preserve of those beneficiaries, themselves a product of the various Governments of the past 30-40 years economic mismanagement,

    Prior to the radicalization of economic changes the Housing New Zealand stock had as it’s major tranche of tenants ‘the working poor’ with those earning the least given priority, in today’s world that same cohort of workers at or just above the minimum wage are now reliant upon the private sector for accommodation, the difference being a 25% of income paid to the state and a 50-60% of income paid to the private sector further building the cohort of those who live ‘in poverty’ as a direct result of Government action/inaction,

    A reasonably conservative estimate which defines in a dollar figure this poverty built with deliberation by Government which for the reasons stated above effects all those receiving benefits today,(even tho such Government action may have occurred 30 years ago), and, goes on to effect those who toil daily at or just above the minimum wage is the figure of negative 100-120 dollars a week for either group who are raising children….

  5. Fisiani 5

    The Children’s Social Monitor Update, released on Monday, said there were 780 fewer hospital admissions for “socio-economically sensitive medical conditions”, such as infectious and respiratory diseases, in 2011 than in 2010.

    With the wonderful insulation of thousands of homes and the rise in vaccinations and the push to end the scourge of children condemned to living in benefit dependent households the improvements of the last year will hopefully continue.

    • Dr Terry 5.1

      Fisiani, I hope you are right. I would like to know all the reasons for lower hospital admissions, of which there are probably several.

      • McFlock 5.1.1

        I love the way he tacked the bene-bashing onto the list of factors likely to have an effect on admissions. Now, which one is National’s policy again?

        • bad12

          Yes, if His above comment had the slightest iota of veracity all’s we would need do is stop paying anyone a benefit,

          That would fix poverty now wouldn’t it just…

      • bad12 5.1.2

        My understanding of the figures produced in that particular report are that for the year 2010-2011 there was a reduction in hospital admissions directly attributed by medical staff to be poverty related of 750,

        The figure if i heard correctly on news reports is that for the current year such admissions have risen by 5000,

        I would happily be proven wrong here…

    • McFliper 5.2

      Ha ha.
      Typical tory fanboy.
      Was your source was 40s into here?  
      Where Dr Craig finishes talking about 780 fewer in the past year, and finishes her sentence to say that we’re still 4,000 admissions higher than when the recession started?
      How to take shit out of context. 

  6. muzza 6

    A good write up IB.

    Perhaps someone can add to this by highlighting the link between poverty and our youth suicide rates.

    • Populuxe1 6.1

      I think that would be a reductive view to take on the tragedy of youth suicide – there are many many factors involved, and poverty is only one of them. I’d rather not try to harness the problem to ideology because it would only distort the broader problems.

      • muzza 6.1.1

        Indeed Pop…

        The reasons behind poverty will be in many cases, the same reasons behind the tragic youth suicide rates, for which NZ has lead the world in for so long.

        The links run deep, no question.

  7. None of this stuff called ‘poverty’ is due to ‘stupid’ policy, nor are there ‘unintended consequences’.
    Poverty is endemic in capitalist economies that are based on expropriating the wealth created by workers and accumulating it as the profits of the capitalists. The result is enrichment at one end and impoverishment at the other. Calling it ‘child poverty’ obscures the problem.
    All governments that manage capitalism, left right and centre, play this game, bullshit notwithstanding.
    Once people begin to realise that capitalism is the problem they can clear their heads and try to work out that there must be an alternative.
    Rosa Luxemburg posed it clearly before she was assassinated by the German Social Democrats in 1919.
    “Socialism or Barbarism”.
    And that was before the global climate meltdown.

    • Bastard Te Viper 7.1


      Poverty is a direct result of the way we distribute resources and that means that poverty must be a direct result of capitalism.

      • muzza 7.1.1

        And what sits at the heart of the capitalist system…

        The abilty to control/print money through the central banking systems

        Which then allows those who control the banks, to virtually, “own the planet”

        • dave brownz

          Bazza money is not the heart of the capitalist system.
          It is a means of exchange of value that is already created by labour in the process of production. It ‘represents’ value but does not have to have its own value (labor content) which is why it can be printed on paper.
          It is not even a good measure of value since devaluation or re-valuation means that it fluctuates around actual value.
          The critique of money as the ‘heart’ of capitalism leads to utopian arguments to reform money to measure true value and and hence equalise capitalism.
          Engels wrote a neat summary in his Intro to Marx critique of Proudhon -‘The Poverty of Philosophy’. http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/poverty-philosophy/pre-1885.htm
          The theoretical basis of his critique is spelled out in Part 1 of Vol 1 of Capital “Commodities and Money”. http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/

      • karol 7.1.2

        Exactly, BTV.  And, to add a point to the discussion with jackal above, having run out of reply buttons.  Fertility rates drop – less people being born, usually in direct relationship with the decline in infant mortality, and rise in adequate health care.  It seems that, when people no longer fear their children may not live to a ripe old age, they have more children.

        And adequate health care from cradle to grave, should be a service for all, as part of more equitable distribution of resources. 

        It’s unconscionable that we are seeing the return of diseases of poverty among low income NZ households. 

        • karol

          And for jackal above, I’m also not going to continue with this argument until you show me the evidence you’re talking about.  I have been talking about significant patterns shown internationally.  I don’t know why I should spend so much time having to look up your supporting evidence, which you don’t seem to be inclined to provide.

          You switched from talking about a household survey to talking about the NZ Deprivation index @6.39pm – and I’ve had a look.  

          jackal said:

          That makes no sense karol, the depravation index doesn’t account for how many woman are in each household. In New Zealand, the figures that show more children are born into impoverished areas are taken from the depravation index.
          If I’m wrong, could you point to where the research in New Zealand defines woman of a breeding age in terms of their incomes and how many children they’re having?  

          Actually, the deprivation index was a little easier to search on.  It turns out it’s based largely on data from the NZ census.  Yes it focuses on households, but it also differentiates households by income, family type (with dependent children, single parents, etc).

          And the census definitely provides statistics that differentiate age, gender etc.

          I’ve spent enough time searching. There’s certainly enough evidence to compare family sizes with income, gendering of adults in the household etc.  You still haven’t bothered to do any work in providing evidence to support your argument, and there’s plenty of indications you are not clear what you are talking about – eg the deprivation index is the original source of information, but the census.

  8. BM 8

    Labour will get slaughtered in the polls if they increase benefits.
    We probably have one of the most generous social welfare policies in the world.

  9. vto viped 9

    How much do New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses pay in usury to the banks and other private issuers of paper money?

    I think you may find that changing this area would release a magnificent flow of ‘resource’ which would probably pretty much put an end to the hardships which so many live in.

    When the average person cannot support their family on the minimum wage you know the fundamentals are way out of whack. A capable person who fulfils a useful place in society must surely be entitled to live without distress in that society. A society which does not do this is a sick society. Guess which we have.

    Sometimes I think our sunshine and beaches cloud the eyes of most New Zealanders ……..

  10. karol 10

    Onehunga Beneficiary Impact today: Voxy reports that the response from people requiring food grants was pretty saddening. 

    Over three quarters of the people we saw today needed a food grant in order to feed their family.

    One woman, Jane, had been working 18 hours per week but then her job dried up. Her husband has just found 15 hours of work but with three children to feed, his pay just won’t cut it. She was happy to walk away with a $150 food grant but she said what they really wanted was a job with regular full time hours.
    The same was true of Andrea, the mother of five children. Her husband earns $600 per week, but with five children and rent at $450, what’s left is not enough to keep them nourished. She too left with a food grant for $200. 

    • MrSmith 10.1

      And the reason there are no jobs is because we have a system where profit is the main goal, this system will continually see businesses looking for ways to cut costs/wages/jobs, so even though we possibly could all be kicking back on ten hours a week, some of us (not me) are doing 60+ hours just to get by and in the process inadvertently doing people out of jobs.

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