Look at the future of families

Written By: - Date published: 7:48 am, August 14th, 2015 - 51 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, babies, Economy, families, gender, housing - Tags:

In South Korea the colliding intersection between tradition and demographics is probably at its most extreme – see Economist article “I don’t“. However the same kinds of effects are being seen all over the developed world, and increasingly in parts of the underdeveloped world.

The proportion of single people in Seoul more than doubled between 1990 and 2010, and they now account for 16% of households. Four in ten South Korean adults are unmarried, the highest share among the 34 OECD countries. In Seoul over a third of women with degrees are single.

One reason is that wedding expenses, mostly met by the groom and often including the couple’s first home, have become prohibitive for many. Another is that Korean families used to be so desperate to have sons that in the 1980s they aborted lots of daughters. Now one in seven men of marriageable age lacks a potential partner.

Also, some women want to “marry up”, which is harder now that so many women have degrees and good jobs. Many others are no longer prepared to play the role of a traditional wife. The mean age at which women marry has risen from 25 in 1995 to 30 today.

Social expectations have yet to catch up.

The birth selection is an issue that pops up all over various countries because of decisions made by parents back in the 1980s. But the really strong factor is other social expectations.

Some snipe that these women’s “marriage strike” is selfish and unpatriotic, by which they mean that they would like women to carry on shouldering nearly all the burden of housework, child care and looking after ageing in-laws. Even otherwise modern-minded online men’s clubs, such as “I Love Soccer”, have taken to deriding feminists and calling women’s forums childish. Birth rates in most rich countries have plummeted in recent decades (see article)—but further and faster in South Korea than almost anywhere else.

Successive governments have regarded the promotion of traditional marriage as a way to boost procreation, says Kwonkim Hyun-young, a lecturer in gender studies at Sungkonghoe University in Seoul. This does not seem to work. Granted, the stigma against cohabitation remains strong: only 0.2% of Korean households consist of unwed couples, compared with 10% in Britain and 19% in Sweden. But rather than getting hitched, many women remain single. And many married couples are having only one child: the number of children beyond a first fell by 37% between 2010 and 2013. So long as South Korean wives and mothers are expected to behave like their mothers did in the 1960s, many women will opt to fly solo instead.

As a leader in the Economist points out, looking across all countries, what helps is providing the economic way for encouraging women to have children..

The thing that seems to boost fertility most is subsidised child care. By cutting the cost of combining work and motherhood, this encourages both. Subsidised nurseries were pioneered in France, a country that has worried about national vigour ever since it was thrashed in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. It has been rewarded with one of the highest fertility rates in Europe. Cheap nurseries have also helped boost Quebec’s birth rate from one of the lowest of all Canadian provinces to one of the highest.

Few rich countries will ever go back to a fertility rate of 2.1, the magic number which means that the population remains stable. And persuading women in southern Europe or East Asia to have more sprogs will be especially hard. Birth rates there have fallen so far and so fast that they may never bounce back. Countries like South Korea are stuck in a cultural bind: women fought their way into university and good jobs, but family life is far less egalitarian (see article). Many women face a stark choice between an interesting career or a life making bulgogi and tempura.

Yet a culture can change, and the state can nudge it. Creating lots of good, subsidised nurseries would signal that women can keep pursuing a career, if they want to, even after having children. That would be good for women, good for productivity and good for the public coffers.

I can see exactly the same kinds of things happened here as are happening in Seoul. The effects are leavened more by our looser culture and high immigration.

Unlike the world I grew up in during the 1960s, women now make up close to half  of our workforce – albeit still extremely underpaid in many areas. But exactly the same life choices for women that are laid so starkly bare in South Korea also apply to one degree or another here.

As Stephanie pointed out in June, even having children is actively frowned upon by our rather short-sighted employers. Women are effectively given a choice by the expectations of their employers to make a choice between having a career or spending some years raising children. Even if they have a partner willing to share the work to raise kids, the stereotypes land the work and the role squarely on women.  They effectively carry far more of all of the costs (and risks) of having children.

It is hardly surprising that given a choice between having a career that they are involved with and  trained for, and having children – they are increasingly picking the career. By any rational economic measure that is the correct choice. And in our modern world, increasingly economics is overriding biology.

But even without this, increasingly just being a parent is unaffordable. Parent(s) need to have two steady incomes to even have a place to live, especially in Auckland. To buy  a property for raising children requires reasonably low debt levels and a deposit. But something like a third of our younger adults go through tertiary institutions and pick up large student debts that they start paying off as they start their careers, usually on lower wages than they will receive later in their career. So they can’t accumulate large deposits and face the choice of having children when they can’t afford it, or have children later when their bodies in all respects are less able to handle conception, childbirth, and child-rearing.

This was pointed out in a survey of tertiary students  – see “Cost of student debt: no kids“. See also an eloquent opinion piece by Rachel Smalley “Student loans a kick in the teeth to whole generation“.

That is also exactly the message that you get when you talk to people in their 30s who haven’t had children, have finally started making progress on paying off student debt, and who are having problems saving for deposit. They’re looking at the biological clock and their finances and deciding that they don’t have time to have kids. They are literally deciding between kids or career because of the costs.

Labour was starting to deal with this issue in their last term, both through Working For Families, and more importantly with state driven enhancements for Early Childhood Education. These were both designed to reduce the choice between career and children for parents, especially women.

But as usual the short-sighted fools in National were incapable of seeing past their next election and trashed ECE and every other child and parent helping initiative in various ways, like this.

It is hardly surprising that the numbers of two parent families has visibly diminished during my lifetime under a economic onslaught that makes it ever harder to provide a secure environment for raising children. Perhaps if National thought more deeply about what is required to support families that they seem to yearn for, they’d have more of them…

51 comments on “Look at the future of families”

  1. Pat 1

    “Perhaps if National thought more deeply about what is required to support families that they seem to yearn for, they’d have more of them…”
    I suspect National have indeed considered these issues and their actions would appear to indicate that immigration is their solution….and why not, it is their economic policy as well….two birds with one stone? a bargain!

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      +1

      Far cheaper to import than to produce here. National seems to apply that delusion to everything.

  2. Chooky 2

    +100 …good post…it states the obvious… but what is ususally obviously ignored by male dominated politics and male politicians and long term planning for women and families

    …and now it is undermining the sovereignty of our country and our children’s future ( in favour of immigration and house buy ups from grossly over populated cultures where women are or have been second class citizens…ie have been without contraception and often not educated or have jobs to the same degree as males from these cultures…and where in many cases females have been aborted or killed as female babies )

    Recently we have started to watch a television series now on DVD series ‘The Amazing Mrs Pritchard’ about a women’s political party in Britain….It is a good concept and maybe prescient…It is time for women to take charge of national politics …and world politics imo…for the sake of their countries, cultures, families and the planet.

  3. Brendon Harre -Left wing Liberal 3

    Thanks Lynn. I was trying to address this issue in my “Loss of Hope” article published in interest.co.nz earlier in the year. Your article seems to be a easier read though.

    http://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/74229/brendon-harre-wonders-what-global-collapse-interest-rates-and-spectre-deflation-tell

    Somehow as a society we need to widen the public discourse so we can address some of these issues.

    • lprent 3.1

      Your article seems to be a easier read though.

      That was probably because I quoted from The Economist in the first part of the post. As a hint, borrowing from clear writers to establish the scene, then applying to the local is a great way to write a easy to read post.

  4. CR 4

    Thanks for this post, do you remember the ‘battle of the generations’ debate re housing, on the Nation a while back? Where Tau ‘never heard such rubbish’ Henare and Michelle ‘don’t give me evidence’ Boag actually SCOFFED at the Gen X, Y and Millenial/Zero team for ‘not having children because we can’t afford to have children’. I am certain if any on the younger panel HAD any children the scoffing boomers would have jumped on them and told them to blame themselves for being so irresponsible and having children they couldn’t afford.
    I was a young parent at university in the 90s racking up a student loan at 7% interest from day one, while still studying. That’s how it was back then. And no I didn’t piss it up against the wall at Shadows or go on an overseas trip with my ‘free money’ (because it wasn’t free). I didn’t take the TIA because Jenny was telling us all to be socially responsible and it was an investment in our own human capital,blah, blah, blah…didn’t want the stigma of being called a bludger, etc. stoopid me, shoulda done what Paula done. Of course no working for families (Labour) or 20 hours free childcare (Labour) or KiwiSaver (Labour) back then either. But a 17k loan did grow to 38k with the marvels of compounding interest and by the time I paid it off my child was drawing their own (thankfully, thank you, Labour) interest free student loan. Anyway, don’t own a home, maybe never will, never got married, that dream died, didn’t have any more kids (vowed to self I wouldn’t have any more kids til I was married and had own home). I think people like Tau, Michelle the generation who got everything for free really don’t get our reality. They are out of touch. They’ve never experienced it, they can’t empathise and they aren’t listening they’re so focussed on proving they’re right and we’re wrong. The most poignant moment of that debate was the youngest guy saying ‘I don’t expect to ever own a home’, and advocating for security of tenancy in law. And getting scoffed at.

    • lprent 4.1

      …do you remember the ‘battle of the generations’ debate re housing, on the Nation a while back?

      That was a complete farce.

      The young were informed. Most of the aged (there was one exception) came across as ignorant shitheads who’d never bothered to learn anything much after they turned 35 – and thought that the world still ran the same way as it did 40 years ago when they were 20.

      But really Henare and Boag were just jammerheads not interested in doing anything apart from being spewing up the National line.

      No brains or early dementia?

      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1

        No brains or early dementia?

        Or perhaps we should be asking how long before RWNJ enters the DSM as an actual mental disorder? 😈

    • John Shears 4.2

      CR what a sad but revealing post that tells it the way it is.
      Thank you for being brave enough to write it. Good Luck.

    • ropata 4.3

      +999 CR great comment on a very important topic, eloquently put by lprent.

  5. ianmac 5

    In the late 40s my very clever Mum went started working. As a young school-aged kid this was traumatic. No other two parent families had working mums. Mum had until then always been at home when I came home from school. And now she wasn’t there. I got used to it and Mum was a very capable woman who rose up rapidly in retail, so from her point of view it was great that she could realise some of her potential.
    From that point onwards it seems that the shift progressed rapidly. The difference now is that both parents have to work, especially if on minimum wages. And any kids are farmed out to child-care to act as proxy parents. Didn’t the Spartans do that?

    What do we hope will be the future for families? Probably the answer lies with the 1%ers.

  6. Colonial Viper 6

    It seems that we have not reached a consensus as to whether or not we want to be bringing many more children into a world which is going to be wracked by climate extremes and resource instability.

    • lprent 6.1

      The logic you are applying is the exactly the one that says the best thing that should be done is to impose on everyone (else usually) and release a war-engineered pathogen to scour the world population.

      For everything less than that, the general idea is to go for softer landings than planetary population annihilation, and be in a position to repair the damage that has already been done.

      There are always major costs involved in any revolutionary change. Demographics is at present going through it in almost every country in the world apart from Africa. Falling birthrates mean that the inter-generational trade offs are failing. And almost everything in the governmental systems from roads to superannuation.

      The prime end effect appears to be the kind of economic malaise that has held Japan for the last couple of decades resulting in them neither being able to restructure their industrial systems to a more sustainable form, nor to become the world leader in sustainable systems that they clearly have the capability to be. As it stands, I suspect the entire culture will remain in a stasis for at least another generation or two until they work through their indigestible body of superannuates.

      *sigh*, remember that the greenhouse gases you are looking at have residence times in the thousands of years especially in the oceans. So we either live with the effects or we start figuring out how to reverse the effects (when we finally get around to stopping increasing them).

      That requires working societies with the required spare resources / wealth to do so. It also means that we need to take care of those societies because they are the only tool we have to do the job apart from large amounts of time after a massive dieback of humans. Societies don’t do new work, even required work when they are broken.

      You need to learn to think strategically rather then just gazing at (and seemingly hoping for) the apocalypse

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1

        The prime end effect appears to be the kind of economic malaise that has held Japan for the last couple of decades resulting in them neither being able to restructure their industrial systems to a more sustainable form, nor to become the world leader in sustainable systems that they clearly have the capability to be.

        Part of the reason for that, and it’s occurring everywhere, is because they over produced for export rather than solely producing for the local market. When you only produce for the local market then productivity increases allow the local populace to produce everything it needs. Massive over production for export results in economic and social malaise. We see the same here with our over dependence upon farming.

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.2

        Declining birth rates are as much a symptom, as they are a cause. My own view is that if we are lucky, we will be back down to 1B-2B humans by 2200. Those numbers would suggest a “soft landing” type scenario. If not, the numbers will be 1/10 that.

        We are living through the de-industrialising economic decline of post peak-energy right now. It doesn’t matter what games of financial musical chairs the powers that be enact, this is an inevitable process which is going to play out over the next century and apart from a few spasmodic blips of short lived and tenuous economic growth, the long term trend will be that of retrenchment.

        A young couple making the decision to have children now is a huge act of faith.

        The wealth of modern global society comes from the energy and mineral resources that it can extract and process, and the quality and affordability of such is in permanent decline. Bringing an energy rich country like Iran which is full of cheap untapped conventional oil back into the fold will be of help for a few decades of course. But the only remaining truly new lands we can conquer and exploit for physical resources are in the Arctic and the Antarctic, and doing so will guarantee a miserable short existence for humanity.

        Thinking strategically requires a correct assessment of the strategic environment and identifying the strategic factors which are going to be decisive. As populations get poorer, resources like good food and good water harder to come by, but levels of education still maintained (for the moment), expect to see fertility rates destabilise further, both on the down side and the upside.

        And the elite 0.1% will go even further in their quest to maintain their own position at the cost of everyone else’s. If there is to be any true “revolution” than the issue of the 0.1% will have to be addressed.

        • tinfoilhat 6.1.2.1

          “My own view is that if we are lucky, we will be back down to 1B-2B humans by 2200. If we are not, the numbers will be 1/10 that.”

          I tend to think it’ll be more in the other direction as per this presentation by Hans Rosling.

      • Pat 6.1.3

        your confidence in a functioning society in the not too distant future, let alone one with sufficient resources to successfully perform the mammoth task you describe can at best be described as optimistic, particularly when one considers the disruption a mere 100,000 refugees a year causes in our most advanced societies….I would suggest the glass is not only not half full but has slipped from our grasp.

        • ropata 6.1.3.1

          that’s the spirit. let’s all give up then shall we?

          • Pat 6.1.3.1.1

            your solution? a miraculous change in human nature overnight perhaps?

            • ropata 6.1.3.1.1.1

              Engage the political process, and work personally to improve things, including myself and the people around me

              • Pat

                a question….do you believe the impact of climate change has been well disseminated in NZ over the past 2 or 3 years?

                • ropata

                  Not particularly, but civil engineers and other members of the technocratic and political class are well aware, why?

                  • Pat

                    because the only political party that even attempted to address these issues polled 11% in the recent election.

        • joe90 6.1.3.2

          particularly when one considers the disruption a mere 100,000 refugees a year causes in our most advanced societies…

          What disruption.

          0.027%

          Hammond said that the migrants would speed the collapse of the European social order. In reality, the number of migrants to have arrived so far this year (200,000) is so minuscule that it constitutes just 0.027% of Europe’s total population of 740 million. The world’s wealthiest continent can easily handle such a comparatively small influx.

          […]

          1.2 million

          There are countries with social infrastructure at breaking point because of the refugee crisis – but they aren’t in Europe. The most obvious example is Lebanon, which houses 1.2 million Syrian refugees within a total population of roughly 4.5 million. To put that in context, a country that is more than 100 times smaller than the EU has already taken in more than 50 times as many refugees as the EU will even consider resettling in the future. Lebanon has a refugee crisis. Europe – and, in particular, Britain – does not.

          http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/aug/10/10-truths-about-europes-refugee-crisis?CMP=share_btn_fb

          • Pat 6.1.3.2.1

            yes the vast majority of refugees are not arriving on europes doorstep…and that reinforces my point….how are they dealing with the minuscule number currently …not how could they, how are they? and then multiply that by ten,a hundred …maybe add in a collapsing economy …..do you believe that as the numbers increase their response will improve? do you believe we will behave any differently? or the Australians?…the Americans?

  7. save NZ 7

    Personally I would want choice. Should both parents really have to work and therefore put their kids into childcare? At what level.

    It has been shown to be harmful to children to go into childcare as babies as their is higher levels of stress for them.

    I would like to see the discourse widened to society making it easier for a parent to care for their child for up to 3 or 4 years. These are critical years for children as their personality, emotions and wellbeing are being developed.

    This might not suit all parents but I feel their should be some sort of choice and support as to the choice of child care of looking after kids by a parent.

    Peter Dunn has the idea that if a parent stays at home to look after kids their income is taxed between both parents for example. Ideas like that can help.

    There should also be more support for early childhood care and more support at a maternity level.

    I can already hear the trolls firing up, with this talk of valuing children and WORSE financial support for them.

    There used to be child support payments made to parents – that’s how my parents got their deposit for their house. In addition the house they bought was built by the state, and able to be purchased off the state at cost.

    It is considered fine that our taxpayers assets are sold cheap overseas to be an asset for a foreign national to profit from like power and housing.

    Now we have moved to this short sighted neoliberal way of ‘user pays’ for everything. What are the costs of this ‘short term’ neoliberal model of making everything about money and short term profit?

    Immigration has been the answer to these governments focus of depriving young people of support.

    It started with student loans – when we were told that Doctors were not a public good and necessary to be trained here as it was too expensive and only they benefit from it we can just import them in fully trained through immigration. Now we just import doctors in and our Kiwi trained ones depart to pay off their loans. Not sure how efficient that system is long term.

    Likewise with children the same ideas. They are considered a personal choice not as a citizen of NZ who we want to raise to be the best person they can be and make this country better.

    Social good replaced by Social bonds – traded by banks and the rich to increase their profits.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Labour helped create a massive private sector professional child care industry. What we really need as you point out are financial options for parents to stay at home and look after their children themselves – whether it is decent single wages or home support payments for parents instead of feeding the $$$ into the child care industry private sector.

    • It has been shown to be harmful to children to go into childcare as babies as their is higher levels of stress for them.

      It has not. It has been asserted, via studies carried out by conservative groups with a mothers-belong-in-the-home agenda, but that’s about it. Give it the same credence as the studies that have “shown” abortion causes breast cancer.

      • Colonial Viper 7.2.1

        what’s good about having strangers raise your children while half your take home pay goes to pay those strangers for doing so?

        • Psycho Milt 7.2.1.1

          The sad thing is, you probably genuinely imagine that’s relevant.

          • Colonial Rawshark 7.2.1.1.1

            I repeat the question – why should Government pay strangers in the private sector to look after your children, instead of paying you directly as a parent to stay home to do just that?

            • Psycho Milt 7.2.1.1.1.1

              OK, I’ll indulge your irrelevant tangent. There are various answers:

              1. In some cases, because you have a job to go to.
              2. In some cases, because you lack interest in looking after children full time.
              3. In some cases, because you want more money than you can get child-minding.
              4. In some cases, because professionals will do a much better job of early childhood education than you would.
              5. In all cases, because it would be a waste of taxpayers’ money to fund amateurs to look after one or two children apiece when you can fund professionals to look after them in bulk.

              • The Fairy Godmother

                So you think that institutionalisation of children is a good idea and relationships with families and love and all that sort of stuff doesn’t really count for much. Brave new world indeed.

        • The Fairy Godmother 7.2.1.2

          +1

  8. Stuart Munro 8

    Education cost is the big deal in Korea – social class was largely defined by education so it is fiercely competitive. Whether this can be improved by innovations like blended learning delivery is somewhat doubtful while it functions as much as a social exclusion mechanism as it does as an education system.

  9. infused 9

    The world needs less population, not more.

    Are you now going to have a rant about global warming?

    Also, this wage gap stuff?

    https : //www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDj_bN0L8XM

    [lprent: That youtube link was showing up as a “wierd trick” spam on my page. Was that intended? ]

    • lprent 9.1

      Evidently you are caught in some kind of a strobe effect, seeing points in a process rather than the process itself (mind you that kind of discontinuity of perception probably does explain a lot about your opinions). Or it could be thta you are a bit ignorant.

      The world needs a steadily declining population. It isn’t there yet but it is getting close. Play around on this interactive graph

      However when you exclude immigration NZ, Europe, Japan, Korea, China, and most of the world are already in that position of declining populations. The problem is that in some of these nations the rate of increase is declining rather too fast causing other structural issues. Which is what this post is about.

      If you don’t want to discuss that, then I’d suggest you don’t comment on this post.

      • infused 9.1.1

        If you include this in your post

        Unlike the world I grew up in during the 1960s, women now make up close to half of our workforce – albeit still extremely underpaid in many areas. But exactly the same life choices for women that are laid so starkly bare in South Korea also apply to one degree or another here.

        Then it’s up for discussion. not sure why you removed the youtube link. I think your machine has issues. Try removing the ssl link.

      • Gosman 9.1.2

        Why is any potential decline an issue in the NZ context? You haven’t explained why WE should be concerned about this. Indeed given our rather open Immigration policy and increasing population we should be doing more to reduce the birth rate not increase it.

        • Stuart Munro 9.1.2.1

          Certainly any neo-lib’s offspring were better euthanized and replaced by immigrants – but many folk still prefer to roll their own.

    • Tricledrown 9.2

      With lack of action on global warming Con fused your wishes will be fulfilled.
      Humans will cease to exist.
      But right whingers like you don’t have any human attributes.
      Still stuck in the Neanderthal mentality of only the strongest survive .now the richest only deserve to survive.

  10. Rosie 10

    These people:

    “That is also exactly the message that you get when you talk to people in their 30s who haven’t had children, have finally started making progress on paying off student debt, and who are having problems saving for deposit. They’re looking at the biological clock and their finances and deciding that they don’t have time to have kids. They are literally deciding between kids or career because of the costs.”

    I really do feel for. Those who do decide they want to have children (unlike people like me are child free by choice) are now at the point where it’s external influences that are preventing them from having them. That, surely must cause some resentment.

    If I were in their shoes I’d feel let down by a government who wasn’t prepared to contribute via a number of policy measures, to the nurturing and development of it’s little citizens. In the case of this current government it’s just more evidence of the indifference they have towards social well being. It’s something verging on contempt for other humans.

    Families need affordable housing? Regulate the market. Nah.
    Parents need decent wages so both are not compelled to work full time to make ends meet? Raise wages. Nah
    Prospective parents put off having kids until it’s potentially too late because they have a massive student debt pile? Free or low cost tertiary education. Nah

    All those things would benefit the whole of society as well, not just parents. As it is, we can barely cover our expenses week to week. I really have no idea how families cope. Hats off to ya who do.

  11. Gosman 11

    Why do you want people to have children anyway? Surely it is better for the environment to reduce the number of people on the planet.

    • Rosie 11.1

      I thought you promoters of the free market were into choice!

    • Mike the Savage One 11.2

      I totally agree, Gosman, I trust you do your bit, as that will certainly advance New Zealand society and smart thinking to take hold of more.

    • ropata 11.3

      Is that the RWNJ solution to climate change? Do nothing and let children die in poverty?

  12. Mike the Savage One 12

    The planet is totally over-populated, and the present world human population is totally unsustainable, so perhaps we should besides of more “1st World” citizens also put more South Asians, Africans and Latin Americans into tertiary education, so they lose the desire to pursue having too many off-spring?

    I have no problem with people choosing to not have kids, as it will address one major issue we should all be worried about, un-sustainability on a global scale, caused by human and human society’s behaviour to rape and pillage resources that are finite, not thinking of tomorrow.

    We need less people, and need to learn to live within our means. I also think the stupid, short sighted economic agenda of this and previous NZ governments, to create growth by increasing the population is short sighted and stupid.

    We should focus on productivity, on quality gains, and diversification, than simply choosing the easy and stupid way, to simply increase the consumer and worker base. All those people will want to be looked after in ill health, when unemployed and elderly, that will cost a lot, same as housing and what else there is.

    But tell that John Short Minded Opportunistic Monetary Merchant Bankster John Key and his government, they do NOT care for the future, only themselves.

  13. NEW YORK—Expressing concerns over dwindling resources and the preservation of the environment for future generations, an adult male American cockroach was reportedly worried Thursday about what kind of kitchen cupboard he was leaving to his children. “I look at the state of this cupboard right now and see how young my nymphs are, and I’m terrified there won’t be enough graham cracker crumbs left when they’re grown up,” said the insect, adding that he sincerely hoped his offspring would have the same opportunities to safely skitter around in dark cracks and crevices behind the containers of flour and rice that he had always enjoyed. “Sometimes I lie awake wondering whether the Quaker Oatmeal Squares will still be here when I’m gone, or whether my generation has been too wasteful with the brown sugar leaking out of the plastic bag. After all, this cupboard is the only home we’ve got.” At press time, the cockroach was reportedly grappling with the ethical dilemma of bringing several hundred children into such a cupboard in the first place.

  14. Ad 14

    I am astounded by the number of conversations I have or overhear with people who have given up on owning a house, given up on having children, and given up on an upward career.

    I have very very few conversations – even in my large and very well paid business – with people who have the confidence to step out, start business, expect an upward trajectory of any kind.

    My business is 100% white male led, massively qualified, and about 85% European in general. This used to be the ruling class – and may well still be.

    Oddly, the great Auckland property boom is a signal of the hope running out fast from our society. Apart from that last, highest fraction.

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    Almost $600 million has been paid into taxpayers’ bank accounts in the past two months, after the first season of automatic tax assessments. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says the completion of this year’s tax refund season is a significant milestone. “The ability of Inland Revenue to run auto calculations for ...
    3 weeks ago