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Poverty Watch 19

Written By: - Date published: 12:19 pm, February 16th, 2013 - 23 comments
Categories: national, poverty - Tags:

In recent posts in this series we’ve focused on the Children’s Social Health Monitor 2012 Update Report, see the the full report (pdf) here.  Today we’ll carry on with a look at the remaining Economic Indicators.


No surprises here:

Firstly, research suggests that children in families where the parents are unemployed have higher rates of psychosomatic symptoms, chronic illnesses and low wellbeing and that, while the magnitude of these associations is reduced once other potentially mediating factors are taken into account (e.g. parents’ former occupation, sole parent status, and migrant status), the associations do not disappear completely [29]. Further, research suggests that these negative effects may be mediated via the impact unemployment has on parents’ mental health, with the mental distress associated with decreased social status, disruption of roles, loss of self-esteem and increased financial strain, all impacting negatively on parents’ emotional state [29]. This in turn may lead to non-supportive marital interactions, compromised parenting, and children’s internalising (e.g. withdrawal, anxiety, depression) and externalising (e.g. aggressive or delinquent behaviour, substance abuse) behaviour [7].

Secondly, for young people the research suggests that unemployment leads to a range of negative psychological outcomes including depression, anxiety and low self-esteem, which are in turn associated with adverse outcomes such as heavy tobacco, alcohol and drug use; and higher mortality from suicide and accidents [30]. …

Unemployment is a rot that eats away at our whole society. Most people want and need to work, but too often the work isn’t there.


Further analysis in the report goes on to break down unemployment by age (bad news for the young), gender, ethnicity (bad news for the non-pakeha), and qualification (bad news for the less qualified).


No surprises here either.

In New Zealand, children who are reliant on benefit recipients are a particularly vulnerable group, with the 2008 Living Standards [26] survey finding that 59% of children whose main source of family income was a benefit, scored four or more on a composite Deprivation Index. This Deprivation Index measured the extent to which families were economising on a range of items including being able to keep the main rooms of the house warm in winter, and having a meal with meat/chicken/fish at least every second day. Families scoring four or more on this Index were much more likely to report living in houses that were damp or mouldy, or in very poor physical condition; that their children were having to continue to wear worn out shoes or clothing; that they were cutting back on meat and fresh fruit and vegetables; and that they were postponing doctors visits because of cost, all factors which are likely to impact adversely on children’s health and wellbeing.

Using a different measure, in 2009 Perry noted that 75% of all households (including those with and without children) relying on income-tested benefits as their main source of income were living below the poverty line (housing adjusted equivalised disposable income <60% of 2007 median) [26].This proportion has increased over the past two decades, rising from 39% of benefit-dependent households in 1990, to a peak of 76% in 1994, and then remaining in the low–mid 70%s ever since [26], with these trends being attributed to three main factors: cuts in the level in income support during 1991, growth in unemployment (which peaked at 11% in 1991) and escalating housing costs, particularly for those in rental accommodation [14]. …

That picture (for households with and without children) is even worse for households with children – recall from last week that:

Perry notes that during the 1980s, children in workless households were around twice as likely to be in poor households; during 1992–2004 four times more likely; and during 2007– 2011 six to seven times more likely [22]

That’s a terrible, shaming trend.

Here’s the historical overview of benefit dependent children by benefit type:


It is (long long past) time to raise the the DPB.

That’s it for the economic indicators, next week a look at Health and Wellbeing Indicators.

In current news, as already covered here by Karol, the Nat government got a “D” on Child Poverty from the latest Salvation Army report (full report here). I’m sure they’ll add it to the huge pile of similar reports that they are ignoring. As I/S and No Right Turn reminds us, far from acting on these reports, the Nats are keen on burying the evidence.

Here’s the standard footnote. Poverty (and inequality) were falling (albeit too slowly) under the last Labour government.   Now they are on the rise again, in fact a Waikato University professor says that poverty is our biggest growth industry.

Before the last election Labour called for a cross party working group on poverty. Key turned the offer down.  Report after report after report has condemned the rate of poverty in this country, and called on the government to act. Meanwhile 40,000 kids are fed by charities and up to 80,000 are going to school hungry. National has responded with complete denial of the issues, saying that the government is already doing enough to help families feed their kids. Organisations working with the poor say that Key is in poverty ‘la la land’.

The Nats refuse to even measure the problem (though they certainly believe in measurement and goals when it suits them to bash beneficiaries). In a 2012 summary of the government’s targets and goals John Armstrong wrote: “Glaringly absent is a target for reducing child poverty”…

The costs of child poverty are in the range of $6-8 Billion per year, but the Nats refuse to spend the $2 Billion that would be needed to really make a difference. Even in purely economic terms National’s attitude makes no sense.


23 comments on “Poverty Watch 19”

  1. Afewknowthetruth 1

    At least NZers are not invited to eat horsemeat labelled as beef…….yet.

    • QoT 1.1

      Nothing wrong with horsemeat, it’s the mis-labelling that people should be outraged by.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1


      • rosy 1.1.2

        Not only mislabelling, but the lack of knowledge by the food producers about what is in the food they’re selling and the failure of food safety controls.

        • fatty

          Good point Rosy…a complex web of untraceable meat and a deskilled workforce who have no reason to care for their job.
          Neoliberalism creates a race to the bottom…if horse meat is cheaper that week, then you look the other way and throw a few mares in the mincer.

  2. karol 2

    As long as it isn’t (insert name of meat) labelled as vegetarian.

  3. I keep saying we are past the age of growth, at some stage we are going back to the cave, from here to there is going to be bloody horrible, ‘we’ are going to see a reverse of what has happened in the last 200 – 500? years or so, all the atrocities man has subjected man to are going to come back, as we transcend, this plunge off the energy/resources cliff . As food becomes less available, and humans become surplus to requirements, you/your children will see more and more poverty, to the point of tripping over dead and dying people in the streets, or being tripped over.
    And just to add another nail to the coffin of this failed experiment, climate change is as good as runway now, we are heading into unknown temperatures, the only ‘known’ is mammals do not exists above certain temps, which the environment is fast heading beyond.
    We are like a DU tipped missile, we’ve hit the wall and are powering our way through it.

    It wouldn’t matter if John Key woke up tomorrow morning as Jesus Christ, and Gerry as Mother Teresa, nothing can stop what is unfolding
    Unfortunately with Key able to technically print 300 million a week in bullshit ‘borrowing’ they can keep the game going just that little bit longer, for them who ends up with the most toys winds, but we all die. Just a lot sooner than most of you and they recon.

    • The Al1en 3.1

      Stephen Joyce has it all covered at the super ministry, just let him fix nova pay first before he gets on to the easy stuff.

    • Afewknowthetruth 3.2

      Well said Robert. You could have noted that Labour set the ball rolling down the slippery slope to catastrophe for NZ by refusing to do anything to prepare for Peak Oil when there was still time to do so. Indeed, Labour is still deeply into denial of reality and continues to pretend the present system has a future, even as it all turns to custard. As are the Greens, of course.

    • @ Robert Atack,

      ‘we’ are going to see a reverse of what has happened in the last 200 – 500? years or so, all the atrocities man has subjected man to are going to come back, as we transcend, this plunge off the energy/resources cliff .

      Unsure why you use future tense on some of your statements. We already are seeing a reversal and many atrocities.

      • Colonial Viper 3.3.1

        Exactly. I would say RA knows this – we are a civilisation far into overshoot and now suffering from energy depletion and climate change. By my estimates theere has been no real organic economic growth in the world for roughly the last 10 years, it’s been a bumpy plateau of an illusion held up by money printing and debt.

        And in the last 5-6 years, we have started hitting the downslope of the curve in earnest.

        And as the pie shrinks, the elites and the upper middle class are going to stop at nothing to prop up their lifestyle expectations and sense of entitlement.

        • Robert Atack

          Just skim watched the below documentary, the Warsaw ghetto is where most cities are going to end up …. before they hit – The Road.

          Warsaw Ghetto: The Unfinished Film
          The Warsaw Ghetto housed 440,000 Polish Jews and Roma during World War II. Typhus, starvation and random murders killed over 100,000 of the ghetto’s residents even before the Nazis began the massive deportations to the Treblinka extermination camp.

          Yet the Nazis created a mysterious propaganda film that juxtaposed meticulously staged scenes of Jews enjoying a life of luxury in the ghetto with other, chilling images that required no staging at all.

          After the war, filmmakers and museums – unaware of the deception – used images from the film as objective illustrations of life in the ghetto, which subsequently became engraved as historical truth.

          With contributions from ghetto survivors and one of the German cameramen, Warsaw Ghetto: The Unfinished Film reveals how the Nazis used the ghetto as a film set, the inhabitants as actors and the decaying bodies as exhibits, and examines how far we can trust historic images.


          The Road

  4. xtasy 4

    Work or bloody benefits, it seems to be treated differently in Sweden, than it does here.

    NZ has joined the laissez faire, neo lib, neo capitalist, follow up Reagan, Thatcher and “Chicago Boys” social and economic systems, that also culminated in a socially minded, socialist president and government in Chile being overthrown and replaced by a bloody dictatorship under US favourite General Pinochet in 1973.

    The “Chicago Boys” and US capitalism reclaimed Chile, its mines and wealth, the regime killed or rather murdered about 3000 unwanted dissidents, and Pinochet got on with “the job”.

    In NZ it has not gone quite that far, but we have a dumbed down populace, the media is firmly in right wing, private control, “news” are just about crime, antisocial behaviour, the weather, accidents, celeb gossip, a few one-liners by increasingly irrelevant political actors, and deliver NO information, NO education and make the people feel like dumb, ignorant players in a game, where their role is nothing more of an irrelevant side spectator.

    So since Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson after that ruined this country, shifted a large section into generational hopelessness and poverty, we now have governments blame the victims for the deeds the perpetrators committed against them.

    How a disgustingly unjust, shameful society has NZ become?

    We now face welfare reforms punishing the poor even more, by forcing “social obligations”, drug testing, and many other sanctions on them, challenge the sick and disabled to look for jobs and compete with fit and healthy that cannot find work.

    For f*** sake, is this bloody real?

    Sack this damned government and send them into the mines on the West Coast (the PM and his ministers, and MPs) to earn a living through sweat and facing danger, so they learn what basic life down the bottom looks like.

    Shame on this government and NZ as a whole, that the public let all this happen and let John Key and his gang get away with division, hatred and marginalising so many.

  5. Binders full of viper- women 5

    Ahh Sweden, Finland…. dig a little deeper and you might find that in some ways they are quite conservative.. not in a tory kind of way… just in a way that they probably wouldn’t have a situation we have of a 19 year old ‘father’ of 13 babies and children to different women and girls. I can’t see anything other than grinding poverty for those 13 kids 🙁

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      That would be because you that the father should provide everything rather than society helping those that belong to it.

    • @ Binders full of viper-women
      Could you at least try and sound like you understand the subject?
      Please explain to me how a father fathering 13 babies is relevant to the problems that this post is describing? Are you suggesting that these 15-26 people are the source of all NZ’s poverty woes? I would be very interested to know how these 15-26 people have such an impact on the other 4 million plus?

      p.s. I suggest that you refer to “girls” as “young women” in future. Unless there was some divine intervention involved, it is humanly impossible for a “girl” to bear a child. Were you also not aware of that?

  6. “Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land, they own and control the corporations that’ve long since bought and paid for, the senate, the congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pocket, and they own all the big media companies so they control just about all of the news and the information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them.” – George Carlin

  7. Great post Anthony, Sad yet very comprehensive.
    It appears that Nact are not very bright, and perhaps they can only grasp the concept of “making the graphs go up” and haven’t cottoned onto the fact that its good when some graphs charting statistics “go down”.

    😕 Nacts are graph zombies.

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