this article in the herald was published a few days ago, and raises concerning trends amongst asian families:
Pacific and Maori young still have by far the highest rates of poverty-related illness, but the Maori rate dropped steeply from 58 hospital admissions for poverty-linked conditions for every 1000 kids in 2012 to 52 for every 1000 people last year.
The Asian rate has almost doubled from 21 hospital admissions for every 1000 Asian children in 2000, and 29 in 2007 before the recession started, to 40 admissions for every 1000 children last year.
and then there’s this:
The Asian population has roughly doubled from 238,000 in the 2001 census to 472,000 last year. Asian children increased at a slightly slower rate, from 56,000 to 97,000, while adults aged 30-plus increased at the fastest rate, from 113,000 to 242,000.
The poverty monitor shows that 28 per cent of all children in the “Asian/Other” ethnic group lived in homes earning below 60 per cent of the median household income per person in the past three years, compared with 30 per cent of both Maori and Pacific children and 15 per cent of European children.
Overcrowding rates in the last Census were also highest for children of Pacific (47 per cent), Maori (25 per cent) and Asian (21 per cent) ethnicity, compared with 5 per cent of European children.
the health expert quoted in the article rightly pointed to one of the factors affecting these numbers: that the asian population is maturing ie they are more established, an increasing number of asian new zealanders are born in this country rather than migrate to it. with a migrant population, the government has been cherry-picking those migrants that have skills, financial stability and good health. once that population becomes established, then the cherry-picking effect is lost.
what is missing from the article, what is being left unsaid is the R word – racism. the migrant population, under current conditions, can’t get here or stay here without a firm job offer (at least that’s how i understand it, happy to be corrected). but once the population is more established and also if the migrants (now residents) lose their current job, then it’s harder for them to get into the job market. discrimination in employment is a real thing, there’s plenty of evidence to show that a foreign sounding name reduces the chances of a person being able to get a job. if asians can’t access jobs, and if they can’t access well-paying jobs, then poverty is the result.
if they can’t access jobs, a more settled population will be able to access benefits, unlike non-residents on work permits. however, given the issues around the difficulty of getting a benefit and the fact that benefits are not enough to live on, this will also lead to higher levels of poverty within the asian population.
so, many asians become self-employed, running their own businesses. except that there has been a recession as well as a lack of a coherent and comprehensive economic development strategy from the government. during the election campaign, i talked to a lot of small business owners and many are struggling. self-employment is not lifting people out of poverty, or at least not as many people.
racism also applies to housing. even though it’s a breach of the human rights act, many asians are denied access to rental property on the basis of race. again, there’s plenty of evidence of this kind of thing happening. how much that feeds into the overcrowding stats, i don’t know. and there is no doubt that lack of access to job also affects the ability to access decent housing.
the saddest part of this report is that things are even worse for maori and pasifika populations; that they have had it this bad for so long and that we, as a society, are willing to live with this kind of inequality.
(note: i got the image from here, don’t know where they got it from)