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Social Report shows Kiwis better off

Written By: - Date published: 12:30 pm, August 28th, 2008 - 31 comments
Categories: crime, culture, economy, education, election 2008, families, health, housing, human rights, Social issues, wages, welfare - Tags:

MSD released its Social Report today, an annual publication that collates a wide variety of standard of living measures, and produces this awesome graph. The circle represents the status quo in 1995-97 each spoke represents a different measure (income, crimes per capita etc). If the spoke is longer than the circle than the measure has improved between 1995-97 and 2005-07; if it is shorter that measure has become worse.

[large version, p138] Nearly every metric shows signficant improvement over living standards a decade ago (obesity is a notable exception).

As you can see the ‘Population with low incomes’ metric has improved dramatically. This metric measures the portion of households with ‘low incomes’ (defined as 60% of the median household income, after housing costs); essentially, it’s the poverty rate. In the mid-90s, 23% of households were in this situation; today the number is 12%. For the first time since the Social Report started in 2001, the  figures show a reduction in income equality from a decade ago. The gap between rich and poor grew in the 1990s under National and has decreased under the Left-wing governments. Now, we have finally made up the ground lost under National.

There will be more posts once I’ve had time to read the report in detail. I recommend having a look; it’s an educating read. Nothing in it will stop the Kiwiblog Right claiming living standards in New Zealand are plummeting but then when did they ever let the facts get in the way of a good rant?

31 comments on “Social Report shows Kiwis better off ”

  1. lukas 1

    running diversion today?

  2. Wayne 2

    God that’s moronic lukas. It’s the effing Social Report!

  3. lukas, you fool, the release of the today report was announced two weeks ago

  4. I’m surprised “housing affordability” hasn’t dropped more. But then I forgot that state house tenants and Working For Families qualifiers saw their housing costs go down. My mortgage certainly didn’t.

  5. Sarah 5

    Is anyone from the standard going to comment on the fact that Helen Clark has blown her whole secret agenda out in the open today? Or is that privelege only restricted to the National Party?

    She knew Winston Peters was, at best, providing contrary evidence to that of which he was reporting to the media, and at worst, a lieing misinformed hypocrite.

    Yet our glorious PM neither informed the public or the media that she knew of this contrary evidence even when this whole issue was being discussed all around the country.

    Surely the PM of all people should be the one to provide honesty and transparency?

    If this blog is to be taken seriously at all, someone oh someone please comment on this issue and give us whatever spin you can possibly muster.

    [Tane: For heaven’s sake, we all have busy jobs and other activities in our lives. One of us will eventually get around to commenting, but we’re not a bloody news service, we’re a blog where people express their personal opinions as time allows. If you don’t like that there are plenty of other blogs for you to read.]

    [lprent: I second that. This comment could be construed as “The commentator is a moron who writes before thinking”]

  6. r0b 6

    This report shows steady improvement for NZ over the last decade.

    Right wing pundits will of course claim that The Gummint had nothing to do with it – must have been market forces or something.

    But I think that the voters will know better. These last three Labour led governments have been good for the people of NZ. Keep Labour on, and the slow but steady improvements will continue.

    Nice to have this report coming out today to remind us that politics is about and for the lives of the people (not Winston’s dirty laundry).

  7. toad 7

    There are some worrying statistics though.

    As Sue Bradford pointed out today, it shows housing affordability for Maori and Pacific households has worsened since 2004; that the household crowding rate for Maori is more than double that of the general population; and that crowding for Pacific people is quadruple the New Zealand total.

    Hosuing is one social policy areas where the Government hasn’t done all that well. Keep an eye out for the Green housing policy – it is due to be released on Monday evening.

  8. r0b 8

    Is anyone from the standard going to comment on the fact that

    Steve has made a relevant comment here:

    Herald poll shows Nats’ lead collapsing


    I guess there will probably be a thread about it later, but the authors here can’t always post things ten minutes ago!

    Helen Clark has blown her whole secret agenda out in the open today? Or is that privelege only restricted to the National Party?

    Yeah, the whole Secret Agenda and not trusted by half the public thing is pretty much National’s theme song. Whatever you want to call the Winston thing a secret agenda it ain’t.

    But anyway, instead of thread jacking this good news on social progress, why don’t you go follow on from Steve’s comment linked above?

  9. Rob 9

    Wait Question time is coming up in the House today. Annette King wants to postpone question time. Because Howard Broad needs to know if all the mps like the new stab proof vests and can he order some more. By the way he has made his decision but just wants to check.

    [lprent: Sigh – I just read that in the herald. Why don’t you put up a link? And what exactly does that have to do with this topic ? You were doing so well..]

  10. r0b 10

    Ahh – there you go Sarah, check it out:

    Clark cuts the thread

  11. r0b 11

    There are some worrying statistics though.

    Always Toad – we can always do better – and you ar equite right to point these out. I look forward to The Green’s policy.

  12. Dom 12

    Is this John Key’s astrological chart? That Mercury trine Saturn doesn’t bode well for his ability to hold together a government…

    Ah, nothing like posters desperate to comment so they do it in totally unrelated blog topics…

    [lprent: Posters post on what they wish to, not what you wish them to do. Commentators are guests, valued, but still guests. Roughly translated – it is hard to get good posters, but bad commentators are a dime a dozen.
    Read the About and Policy. ]

  13. Scribe 13

    There are some very good outcomes in this report. Some can be attributed to Labour, so well done.

    I think it’s a real shame the number of Maori speakers has decreased. I thought there were major initiatives in place to teach te reo — an admirable goal.

  14. Dom 14

    There are Scribe and they’re pretty good, but the number of older Te Reo speakers dying over the past few years has clearly outstripping those becoming proficient in the language…

  15. r0b 15

    There are some very good outcomes in this report. Some can be attributed to Labour, so well done.

    Bravo Scribe!

    If National ever run a long term government in the future, I very much hope that I will be able to say the same of them.

  16. Stephen 16

    Poverty and unemployment measures are good. Now, could one say that ‘it is very easy to reduce income inequality, you simply have to tax the high earners quite a lot, and distribute that tax to the lower earners’ ?

    I don’t particularly care if things are unequal (i’m aware of studies that show people DO care), as long as my own standard of living is getting better, so i’m not sure what the use is of measuring ‘income equality’ here.

  17. r0b 17

    Stephen – I don’t have time to chase the references, but there is plenty of research that shows that societies with less inequality are more stable, have less crime, have happier citizens etc…

  18. Felix 18

    lprent:

    I second that. This comment could be construed as “The commentator is a moron who writes before thinking”

    instead of thinking.

    There you go, fixed that for you.

  19. r0b, absolutely. It is no surprise that the world’s happiest countries are the the worlds most equal. They’re almost all very wealthy, but the strong social welfare models in these countries predate their income, not follow it.

    A fascinating picture of New Zealand. It shows where we’re doing well, and where we’re failing. If you’re a Pacific Island youth in South Auckland you’re far more likely to be poor, lonely, and struggling. Things like this are just the kind of evidence based policy-making instruments we need, rather than Governments and oppositions bending to the idiots who populate talkback radio (and increasingly the internet). I hope sanity prevails.

  20. imcheezy 20

    Even the obesity measure isn’t really that bad. More people can now afford to eat steak bernaise and play on their new Nintendo Wii, instead of keeping fit by going around burglarising houses and running away.

  21. Anita 21

    Dom,

    Re: Māori language proficiency

    There are Scribe and they’re pretty good, but the number of older Te Reo speakers dying over the past few years has clearly outstripping those becoming proficient in the language

    The report itself shows that the proportion of Māori speakers in the Māori population has decreased at every age groups between the 2001 and 2006 census.

    Disappointing really 🙁

  22. Show this graph to anyone trying to make a decent living also Perhaps if the country wants more Maori speakers, then on state sponsored visits to Marae’, tell the local tribe , not to tell the girls to shut up and sit in the back, sexism is never good, even when its someone’s culture.

  23. Anita 23

    Brett Dale,

    <boggles>”tribe”, “girls”</boggles>

  24. Matthew Pilott 24

    Sarah, isn’t this a wonderful outcome for New Zealand – doesn’t it mean so much more than a $100,000 donation to a minor party? Or are you so shallow and specious that it didn’t occur to you? Methinks yes… Same goes to Rob, without saying.

    Hi Brett. I’m trying to make a decent living. Have you got a point? No? Gee, what a surprise.

  25. lprent 25

    Man – I just had a look at the obesity issue. That is a real problem especially with the downstream costs

  26. imcheezy 26

    Gerry Brownlee is trying to solve this problem for the rest of us by graciously eating all the pies.

  27. Iprent, I had a look at the obesity section too. But having jumped there from the road safety section it was startlingly different. Compare:

    “The major drivers of the increase in obesity rates have been changing dietary and physical activity patterns, reflecting an environment that promotes the over-consumption of energy-dense foods and drinks and limits the opportunities for physical activity.”

    and…

    “There is no conclusive evidence on the reasons for the reduction in road casualties since 1986. Better roads and better vehicles, as well as legislation, enforcement and education aimed at reducing road casualties, may all have contributed to an improvement in drivers’ attitudes and behaviour.”

    So, in an area where we have incredibly detailed and accurate statistics going back almost a century “no conclusions can be drawn”, but where the statistics are broad, imprecise and mostly post-WWII we can identify the main causes and sub-causes?

    I’ll have to read through the whole report now to see which of these contradictory positions is dominant.

  28. Phil 28

    They should have added road congestion to the possible factors too – it’s quite difficult to drive off a road at 110kph, when you’re in the middle of a holiday weekend que doing 30.

  29. lprent 29

    I’ve played with quite a lot of stats over the years. That hardly surprises me.

    The main difference is between largely ‘solved’ and developing problems. Developing problems usually have quite clear causations.

    Solved (actually in-progress) problems typically have had a large amount of work already done on them. So all of the easy fixes have been long done. The moderate fixes have pretty much been done. You’re left with the bloody hard to quantify, really hard to justify, and a lot of little projects with lousy cost-benefits because of they are all experimental.

    Essentially a variant of Pareto’s law. Shows up in engineering, programming, and almost everything.

    So if you were looking at where you toss money to solve health issues, you probably wouldn’t toss it at roads. Ditto economic (after all wealth is created by people).

    I’d love to see some cost/benefit comparison between improving a road and reducing obesity at present. This is just a little stir bearing in mind your interest areas. I can actually see the same thing in the electioneering data I’m playing with at present (helping with peoples targeting) – the difference between mined (out) and virgin electorates.

  30. Iprent, Generally I would agree with you. On this occassion the comment seems to be consistent with someone who used the NRSC’s Road Safety Strategy 2010 Discussion Document as their source. That is very vague as to what the analysis of the improvements between ’87 and ’97 had actually revealed but it was rather clearly implied that most of those contributors had done their dash and couldn’t make any further contribution and it was very clear about where any future improvement would have to come from – either better roads and better vehicles or a lower alcohol limit and tougher enforcement of alcohol and speed. Because our road toll is amongst the worst in the OECD there are a lot of cost effective methods available to reduce the toll by 75%. Then we hit the law of diminishing returns big time. Of course, if we actually had a government politicly brave enough to implement the NRSC’s proposals over the next ten years despite the public opposition to paying the short-term price, we would hit that wall about the time that peak oil will be exerting it’s full impact so we could rely on that to stop any traffic growth in the foreseeable future and thus maintain the road toll at less than 100 deaths and 1000 serious injuries. That’s where the investment in roads and highways would keep paying a dividend for up to half a century. This is essentially a rural highway problem so we are not talking about something like congestion where huge spending today may be entirely redundant in twenty years.

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