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LINDSAY MITCHELL: Child poverty - complex or simple?

Question: Do you understand how the child poverty statistics are derived?


Clearly some people do not.


Last week the latest child poverty statistics were all over the media. But there are a number of misunderstandings that need addressing. Like this one from NewstalkZB’s John MacDonald who wrote:


"Living in households that get-by on less than half the median income, before basic living costs are taken into account. 

Now I’ve looked-up online to find out what the median income is in New Zealand and there seems to be all sorts of numbers available, but one figure I’ve seen is $91,400. So, let’s go with that one, for the purposes of today’s discussion. 

Half of that is $45,700. So, it’s kids living in households where less than $45k is coming in the door annually.  

With tax, that takes it down to about $38,000. Or about $730-a-week to live off."


But the median income Stats NZ produces isn’t actual – it’s equivalised. In the past I have attempted to explain how this process works, probably unsuccessfully. But now Stats NZ has helpfully produced a pictorial explaining the process:




 

The first household becomes relatively rich compared to the third household. But in reality, their household incomes are identical.


Similarly RNZ demonstrated their misunderstanding reporting:


"One in six children (or 17.5 percent) lived in households with less than half of the median household disposable income after household costs - that was up 3 percentage points on last year."


In this case the median household income has been described as “disposable”. That’s wrong too.


The disposable income of a household is all income ‘earned’ by members aged 15 or older after taxes and transfers. Disposable income then undergoes equivalisation for the purposes of creating official child poverty statistics.


Teresa Tepenia-Ashton of Unicef said:


“It’s unacceptable for a single child to be in poverty in this country. With 1 in 8 children experiencing material hardship, we need Government to prioritise the interests of children in any decisions relating to welfare changes, so we can bring this number down to zero.”


A target of zero children in poverty is an impossibility because of the way poverty is measured. It is relative.  Zero poverty could only occur if every single household in NZ had the same equivalised income. It’s pure nonsense (similar to other ludicrous loony-tune ideas like Road to Zero 2030, Predator Free 2050 and Smoke Free Aotearoa 2025.)


There’s also been a great deal of handwringing over the higher poverty rates for Māori and Pasifika children.  But that is at least partly a facet of the equivalisation process. Pacific households in particular tend to be large, include children and are often inter-generational. It follows that their equivalised incomes will therefore be lower than households with fewer members.


The complexity inherent in the multiple measures of child poverty does nothing to instil confidence in their veracity. What the complexity does do is create a bias towards overstating poverty – a useful tool for proponents of greater wealth redistribution.


I tend towards a simple view. One which rarely rates a mention. The strongest correlate for child poverty is the rate of single parenthood. In New Zealand it is high. Among Māori it is very high.


Fixing that – an outcome largely in the hands of individuals – will go a long way towards reducing childhood hardship and deprivation.



Lindsay Mitchell blogs here

 

 

 

 

 

2,384 views60 comments

60 comentários


Ian Deynzer
Ian Deynzer
28 de fev.

Let's face it, no government intervention will ever solve the issue of poverty. It has been proven time & time again in many countries that in the vast majority of cases, beneficiaries become more & more dependent on social welfare and their sense of entitlement increases inversely proportional to their sense of personal responsibility.


This puts enormous pressure on taxpayers/working population burdened and government services until it becomes unaffordable and more importantly unequitable. The coalition government is now in the difficult position of reversing this trend. The only solution is to put responsibility onto iwi and Māori leaders to address their own problems in a more resourceful manner using the logic explained in the below video:


https://youtube.com/shorts/uV_H224U2iM?si=cFielo-Iw7hxN2Jq

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Aaron Shanahan
Aaron Shanahan
29 de fev.
Respondendo a

The only way to solve child poverty is to work your guts out for that child and believe you.are making a difference.

Poverty is not measured by what you own, or percieve to be as an individual, poverty, true poverty is having the right stripped away from yourself to make your and your families lives better. Poverty =socialim


True


Aaron 👍


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basilwnz
basilwnz
28 de fev.

"Since this is an era when many people are concerned about 'fairness' and 'social justice,' what is your 'fair share' of what someone else has worked for?"

Thomas Sowell


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Aaron Shanahan
Aaron Shanahan
27 de fev.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the topic you've presented administratior, but I'm telling you all right now I heard old stu Nash on the Hosking breakfast show this morning just go absolutely bloody troppo and launch he did ,jeepers, he just got ducks nuts deep stuck in ,and planted the old shit stick fair up the shitter of his previous employer, the old boss mister ginger nuts wore it hard, and is that not the reading of the pedigree of the century from a previous minister to the previous administration that was

served up and whacked

like a bloody Venus Williams backhand or what??? Game set and bloody match right there Stuart Nash. What a bloody unadulterated …


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Aaron Shanahan
Aaron Shanahan
27 de fev.
Respondendo a

Not quite sure how to to take that but mark whalberg it's a pleasure and a bloody lovely day when I hear from you again. Truly meant fella and I do mean it very sincerely.

You take care and get the bloody emails fired up again mate. Serious as. Aaron 👍


Curtir

Seems to me that if the measure of child poverty is where the child's household income is less than half the national median income, it follows that any increase in the median will immediately increase the number of children living in poverty. Funny old world isn't it?

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The best way to reduce child 'povvidy' in this country is for a bunch of super wealthy individuals to leave the country, thereby reducing the average income.

LOL

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Aaron Shanahan
Aaron Shanahan
27 de fev.
Respondendo a

Adroit and very droll Andrew, well said.

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