Thursday, February 15, 2007

Dubious UNICEF statistics

Simon Collins has reported overnight on the new Unicef Innocenti Research Centre's seventh set of international league tables.

First, some of the figures are hopelessly out of date, and second, some are quite dubious. Here's an example;

On average, 95 per cent of the children in developed countries live in homes where at least one parent is in paid work.

New Zealand fell slightly below the average when these figures were gathered in 2000, with only 93 per cent of children living with a parent in paid work. Only six countries, including Australia and Britain, scored lower.

Bearing in mind the number of children living in households dependent on benefits has dropped due to the lower number of people on the dole, the current percentage of children living in households with a parent in paid work couldn't be above 84 percent, and that's a generous estimate based on latest Census and MSD figures.

It was certainly lower than that seven years ago.


Only population estimates would have been available in 2000. So using Census 2001 figures and adjusting them slightly to reflect change since 1996, there were 1,150,400 0-19 year-olds. So the percentage of children in benefit dependent homes in 2000 was 25 percent. Even allowing for 1 in 6 of their parents doing some paid work the actual percentage of children living in a household with at least one working parent was 79 percent - not 93.

Then let's look at what happens if we observe a stricter definition of 'child' (14 and under). The percentage drops to 71 percent.

That's a significant difference in anybody's language.


Brian Smaller said...

This UNICEF study also said we have high hospital admissions for children with some immplication that we don't look after children etc etc. I wonder how many of those admissions are for injuries that kids get either playing outside or playing sports. My son is responsible for two admissions in the past four years. Fell off a swing and crashed his bike trying a stunt.

Dave said...

in that many beneficiaries are in paid work - just not full time. These beneficaries are not " reliant on a benefit" they are using the benefit as a top up to their work - if htey are actualy declaring their income that is....

Lindsay said...

Dave, I had this discussion with you the other day . Only a minority of people on a main benefit work. Of all working-age beneficiaries only 16-17 percent have another source of income. Which I have accounted for in my workings.

Are you suggesting around 100,000 kids have a parent on a benefit working under the table?

That is one of only two reasons I can think of for such a discrepancy. The other is that some children spend time in two households. They live primarily in their mothers home. She has to have the lion share of care to qualify for the benefit. They also spend time at Dad's place and he is working. But the first situation is their 'official' home.

The report sourced it's information from an OECD database which is not on line so I can't find out where they got it the moment.