Wednesday, October 17, 2012

One in four children at medium or high risk of poor outcomes

Statistics NZ has just released a report into vulnerable children and families. The findings are from a survey of 8,000 individuals aged 15 or more. First they identified risk factors (as they applied to the survey respondent) and then categorised children by the degree they were exposed to those factors.

Risk factor Percent
Current cigarette smoker  21 
Victim of crime in last 12 months  20 
Living in a high deprivation area  20 
Feeling isolated some, most, or all of the time  17 
Poor mental health  15 
Victim of discrimination in last 12 months  12 
Low economic standard of living, based on ELSI  11 
More than one housing problem 10
Living in an overcrowded house 9
Limited access to facilities  8 
Poor physical health  8 

Number and proportion of children by risk group
April 2010–March 2011
Number of risk factors Number of children
(aged under 18 years)
Proportion of children (%)
No risk  328,000  30 
Low risk 1–2  482,000  45 
Medium risk  3–4  201,000  19 
High risk  5+  67,000 
Source: Statistics New Zealand

Then they looked at the correlation between benefit income and risk

Households that received benefit income in the last 12 months, by risk group, April 2010–March 2011.

And the correlation between family type and risk

 Household by family type and risk group, April 2010–March 2011.

Remember ex Minister for Social Development Steve Maharey and his claim, "I know of no social science that says the nuclear family is more successful than other kinds."

I don't think the Tui billboards were around then but this absurdity would have been a prime candidate.

The report also looks at ethnicity and age of mother and turns up no surprises.

 "Nearly 43 percent of households in the high-risk group had a Māori respondent, compared with 8 percent in the no-risk group"

Respondents that selected Māori ethnicity, by risk group, April 2010–March 2011.

"1 in 5 high-risk and medium-risk households contain a young mother, compared with 1 in 20 in the no-risk group."

Households with young mothers, by risk group, April 2010–March 2011.

NOTE finally that the report states,  

"The selected risk factors are related to health, housing, income adequacy, neighbourhood, social connections, crime, and discrimination. The measures are not exhaustive and information on other possible risk factors, such as parental drug or alcohol abuse, is not covered by the survey. As some risk factors are linked to the individual respondent, not the household as a whole, this report will understate the number of households and children at risk."

So the actual picture is probably worse. Considerably.


Brendan said...

Thanks Lindsay

Compelling stats that speak for themselves.

Eric Crampton said...

Lindsay, did they ever tie these risk factors into particular bad outcomes for which they are risks? I mean, was there prior work showing that these specific things independently and significantly made someone more likely to experience bad outcomes? Or are they just things that somebody doesn't like?

David said...

Thanks Lindsay. This is helpful analysis. It should be compulsory reading for the Minister for Social Development & other MPs.