Saturday, December 21, 2013

Children continue to be added to benefits

As mentioned previously, it gets increasingly difficult to get timely information out of MSD.  I only now have the complete answer to a question asked on September 12.

Proceeding on the basis that policies often provoke an anticipatory effect, I was interested in any data that might show one resulting from the government's well-publicised, controversial intention to deter people from adding a child to their benefit by work-testing them when the child turns one.

First, from a cabinet paper, we know that the annual average of 'subsequent children' born to parents on a benefit 2006 - 2010 was 4,800 annually.*

I have data from October 15, 2012 (when the subsequent child policy came into force) to June 30, 2013 - 8.5 months which shows 3,646 working age clients in receipt of a main benefit added a child.

If the data is simply extrapolated out over a full year, the rate at which people are adding children has actually increased slightly. Of course that might not prove to be the case if over the remaining period up to October 15, 2013 the number drops significantly.

There is one noticeable difference.

Of the annual 4,800 added in the period  2006 - 2010, 88 percent were added to the DPB.

Of the 3,646 added between October 15, 2012 and June 30, 2013, 81 percent were added to the DPB.

The primary difference lies in more people adding a child to the unemployment benefit, reflecting higher unemployment.

Of the most recent group, 54 percent were Maori, 24 percent were NZ European, a third were aged 24 or younger, and 13 percent were male. Again the difference between Maori and Pacific behaviour shows up with only 12 percent of the beneficiaries being Pacific Island - only a slight over-representation given their very young population.

Anyway, I guess the answer to my question is, no.

(*In a small number of cases the child could be adopted or put into the care of a non-parent or grand-parent.)


Anonymous said...

Will you finally admit that the so-called welfare "reforms" have been nothing more than renaming the benefits

Anonymous said...

It is not clear to me from the data you present that the "added children" are born to beneficiaries or perhaps are with parents newly on the benefit. If what you are trying to say is "I don't like paying tax so people can breed" then I think that is fair enough.

Anonymous said...

I think you need to factor in 9 months to your analysis.

Lindsay Mitchell said...


This data refers to children being added to an existing benefit.

Thousands more become dependent before they are aged one with a parent/caregiver new or returning to the benefit system.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

I was looking for an anticipatory effect. That is, people change their behaviour in advance of the policy being implemented.

Certainly the data that shows how many people continue to get add children 9 months after the policy was introduced will be more interesting and indicative.

M. said...

Maybe there's an objection to birth control on religious grounds? God help us!