Wednesday, January 13, 2016

'Don't blame child poverty on tobacco and alcohol'

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The child poverty activists are especially busy at the moment. They are using the above graph to show that the poor are not spending more money on alcohol and tobacco than the rich. It follows then that expenditure on alcohol and tobacco is not a 'blame' factor in child poverty.

It is my experience that the 'poor' often prefer cannabis to alcohol but is there any evidence to back this?

Yes. Ministry of Health data shows that in the poorest quintile, 7 percent of adults use cannabis "at least weekly" compared to 1.6 percent in the wealthiest quintile.

But back to alcohol and tobacco. The low income groups relevant to child poverty are parents, sole mothers especially.   But the elderly living on Super alone will feature heavily in the lowest income deciles in the above graph quite possibly lowering the average alcohol and tobacco spend. If you look at tobacco usage among one group particularly pertinent to child poverty ie Maori mothers, their smoking rates and tobacco spending are much higher (albeit trending down).

Take the latest smoking during pregnancy data for the Hutt DHB:

From Counties-Manukau DHB the picture is similar:

And referring back to the data about cannabis use, "Māori women were 2.3 times more likely than non-Māori women to have used cannabis in the last 12 months".

If the activists consider alcohol and tobacco expenditure relevant to the issue, so is spending on cannabis. Also a more detailed analysis of expenditure on alcohol and tobacco by families with dependent children is necessary to draw any sound conclusion about its contribution or otherwise to child poverty.


JC said...

I call BS on (the interpretation) of the smoking and alcohol graph.

Earlier studies you have shown here have lowest deciles smoking rates at around 30% reducing to about 7% for the highest deciles.

A pack of smokes a day would cost about $140 per week and will be 50% of some benefits.

A low income is also pretty meaningless in determining actual poverty.. again you have shown research here that over 80% of low earners believe they have enough income to meet their needs.

There are about 5 times more people on superannuation as there are solo mothers and all the many single young people with no dependents on benefits are less likely to smoke these days.. take all these out and lets have a look at what happens to the most vulnerable groups.

And of course, if poor people spend so little on smokes and alcohol we would have few related problems with health, crime, road statistics, child abuse and neglect, persistent poverty, relationship breakups, misuse of drugs and psychological problems.


Jd said...

arrr the insights of the margin ...

Anonymous said...

Rich people spend their own money.

"Poor" people spend MY money.

That's the crucial difference.

Anonymous said...

more to the point - so is spending on luxuries like all that sugar our commissars are so worried about: soft drink, chocolate, chippies, junk foods, McDonalds, fush'n'chups and of course xboxes and phones and iPods and god knows what else. league tickets. visits to family.skateboards. hover boards. drones