Saturday, December 09, 2017

Update on sole parent economic situation

An interesting graph from the Briefing to Incoming Social Development Minister:

After the In Work tax credit came in the gap between being on a benefit and working for the minimum wage opened up.

This has undoubtedly contributed to the fall in the number of benefit-dependent sole parents. But anti-child poverty activists want the in work tax credit paid to all beneficiaries. This will be a sticky issue for the new government. Their families package (especially the payment for babies aged 0-2) will effectively close the gap anyway.

Another interesting fact from the Briefing. Maori represent 15% of the population but "48 percent of Sole Parent Support recipients."

Here's a table from my own 2008 paper, Maori and Welfare:

It would appear the employment status of Maori sole parents is not improving as quickly as the general population.

A question remains that I have not had time to properly research. While the number of sole parent support recipients continues to drop...

... it must be remembered that many are now moved onto jobseeker support as their youngest child reaches 14. There may also be some migration onto the supported living benefit positively affecting the drop. The Briefing stresses that "The proportion of clients with mental health conditions has been growing substantially over time."


Psycho Milt said...

This has undoubtedly contributed to the fall in the number of benefit-dependent sole parents.

It may have. But shouldn't we expect to see this number falling anyway, due to the fall in teen pregnancy rates from 2008 onwards? Earlier this year it was reported the teen pregnancy rate was half what it was in 2008, so I'd expect to see a serious falling off in sole-parent beneficiaries over that time. I'm not sure it has anything to do with government policy.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Quite right. The drop in teenage birthrate is occurring across western countries. The most original but compelling suggestion I have encountered is that virtual sex is replacing real sex. Nevertheless the reforms that stopped teenagers getting access to full benefits in NZ may have been a factor locally.

And I remain sure that making work pay for sole parents has encouraged the better motivated into work. It was a Labour policy PM, not National. Tax credits are arguably still a form of 'welfare' but if they mean children grow up with a working parent, that's good enough reason to accept them.