Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Teen parents - a real difference

I wanted to get the whole picture before I wrote this post. Yesterday some detail arrived from MSD.

For years I have agitated about the long-term DPB population being derived from teenage births. The children of these parents form the most at-risk group.

But from 2008 the number of teenage births started dropping. In 2013 there were 29 percent fewer than in 2009.

But even better, at March 2009 there were 4,425 teenage parents on any main benefit. By March 2014 the number had dropped to 2,560. A 42 percent reduction.

The really important news is it's happening across all ethnicities.The proportions are reasonably stable.

In 2009, 52 percent were Maori; in 2013, 55 percent.

For Pacific Island, the proportion rose slightly from 9 to 11 percent.

NZ European dropped from 29 to 25 percent.

The percentage who are aged 16-17 dropped from slightly from 16.5 to 15%.

The percentage who are male is unchanged 4%.

This means thousands fewer children experiencing poor outcomes - ill-health, disconnect from education,  in and out of fostercare, potentially abused and neglected, having the cards stacked against them from the outset.

Thousands of would-be teen mums will keep their own lives and  potential, and hopefully have children when they are ready to.

It's a fantastic development.

National deserve at least some credit for it with their new young parent mentoring and benefit management regime.


Brendan McNeill said...


That is fantastic news. Thank you for sharing it.

Can it all be attributed to National's welfare policy changes do you think, or are there other factors at work?

Could the awful lives that so many of these mothers and their children live be starting to provide a 'wake up' example to their peers, or those following on behind?

I'd like to think a subtle policy change could bring about these great results, but it seemed such a minor change...

I guess Family Planning, the sex without context advocates will step up to take the credit. :-)

Anonymous said...

I also think it is fantastic, but I don't think National can take much of the credit (though they may be entitled to a bit).

The same think is happening in the USA

and the UK

and more generally around the western world.

Having said that it would be great to see the Maori rate dropping faster than the rest given they are disproportionately represented. It would do more to lift them out of poverty than any government policy you could name.

It is a pity that Turia didn't pick on that as her campaign. It would have done even more good that her quit smoking one. However, perhaps she thought it was a lost cause -- because I noted that the 19 year old son of the Maori king is expecting a baby sometime soon.

Lindsay Mitchell said...


Primarily I think there is a cultural change underway. Because of tv and social media the western world current fashions (or anti-fashions) spread fairly quickly. The US has probably led this turn against wanting to be a very young mum.

But other quick reasons:
1 The GFC
2 More effective and more accessible contraception
3 Kids having sex later (?) some evidence.

And one I jokingly put to Bob McCoskrie as the silver lining to same sex marriage and the stigma reducing - fewer females are having heterosexual sex??

(The abortion rate has also dropped.)