Sunday, October 12, 2014

Study baffles

Growing up in New Zealand (GuiNZ) is an Auckland University study described as:

"Growing Up in New Zealand is the country’s largest, and most ethnically and economically diverse, longitudinal study as it follows 7,000 children and their families, recruited from across the greater Auckland and the Waikato regions, as they grow up in contemporary New Zealand."
The children were mainly born in 2009. Researchers interviewed mother in the antenatal period; when the child was 9 months and then when the child was 2.

This is the household structure at 2 years.

I find this very odd. It is certainly not nationally representative of sole parent families.

MSD research into sole parenting shows:


And consistent with that is data from the Child Health Monitor  produced by the University of Otago.

The graph below shows the percentage and age of children reliant on benefits at June 2013. There is little change from prior years.

Figure 2. Proportion of All Children Aged 0–17 Years who were Reliant on a Benefit Recipient by Age and Benefit Type, New Zealand June 2013

Back to the household structure of the cohort, one explanation may be that a high number of sole parents live in the 'parent(s)' with extended family' households.

Yet according to the Household Incomes Survey

"Around one in three SP families (EFUs) live in households with other adults." (p156)
That would push the 5 percent  sole parent households up to 7.5% sole parent families.

Still well below national figures.

These are the absolute numbers for sole mother households:


 Yet when compared to the numbers receiving an income-tested benefit they also seem too low.


These percentages are  closer to those measuring young benefit-dependent children across the population (approx 24 percent). Some of the shortfall might be explained by recruit drop-out.

There is no benefit breakdown information in the 2 year report and it occurred to me to request the raw data but guess how much that would cost? About $3,800.00

 So what have we got?

15.9 percent of the study children living on benefit income at 2 years but only 5% in single parent households.

Yet the vast majority of children on welfare rely on the DPB (refer back to Child Health monitor above).

The only conclusion I can draw is that in the recruitment area - Auckland, Counties Manukau, Waikato - unusually high numbers of sole parents live in extended households.

The study claims, "The Growing up in New Zealand cohort is broadly generalisable to the curent New Zealand population..."

Is it? I have been looking at the numbers too long. Am I missing something obvious?

There is another interesting implication here.

Sole parents who live in extended households have a much lower poverty rate than those who live in  separately - only 23 percent versus 69% (Household Incomes Survey).

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