Friday, February 21, 2014

Teenage births fall yet again

The birth rate of teenagers has been falling since 2008. The following data show that the numbers of births per 1,000 15-19 year-olds has fallen from 32.8 in 2008 to 22 last year (provisionally). The smaller number is the births to under 14 year-olds and younger:

0.3 31.3
0.3 32.8
0.2 29.4
0.2 28.8
0.2 25.8
0.1 24.9
2013 P 0.1 22.0

In absolute terms that means 1,902 fewer births. And as virtually all single teen parents go on welfare, 1426 fewer babies starting off on a benefit with the likelihood of staying there for many years. That is excellent.

Less of a good news story is that the fertility rate has dropped for every age resulting in the overall fertility rate falling below replacement at 1.95 births per woman.

Some regions have not declined, or barely: Gisborne, Manawatu, Marlborough, with Tasman and Nelson up very slightly.

The most significant reductions are Northland - 8%, West Coast - 7% (but that's off a low number) and Wellington 6%.

Overall the decrease in births on 2012 was 4 percent. That figure is shared by Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Otago and Southland.

Canterbury fell by only 1 percent.

Bill English on spending "other people's money"

Yesterday Bill English explained to Sue Moroney that it prioritises spending "other people's money" on those whose lives would most benefit from the expenditure. Even that spending is too much for at least one of my readers but frankly I'm with English on this approach.The promise of more middle class welfare is a vote buyer. A sharp focus on young people at risk of becoming lifelong beneficiaries is a far more pressing priority.
8. SUE MORONEY (Labour) to the Minister of Finance: Is it still his intention to use a financial veto against my Bill which proposes to extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): The Government has not made a final decision, but quite possibly.
Sue Moroney: Does he think a financial veto would be justified for a bill supporting families that would cost just $36 million in the forthcoming 2014-15 financial year?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Government will take into account a number of factors, including the fact that the cost rises pretty quickly after that. Another factor is that the focus of the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave) Amendment Bill excludes a significant number of families in much more difficult and challenging circumstances with much lower incomes, who may be more deserving of Government support.
Sue Moroney: What does the Minister of Finance propose to do for the families that he has just spoken of who miss out on paid parental leave?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: It would be a very long answer if I went through the wide range of ways in which the Government is endeavouring to help those families. They range from extensive investment through the investment approach—for instance, to get sole parent families out of welfare
dependency and into work, because when they do not have a job but they could have one, they are not eligible for paid parental leave at all. So that is just one measure, and there are many others.
Sue Moroney: Does he agree with the Prime Minister when he said in reference to the TÄ«wai Point subsidy that $30 million is not a major outlay, and does this cause him to reconsider his threatened use of the financial veto when it comes to a similar amount for families in this forthcoming financial year?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: As I think the member may have picked up over the last year or two, the Government is less focused on spending large amounts of money to try to show it cares—that is, other people’s money—and more focused on actually supporting the people who need it to change the course of their lives, which is what taxpayers expect us to do. So in that sense the amount of money is less important than the impact of the intervention, and we believe that there are other groups that are a higher priority for very necessary support from the Government, to bring some order and aspiration to lives that may be chaotic and lacking hope. The old Labour Party used to be interested in those families. The new Labour Party is not.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New art

Haven't posted any art for a while despite constantly producing. Here's a pup with a hard beginning. He's got a good home now but after I photographed him, I didn't want to just convey the 'cute' guy. He's still quite unsure and timid. So I put each embodiment of that in the sketch.

Good for me but not the country

A Fairfax Media poll threw up these results:

The poll also asks voters which of the two parties, National or Labour, is best for young families, best for growing the economy and best for closing the gap between the haves and have-nots. Labour trumped National as best for families, at 54.4 per cent to 34.4 per cent with 11.3 per cent undecided.
It was also streets ahead of National at closing the gaps, at 56.1 per cent to 29 per cent, and 14.9 per cent undecided. But National was seen as the safest pair of hands with the economy, at 63 per cent to Labour's 27.7 per cent.

The state of the economy directly impacts on social well-being and standard of living. If someone thinks that National is the better government for growing the economy, why would they, on the other hand, think National is the worse government for advancing family well-being?

Unless they think that Labour will ensure there is greater state redistribution of wealth, which is good for young families and closing the gaps, but reluctantly understand that it is not good for the economy.

Because what this poll is actually saying is some people believe what is good for them  is not necessarily good for the country. The big question then is how do they vote?

It's a bit like trying to decide whether to vote for the small picture or the big picture. Or for the present or the future. Or to borrow or save. It must present a real conflict in some households.

NZ women more violent than men in relationships?

Wendy McElroy is familiar to me. She is one of those rare women who question the pervasive bias towards females as the overwhelming victims of domestic violence.Through an Independent Newsletter she has drawn my attention to this 2006 paper :

Paper presented at conference on Trends In Intimate Violence Intervention, sponsored by theUniversity of Haifa and New York University. New York University, May 23, 2006.
Murray A. Straus
Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire
Durham, NH 03824 603-862-2594
The study investigated the widely held belief that violence against partners in marital,
cohabiting, and dating relationships is almost entirely perpetrated by men, and that when
women assault their partners, it has a different etiology than assaults by men. The empirical data on these issues were provided by 13,601 university students who participated in the International Dating Violence Study in 32 nations. The results in the first part of this papers how that almost a third of the female as well as male students physically assaulted a dating partner in the 12 month study period, and that the most frequent pattern was mutuality in violence, i.e. both were violent, followed by “fem
ale-only” violence. Violence by only the male partner was the least frequent pattern according to both male and female participants.
Yes, New Zealand participated.

Regarding physical violence, the reported assault rate was 27.9% (18th out of 32 rankings)

Male-Only 8.7%
Female-Only 28.2%

Of 32 nations NZ was 6th highest for Female-Only assault and 16th for Male-Only assault.The NZ sample was 132, 78 percent were female.

When it comes to "severe violence" the findings look subject to sampling shortfall,  but I provide them anyway:

Male-Only 0%
Female-Only 60%
Both violent 40%

The male result is bottom of the rankings and the female result top.

Here is a further extract from the paper:

This paper reports the results of an empirical investigation of two of the most
controversial and important issues in understanding physical violence between partners in a marital, cohabiting, or dating relationships. The answers to these questions can have profound implications for prevention and treatment of partner violence.
1. Is partner violence primarily perpetrated by men, as compared to women, and as
compared to both partners engaging in violence?
2. To what extent is dominance by the male partner associated with partner violence,
as compared to dominance by the female partner? In short is the issue one of male
dominance or one of inequality between partners?
Just mentioning these two issues as topics for empirical investigation is often regarded
as undermining the efforts to end partner violence. This is because these questions implicitly challenge two core principles that underlie most efforts to prevent and treat partner violence.
The first principle, that partner violence is primarily perpetrated by men. In relation to
thee first principle, in an article on “Sexual Inequality, Cultural Norms, and Wife-Beating”
published 30 years ago (Straus, 1976) I stated that “wives are much more often the victim of violence by their husbands than the reverse.” The second principle asserted in that article was to attribute male partner violence to “the hierarchical and male-dominant nature of society...” A correlated principle is that when men are violent the purpose is to coerce and dominate, whereas when women are violent it is almost always an act of self-defense or a response to unbearably humiliating and dominating behavior by the male partner. The idea that women are motivated to hit in order to coerce a male partner, or out of rage and anger over misbehavior by a male partner (such as sexual infidelity), is regarded as outrageous, and is taken as a sign of sexism and misogyny.
In the 35 years since I began research on partner violence, bit by bit, I have seen my
assumptions about prevalence and etiology contradicted by a mass of empirical evidence from my own research and from research by many others. Consequently, I have gradually come to a much more multi-faceted view of partner violence. This view recognizes the overwhelming evidence that women assault their partners at about the same rate as men, and that the motives for violence by both males and females are diverse. However, few others have reached the same conclusion, and some of those few will not publicly express their position for fear of the type of ostracism that I have experienced (partly described in Straus and Gelles (Straus & Gelles, 1990). Instead, the evidence on gender symmetry in prevalence and etiology is typically disregarded and often explicitly denied (Straus
& Scott, In press). As will be suggested in the conclusion, this denial has crippled prevention and treatment efforts.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rosy Fenwicke

A Facebook friend request message appeared in my inbox. I really don't do facebook despite having a page that a keen ACT member made for me back in 2008.

This one was from Rosy Fenwicke. Now my memory isn't great for names and profiles, but it is exemplary when it comes to the good or bad feel associated with them.  Rosy Fenwicke elicited a good one.

So I searched my blog to find this most welcome column she wrote in opposition to CPAG in 2011:

OPINION: KIWI mothers are battlers too. Donna Wynd and Susan St John need to be enlightened about this fact before they consign all mothers in New Zealand to the state-funded victimhood they seem to be advocating in their column Enlightening the Welfare Working Group.

The newsworthy aspect of this post and "friend request" is that Rosy has announced she is seeking the nomination for National this year in Wellington Central.

Good. Very good.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Best NCEA improvement goes to Maori

Click on this link to view NZ Herald interactive graphs showing the increase in secondary school students with NCEA level 2 or above since 2008.

In 2008 the percentages were:

Maori 44.4
Pacific 55.3
All 66.5

In 2013 the percentages were:

Maori 58.6
Pacific 71.8
All 76.8

The percentage increase over the 5 years was:

Maori 32 %
Pacific 30 %
All 15%

That's good news for Maori and if the increase continues at the same rate, the catch up will eventually  happen. But you have to wonder why the difference between Maori and Pacific NCEA achievement is so big. The anomalies between Maori and Pacific continue to fascinate me not least because Pacific people are statistically poorer than Maori but doing better on almost all social indicator scales. (Not to mention poor Asians.)

Their better results are a fly in the ointment for those who persistently blame poverty for poor educational achievements etc.


Thought I'd have a look for comparable data for the 5 years pre- 2008. Looks like equivalent isn't available (the above measurement is a product of Better Public Service goals).

Nevertheless the solidly improving trend for Maori and Pacific started around 2005.

Figure 1.6: School Leavers with a University Entrance Standard or a Higher Qualification by Ethnic Group, 1993-2007

(I've also blogged about the other view, which I have sympathy for,  that NCEA is "dumbing down" pupils. More are achieving thanks to lower goal posts.)


A reader asked,"Your earlier graph is also interesting because back then the Maori and Pacifika numbers were almost the same. Now they are very different. So it looks like Pacifika went through a major change in the last few years. Is that correct?"

My second graph depicts UE or higher achieved, not the lower NCEA level 2. So to continue the same graph comparing apples with apples, the gap between Maori and Pacific seems to have widened very slightly. But we can now look back twenty years and see the achievement for both Maori and Pacific was flat until  around 2002-3. One in ten Pacific and fewer than one in ten Maori were achieving UE. What happened then? NCEA. Now a third of Pacific and over a quarter of Maori students are achieving UE

Figure 2: Percentage of school leavers with university entrance standard, by ethnic group (2009 to 2012)

But the disparity between groups is still enormous.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

All-powerful CYF

There are some things I am vaguely aware of but haven't had spelt out for me. For instance, that CYF is a very powerful agency. Perhaps the most powerful state agency that exists. IRD can take your money, but CYF can take your children.

And the reason they are all-powerful was pointed out to me in an OIA response I received last week.

I've been trying to ascertain what the familial relationships are between abusers and victims. The government is proposing a much greater level of scrutiny for teachers and others who work with children. I am not alone in questioning this. An employment lawyer writes:

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has announced her intention to introduce new legislation designed to protect vulnerable children and "help them thrive".
However, the Vulnerable Children's Bill may equally be titled the Vulnerable Employees' Bill.

Anyway, the OIA response confirmed what I suspected. MSD tells me that of the alleged 12,987 perpetrators in the year to June 2012, 83 percent were family members of the children and young people involved.

There is, however, one form of abuse - sexual - where 56 percent of alleged perpetrators were not a family or household member.

The breakdown is below. But it was the preamble that really caught my attention and the reason for the title of this post.