Monday, May 30, 2016

Family Structure and Child Poverty: What is the evidence telling us?

Very busy with media this morning.

Read the report, commissioned by Family First, here.

On with Leighton Smith at 9.30am.

Executive Summary

Despite families being much smaller, parents being older, mothers being better educated and having much higher employment rates, child poverty has risen significantly since the 1960s.

In 1961, 95 percent of children were born to married couples; by 2015 the proportion had fallen to 53 percent.

For Maori, 72 percent of births were to married parents in 1968; by 2015 the proportion had fallen to just 21 percent.

In 2015, 27 percent of registered births were to cohabiting parents. The risk of parental separation by the time the child is aged five is, however, 4-6 times greater than for married parents.

Cohabiting relationships are becoming less stable over time.

Cohabiting parents are financially poorer than married parents. They form an interim group between married and single parent families.

Single parent families make up 28 percent of all families with dependent children. These families are the poorest in New Zealand.

51% of children in poverty live in single parent families.

Single parents have the lowest home ownership rates and the highest debt ratios.

Children in sole parent families are often exposed to persistent poverty and constrained upward mobility.

Of registered births in 2015, 5% had no recorded father details and a further 15% had fathers living at a different home address to the mother.

Of all babies born in 2015, 17.5% (10,697) were reliant on a main benefit by the end of their birth year, over two thirds on a single parent benefit. Over half had Maori parents/caregivers.

The higher poverty rates for Maori and Pasifika children are reflected in the greater number of sole parent and cohabiting families.

Rapidly changing family structure has contributed significantly to increasing income inequality.

Child poverty is consistently blamed on unemployment, low wages, high housing costs and inadequate social security benefits. Little attention has been given to family structure.

Despite marriage being the best protector against child poverty it has become politically unfashionable – some argue insensitive – to express such a view.

But if there is to be any political will to solve child poverty the issue has to be confronted.


Brendan McNeill said...


Good on you for saying the unsayable. I know you don't expect to be universally applauded for it.

We have been mainstreaming family dysfunction for decades now, replete with taxpayer assistance. The centre cannot hold if this continues.

Inspired by your report and also an article you linked to by Martin van Beynen, I share a few reflections on this topic in my own post today.

Stable societies require a predominant proportion of functional married two parent families to pass on social capital to their children. Several decades ago, this was universally understood, today it sounds like a fantasy.

Redbaiter said...

Great effort Lindsay.

Think you should stand for Parliament.

Not as a Libertarian though. :)

Jamie said...

You Go Lindsay!!!

I know you wanna hit that....

Anonymous said...

The facts as presented look pretty convincing to someone like me that values marriage but I've often wondered what happens if you plotted church attendance in a graph like this.


Anonymous said...

But if there is to be any political will to solve child poverty the issue has to be confronted.

the real issue that has to be confronted is not marriage but welfare

end that == Dole DPB health education etc == and child poverty goes away overnight.

Anonymous said...

As the venerable New York Times put it:

Ending the poor’s entitlement to government aid is counted as a success because it has reduced the rolls of people on welfare

Anonymous said...

We could buy them a house for less than 100,000 in Patea, Tokoroa or half a dozen other places.
They could pay the money back they'd be in their own house if it gets peed in.

Anonymous said...

You suggested this effectively.

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Exactly where are your contact details though?

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