Friday, October 21, 2016

Only 69 more years

The latest benefit stats are a mixed bag. That'll be why they haven't made the news. Not a lot to criticise and not a lot to crow about.

For instance, over the year to September 2016, "... the number of recipients of Jobseeker Support increased by 1,383, or 1.1 percent."

The rise is nearly all female; Maori and Pacific.

The drop in sole parents numbers is quite substantial - "....the number of recipients of Sole Parent Support decreased by 3,515, or 5.2 percent."

But (given the nature of the rise in Jobseeker numbers) I suspect that some of this reduction will actually be a transfer of older sole parents onto Jobseeker as their youngest child turns 14.

Regarding the last main benefit, "...the number of recipients of Supported Living Payment remained relatively stable, decreasing by 593, or 0.6 percent."

For many years the numbers on an invalid benefit only grew so  even stability is an improvement.

HOWEVER, the upward trend in people receiving a Supported Living Payment for a psychological or psychiatric condition continues. A further 765 were added over the year.

There was a marked increase in Pacific people becoming dependent on this benefit and the age group with the largest growth was 25-39 years.

Overall, "...the number of main benefit recipients decreased by 3,292, or 1.1 percent."

At this rate (assuming a static population) it will only take around 69 years to get back to a level where only 2 percent of the working age population is reliant on a benefit - the sort of level that was normal until the 1970s!

Image result for DPB numbers welfare working group

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Longitudinal studies are a luxury

Cutting the funding to the Growing up in New Zealand Study is consistent with this government's focus on the neediest, most vulnerable, children.

The initial cohort for the study was just over 7,000 children. But by 2014 the retention  rate was only 92%. I believe that the drop-outs would largely have been the very families the government is keen to track. I base this on the data collected about benefits. The numbers are too low. The families that have dropped out of the study would probably have been beneficiary families.

Now the funding has been reduced and the study has to cut the cohort to 2,000. This is still a useful sample size when compared to earlier longitudinal studies like the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Study (1037 babies born Dunedin 1972-73 with a current retention rate of 95%) and the Christchurch Health and Development Study (1,265 born 1977) which have produced masses of interesting data and papers.

No doubt this "gutting" is a re-prioritization of public funds.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Graph of the Day

No words needed. From a just-released New Zealand Initiative report summary:

Of particular interest to me, given the report I wrote for Family First earlier in the year which suggested changing family structure is the major factor driving child poverty, the NZ Initiative report finds that around half of the big increase in inequality, that occurred between the mid eighties and mid nineties was due to changing family structure and households.

They referenced Treasury research which found:

 "...the main factors which contributed to the change in inequality were changes in family and household structure (primarily a pronounced drop in the fraction of two parent households and a rise in the fraction of sole parent households), and changes in the socio-demographic attributes of households "

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Media etc misuse and abuse of data

Bryan Perry authors the government's (Ministry of Social Development) official report into household incomes in New Zealand.

The latest was published a few weeks ago. It runs to 250 pages. I cannot claim to sit down and read it cover to cover but I have found time to peruse it more closely today.

Perry details five examples of  "common misunderstanding or misleading use" of his statistics.

Here is one that really deserves wider publication: