Monday, December 07, 2020

PM complains about sluggish child poverty data

 Stuff's Luke Malpass talks to the PM about her future priorities:

Ardern ... nominated housing, child poverty, and climate change as key areas she would continue to focus on in 2021.

In particular, the Prime Minister expressed frustration at how long it takes to measure child poverty data – 18 to 30 months.

The Child Poverty data is collected from the Household Economic Survey. The PM upped the number of respondents from 5,500 to 20,000. Was that likely to increase the turn-around time for collection and publication of data?

However there is data she could get her hands on WEEKLY. 

Children on  benefits are considered to be among those in poverty. That's why the Children's Commissioner wants benefit rates increased. Remember, "One of the best ways to reduce the number of tamariki in poverty is to raise whānau incomes by increasing benefits."

So an early robust measure of child poverty would be the number of children on benefits.

Currently the number of benefits in place is published every friday and lags by JUST ONE WEEK.

Data relating to benefit type, gender, age, ethnicity, duration of stay and broad age of sole parent dependent children are all available. But not the number of dependent children attached to primary recipients.

From my own Official Information requests I know the number has risen. Hardly surprising. But it had risen substantially BEFORE Covid.

So why doesn't the PM use 'children on benefits' as an indicator?

Because she has chosen household income as her primary measure. That's a lever she can pull. Household income can be lifted by increasing benefit income, which she has done in a number of ways.

But there's trade-off. The only conclusion one can draw is that she would rather see children on benefits than see children in poor working households.

Big mistake.


The Slippery Slope said...

I disagree that children on benefits is a good indicator of child poverty in NZ.

Your own post titled "Academia discovers reality" shows many children of sole parents probably have 'other income', weather from another benefit or employment. Either way, it's not going to be declared on official documents.

"The GUiNZ sample seems to have low sole-parent status compared to a 2009 study that found one-third of families with dependent children were headed by sole-parents (Ministry of Social Development, 2010). This could be because being partnered in the GUiNZ data is not the same as their domestic-purposes benefit status, from which partnership status is inferred by other studies. We find that 70% of those who say they receive the domestic-purposes benefit also answer yes to the question of whether they have a partner – confirming that the sole-parent status derived from GUiNZ is essentially different to those studies which rely on benefit status to infer partnership status.”

There is no 'child poverty' in NZ, there is child neglect and excuses.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

My argument buys into the politics of child poverty reduction which must be challenged. Children on benefits is an imperfect measure but so is relative household income.

Politics aside, I agree with your last sentence.