Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Lindsay Mitchell: Teen parents - a real difference

I wanted to get the whole picture before I wrote this post. Yesterday some detail arrived from the Ministry of Social Development.

For years I have agitated about the long-term DPB population being derived from teenage births. The children of these parents form the most at-risk group. But from 2008 the number of teenage births started dropping. In 2013 there were 29 percent fewer than in 2009. But even better, at March 2009 there were 4,425 teenage parents on any main benefit. By March 2014 the number had dropped to 2,560. A 42 percent reduction.

The really important news is it's happening across all ethnicities.The proportions are reasonably stable.

In 2009, 52 percent were Maori; in 2013, 55 percent.

For Pacific Island, the proportion rose slightly from 9 to 11 percent.

NZ European dropped from 29 to 25 percent.

The percentage who are aged 16-17 dropped from slightly from 16.5 to 15%.

The percentage who are male is unchanged 4%.

This means thousands fewer children experiencing poor outcomes - ill-health, disconnect from education,  in and out of fostercare, potentially abused and neglected, having the cards stacked against them from the outset.

Thousands of would-be teen mums will continue on with their own lives and fulfilling potential, and hopefully have children when they are ready to.

It's a fantastic development.

National deserve at least some credit for it with their new young parent mentoring and benefit management regime.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely incredible statistics, there is no more important success story a government could wish to see. The benefits of this change will be felt for generations to come and yet no one is singing the praises apart from you Lindsay. If only we could see more of this kind of policy. Instead everyone seems hell bent on taking Child poverty to the electorate this round.THERE IS NO CHILD POVERTY JUST PARENTAL IGNORANCE.

Anonymous said...

You might like to note that the overall birthrate in NZ dropped from 2006 and continues on a downward trend which also effects the welfare statistics. This excellent result cannot be attributed solely to the governments effort. Although I'm sure they have assisted it.

Anonymous said...

Excellent stuff!

This is an *outstanding* result.

Anonymous said...

This is indeed excellent news. It goes even further than you've reported.

Lots of research has shown that solo parenting is a significant factor in creating career criminals. So the impact includes, police time, court costs, legal aid, prison costs and the invisible social damage that criminality causes.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Anon 2,

Over the same period (2009-13) 20-24 year-olds had 7 percent fewer births, 25-29 year-olds just 0.2 percent fewer. 30-34 3% fewer, 40-44 10% fewer and 45+ actually saw an increase.

Teens are a striking stand-out with a 29 percent reduction.

Dave said...

This is good and bad news, good in that there are fewer births to young ill equipped teenage Mums, (usually there is no dad around). Bad in that the overall the overall birthrate continues to drop. While we don't want a population explosion we do need a continued and sustained population growth if we are to maintain services, a labour force, schools and the vitality that youth bring to any society. The problem with the world is that most advanced Western countries and places like Japan are having huge decreases in population and whats left is ageing rapidly. The only countries breeding like there's no tomorrow are 3rd world African and middle eastern countries, the ones who can least afford it.

Unknown said...

While our birth rate may be decreasing our population over the last 20 years has increased by around 1 million with no where near the increase in infrastructure to cope with it.
Why do people always think that increased population is a good thing. It is the main reason for environmental problems world wide. With increased mechanization we need less people to do the jobs so let`s promote depopulation which will help our tourist industry as more countries overseas are becoming over crowded and are looking for tourists destinations where they are not covered in people. Quality of life please.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear, Peter! It is a falacy to say that an increase in population is automatically good for society. If the increase is in productive citizens - it may well be. On the other hand, if the increase is in the unproductive (especially when together with their extended family), it simply puts a far greater load on the services they demand as of right and the productive who are called upon to pay.
Auntie Podes