Friday, May 1, 2015

Lindsay Mitchell: Too many children continue to be born into welfare dependency

If there is one statistic that epitomises the state of modern family under decades of benefit influence it's the following.

Each year I put the same question to MSD (adjusting dates obviously):

At December 31, 2014, how many benefit recipients aged 16-64 had a dependent child born in 2014?
This time the answer  is 11,149 - or 19.4% of all children born in 2014. Still nearly one in five.

While there is gradual and steady improvement (below are the percentages for the last 10 years) the pattern remains well entrenched (largely independent of the economy), a point I have made repeatedly over the years:

2005  21.5
2006  20.2
2007  19.1
2008  20.9
2009  23
2010  22.8
2011  21.8
2012  21.2
2013  19.8
2014  19.4

Between 2013 and 2014 the parental age breakdown shows little change. The past 5 years features a drop in the 16-19 bracket from 14 to 10 percent (to be expected with the falling teen birth rate), but the difference is made up amongst the 20-29 year-olds. Over two thirds of the parents/care-givers are 29 or younger.

85 percent are female indicating most of the dependency lies in single parent families.

Although the overall percentage dropped slightly, for Maori it actually increased from 34.5% of 16,643 births in 2013 to 35.2% of 15,917 births in 2014.

Dec-13 Dec-14
Maori children dependant on benefits 5,736 5,605
Maori caregivers 16,643 15,917

34.5% 35.2%

Half of all the babies welfare-dependent by the end of their birth year are born to Maori caregivers despite Maori making up around 15 percent of the population. Pacific Island parents are not over-represented at only 9 percent of the total (yet their unemployment rate is consistently relatively high and on par with Maori.)

Many of these children will stay benefit-dependent for years.

This statistic contributes more than any other to 'child poverty'.

National has not been lax in facing this problem. At least they won't accept this ongoing pattern.

Labour and the Greens do however, merely calling for bigger benefits to lift children's family income.

Unfortunately that will  exacerbate the problem long term by reversing the current trend.

The last 'low' of 19.1 percent in 2007 occurred when unemployment was at a record low.

Is that as good as it's going to get?

1 comment:

paul scott said...

Very interesting Lindsay. So we can say broadly about 20% children in dependency. And at the other end of our spectrum we have superannuation. I have a woman friend [ not g/f] who reaching 65 told me she was " embarrassed" that she was receiving money from the State.
I asked her why it had been ok for her to pay taxes for other peoples children and be embarrassed now to be on the receiving end. I oppose David Seymour suggestions of means testing Super. There are some changes needed though.