A third of sole parents live in poverty

NZ Newswire
Nearly a third of Pasifika children are growing up in poverty in New Zealand and more than 10 per cent of all children are going without the basics, according to a new study.

The Otago University study, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal on Friday, analysed the lives of 4930 children aged up to 17 over seven years from 2002 using data from the government’s Survey of Family, Income and Employment.

Researchers Dr Fiona Imlach Gunasekara and Dr Kristie Carter found overall that 16 per cent live in poverty.

This figure was much higher for Polynesians with 23 per cent of Maori and 29 per cent of Pacific Island children living in poverty and for children of sole parents this figure was 30 per cent.

“We know from other research that exposure to many years of poverty or deprivation in childhood increases the risk of poor child development and health,” Dr Imlach Gunasekara said.

“These children are also more likely to grow up to be adults with worse health outcomes and lower socioeconomic status.”

About 13 per cent of all children experienced “persistent depravation” which meant that they went without at least two basic needs for two out of three years.

More than 20 per cent of Polynesian children were found to meet this criteria and a third of children of sole parents.

Basic needs were defined as: going cold to save heating costs; getting a food grant or parcel; going without fruit and vegetables or going without food; wearing shoes with holes because the family can’t afford to replace them; and receiving a benefit for longer than a month.

In this study poverty was defined as living in a household in which the pre-tax income is less than $28,000 for four or more years.

Otago University Media Release http://www.otago.ac.nz/news/news/otago037454.html