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:
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.
|Maori children dependant on benefits||5,736||5,605|
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?