Today in the Guardian writing on trends in family poverty New Zealand, Eleanor Roy said that
The fact that twice as many children now live below the poverty line than did in 1984 has become New Zealand’s most shameful statistic.
Roy goes back to the 1980s as her base because child poverty has not gone up or down by that much since that sharp rise in the late 1980s.
Child poverty among single-parent households has doubled since 1990 and tripled since 1988. Poverty in families with two parents present is not much higher now than it was in 1988.
Source: Bryan Perry, Household Incomes in New Zealand: trends in indicators of inequality and hardship 1982 to 2014 – Ministry of Social Development, Wellington (August 2015), Table H.4.
Child poverty rates among single-parent families that live with other adults is one-quarter that of single-parent families who live alone. The reasons behind that should be explored more by those concerned with child poverty.
Source: Bryan Perry, Household Incomes in New Zealand: trends in indicators of inequality and hardship 1982 to 2013 – Ministry of Social Development, Wellington (2014), Tables F.6 and F.7.
The evidence is overwhelming that the main driver of the increases in the child poverty since the 1980s is rising housing costs.
In the longer run, after housing costs child poverty rates in 2013 were close to double what they were in the late 1980s mainly because housing costs in 2013 were much higher relative to income than they were in the late 1980s.
– Bryan Perry, 2014 Household Incomes Report – Key Findings. Ministry of Social Development (July 2014).
Any policy to reduce child poverty must increase the supply of houses by reducing regulatory restrictions on the supply of land.
Rather than blame the callousness of government in accepting higher rates of child poverty, Roy should blame its inability to take on the restrictions on land supply in the Resource Management Act that drive up housing costs for the poor. Increased child poverty in New Zealand is a by-product of housing unaffordability.