Behind the headline

The headline:

A global survey has found that one in every six Kiwis ran out of money for food in 2011-12 – more than in all except eight other developed nations.

Sounds shocking.

The shock finding contrasts with other data in an annual survey by the Paris-based OECD that put New Zealand near the top of the 34 developed countries on social indicators such as people’s perceived health status and employment rates, and above average on relative poverty.

So on most indicators doing well, so let’s do a shock headline on the one indicator that isn’t, which is based on three year old data.

The NZ figure matches Statistics NZ’s annual household economic survey which asks people if they have not enough, just enough, enough or more than enough money to meet “everyday needs for such things as accommodation, food, clothing and other necessities”. Those who said “not enough” rose from 16.2 per cent in 2007 to 18.5 per cent in 2010, but fell to 17.6 per cent in 2011, 16.6 per cent in 2012 and 14 per cent last year.

So the real headline should be fewer families unable to make ends meet than in 2007!

Here’s some other stats from OECD survey:

  • NZ 2nd highest in OECD for percentage of welfare going to low income families
  • Between 2007 and 2010 NZ richest 10% of households had higher drop in disposable income than the poorest 10%
  • NZ has 8th highest employment rate
  • Gini coefficient which measures income inequality declines from 2007 to 2010
  • NZ relative poverty rate declines from 2007 to 2010
  • NZ 2nd highest for adults in good health and highest in world for adults with low income
  • NZ 11th highest for overall life satisfaction
  • NZ 5th highest for confidence in government

This is not to say that things are not tough for some families. But if you read the overall OECD report, NZ is better than most other developed countries. And fewer people in 2013 than in 2007 are unable to make ends meet.

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