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Leaked Gaps Report Huge Embarrassment To Govt

Leaked Gaps Report Huge Embarrassment To Govt

A high level report prepared for the Ministry of Social Policy seriously challenges the Government’s entire closing the gaps initiative, said ACT Welfare spokesman Dr Muriel Newman.

The key conclusion of the in-depth paper concludes that ‘For reasons of social justice and efficiency, effective policy to close the gaps needs to focus on those most disadvantaged or at risk’.”

‘Broad based policies which target the Maori population, which may be thought to close the gaps (such as fisheries settlements, other treaty settlements, cheap access to the radio spectrum etc), risk being captured by the considerable number of Maori who already have jobs, skills, high incomes and good prospects’.

“This report seriously challenges the Government’s broad Maori based policies, concluding that policy should be based on disadvantage, not race, and supports this with sound and detailed analysis.

This analysis includes the fact that:

* Socio-economic differences amongst Maori as a group overwhelm socio-economic differences between Maori and other groups; * The distribution of income (hourly earnings) across the Maori population is very similar to the distribution across the non-Maori population. * Key socio-economic gaps (employment, education, income) are not growing; * Over the 1990s, gaps in employment rates, median income, and education levels have closed.

“The Minister’s response to questions in the House on this matter, show he was completely unaware of how seriously the Government report undermines the coalition’s flagship closing the gaps policy.

“The Government must either answer the report’s criticisms, or completely rethink their ethnicity based approach to closing the gaps,” concluded Dr Muriel Newman.

Maori Socio-economic Disparity

Executive summary of Report prepared for the Ministry of Social Policy September 2000

Key findings of report

* The post 1970s Maori population is in absolute terms larger, per capita materially wealthier, and has a higher life expectancy than at any other time in New Zealand’s history; * Socio-economic differences amongst Maori as a group overwhelm socio-economic differences between Maori and other groups; * The distribution of income (hourly earnings) across the Maori population is very similar to the distribution across the non-Maori population. * Key socio-economic gaps (employment, education, income) are not growing; * Over the 1990s, gaps in employment rates, median income, and education levels have closed, namely: * The employment rate disparity has fallen over the 1990s from a peak of around 14%, to around 6% today; * The ratio of Maori to non-Maori income has increased from 75.5% to 79.3% between 1991 and 1996 and further increases since then seem likely, given reductions in the employment rate disparity. * There was a slow decline in the gap between Maori and non-Maori leaving school without qualifications, between 1985 and 1998. * Significant socio-economic gaps remain between Maori and non-Maori in New Zealand in education, health, income and labour market status; * There are a number of reasons why gaps may exist between Maori and non-Maori on average. * Overall, much of the gap between Maori and non-Maori reflects their over-representation amongst poorer socio-economic classes.

Implications for policy

* Broad based policies which target the Maori population, which may be thought to close the gaps (such as fisheries settlements, other treaty settlements, cheap access to the radio spectrum etc.), risk being captured by the considerable number of Maori who already have jobs, skills, high incomes and good prospects. * For reasons of social justice and efficiency, effective policy to close the gaps needs to focus on those most disadvantaged or at risk. * Policymakers need to avoid a fixation with “averages” for groups, which convey little information about the underlying spread or distribution. * Four possible policy rationales are given, including Treaty of Waitangi rights, broad group social equity issues, social conflict and cohesion issues, and encouragement of a vibrant Maori culture. * High variations within the Maori population weaken the social cohesion argument for addressing disparities at an aggregate level. * Being Maori has very low predictive power for socio-economic success or failure. * Regional variations exist- with Maori performing worse in regions where there is a high Maori population share. * Effective policy needs to provide strong incentives and good monitoring to ensure the desired outcome is met – helping low skilled Maori without work in areas of high Maori population concentration to acquire good jobs and better skills.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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