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Maori Teenage Birthrate Climbs Under Labour Policy

Media Release
Maori Teenage Birthrate Climbs Under Labour's Policy
Friday, September 19, 2008

The Maori teenage birthrate fell by 26 percent between 1997 and 2002 before increasing by a similar amount between 2002 and 2007 according to a report released by the Ministry of Social Development this week.

Welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell noted the coincidence between the trends which occurred during changes in social policy.

"Between 1997 and 2002 the message being sent about the DPB was greater personal responsibility; once the youngest child was 6 the mother would be work-tested. Work-testing was introduced by National in early 1999 but removed by Labour in 2002. Labour decided to put more emphasis on encouraging a move to work through enhanced case management but removed any firm requirement."

Children born to very young mothers have lives often characterised by low birth weight, health and learning difficulties, poverty, transience and exposure to multiple 'step-fathers'. Their mothers lack of eduction and skills tends to be passed on. Over half of all women who have babies as teenagers are Maori. Most go on welfare. It would appear that under Labour's policy the trend in Maori teenage birth rate, which had been reducing, has reversed. The easy and open-ended availability of the DPB is very likely a factor. For many welfare is not a safety net. Welfare has become a lifestyle choice.


ENDS

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