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Economic Model Fails to Invest for our Future

UNICEF NZ Comments on 2011 Budget

Economic Model Fails to Invest for our Future

UNICEF NZ (UN Children’s Fund) believes the NZ economic model is failing by not investing in children and ignoring the economic benefits that would accrue to the country through investment in the early years of a child’s life.

UNICEF NZ supports this view from the findings of many overseas economists, including James Heckman, the distinguished Nobel prize-winning economist. Heckman confirms that investment, particularly in the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, promotes productivity in the economy and into society at large. He maintains that to over invest in remedial solutions and under invest in early years is bad for the long term economy.

This view is also backed by the research of well known Dutch economist Dr Jan Vandemoortele.

“Our lack of investment in children was further highlighted by an OECD report last year that showed NZ senior citizens financial status ranked highly compared to other OECD countries, but children in NZ ranked lowest among OECD countries”, says Dennis McKinlay, Executive Director, UNICEF NZ.

“The cross party accord on superannuation probably has much to do with the high level of wealth for senior citizens. A cross party accord on investment in children is needed so a long term economic strategy that includes children can be implemented.

“In addition the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recently examined New Zealand’s record of compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It recommended that the government give urgent attention and, if necessary, use affirmative action to address the evident disparities in services for children. Current spending is not sufficient to eradicate poverty and reduce disparities.

“If we are to boost our economy and ensure that we have a healthy, well educated and motivated work force for the future, we must invest in children at a far greater level at all stages of their development”, says McKinlay.

“We need to re-think our economic paradigm, put children at the centre and give their best interests priority in our economic framework. With so much evidence showing that investment in children, particularly in the first three years of their lives, has a multitude of economic and social benefits it can’t be convincingly argued that this approach is unaffordable.

“Our kids – our future customers, workers and entrepreneurs - can’t wait until tomorrow. Failing to invest sufficiently now in their future is simply creating liabilities for future generations to pay for. That’s a future none of us can afford”.

ENDS

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