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Values study: electorate prepared to spend more

Values study: electorate prepared to spend more

People say more tax ok if spent on better health and education

National and Act may have misjudged the mood of the electorate according to the New Zealand Study of Values which shows a willingness by people to spend more on certain social services.

The Values Study is co-authored by Dr Paul Perry, a Senior Lecturer in Massey University’s School of Sociology and Women’s Studies and emeritus Professor of Education Alan Webster. Dr Perry says in certain key areas the study found people willing to accept higher taxes in return for increased spending.

The New Zealand Study of Values surveyed over 1200 adult New Zealanders in 1998 asking a range of questions about family, community, work, politics, the government, religion and national identity. The first report from the Survey titled New Zealand Politics at the Turn of the Millennium has just been released.

Dr Perry says a series of questions about government spending in nine major areas asked whether spending should be increased (meaning higher taxes), kept the same, or cut (meaning lower taxes). “Clear majorities supported increased spending in five of the nine areas,” he says.

They were pensions, job training for unemployed, the environment, education and health.
Overwhelming majorities wanted increased spending on education (90% - up from 79% in 1989) and health (93% - up from 83%).

“It is important to note that this wasn’t just a question of should more money be spent. The choices are qualified by indicating increased spending would mean higher taxes, and a cut in spending would mean lower taxes.

“No matter what the government may say about the actual sums spent in these two areas [education and health] over the years, it is clear that there is an overwhelming perception that it is not enough.

“I would suggest this means that going into the election, National trying to make tax a big issue may have misread the mood of the electorate. Certainly the Study of Values suggests to me people will accept higher taxes if they are spent in areas like education and health.”

In the don’t spend basket were four areas with less than majority support for increased spending which were special sporting events, the DPB, the military, and special assistance for Maori and Pacific Islanders.
ENDS.
Contact: Dr Paul Perry
Senior Lecturer School of Sociology and Women’s Studies
Ph: (06) 350-5799 ext.2622 (work)
Email: P.E.Perry@massey.ac.nz

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