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DPB Growth About "Young Women Having Children"

Media Release

Treasury: DPB Growth About "Young Women Having Children"
Friday, October 30, 2009

In its report into economic long-term sustainability released yesterday, Treasury acknowledged that the recent growth in DPB numbers reflects a combination of a temporary rise in the number of young women having children and the impact of the recession.

Welfare Commentator Lindsay Mitchell welcomed this official recognition but was disappointed with Treasury's attitude.

"The popular political line has always been that the DPB is there for people who experience a relationship break-up. The Minister for Social Development recently defended the DPB saying the vast majority of recipients had come out of a marriage or de facto partnership. But now we have the Treasury acknowledging the growth is coming from young women having babies. During 2008 2,300 females aged 18-24 years-old transferred from a pregnancy-related sickness benefit to the domestic purposes benefit. These are young women who had no partner or financial support before or after birth."

"Unfortunately Treasury seems unconcerned by the rise, predicting it will be temporary. While it is true that there has been a demographic blip in the number of young women of child bearing age, the fertility rate (number of babies born per 1,000 females) has also climbed. In the 15 - 19 age group the rate has been climbing since 2003. Why does Treasury believe that trend is about to reverse?"

Treasury also draws attention to the substantial growth in sickness and invalid benefits and suggests this area as a focus for cutting spending. "While I couldn't disagree with that suggestion, equal, if not more focus needs to go on the DPB. That is because the DPB is the major driver of intergenerational benefit dependence. A report examining the long-term sustainability of the economy that fails to take account of intergenerational dependence is incomplete."

"Still, given the National government is hell-bent on ignoring the main thrust of the report, the reform of Super, its incompleteness is probably neither here nor there."


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