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23 Percent of Babies on Benefit by Year-End

23 Percent of Babies on Benefit by Year-End

Data released under the Official Information Act shows that by the end of December 2009 14,394 babies born that year were being supported by a main benefit. Welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell said, "That represents around 23 percent of babies born in New Zealand last year, an increase on 2008 when the percentage was 21% and 2007 when it was 18%."

"The increase partly reflects the recession, with more males appearing as the primary caregiver, but even pre-recession the percentage never dropped below 18. "

"Ministry of Social Development research has shown repeatedly that the younger a child relies on welfare the lower the likelihood of them leaving it. So this recent increase is going to contribute significantly to long-term welfare dependence and long-term child poverty."

"Child poverty, which often leads to poor mental and physical health, and educational under- achievement, is nearly always framed as a problem for government to resolve, usually by increasing benefit payments. But why aren't questions asked about the high number of people having babies with no way of supporting them beyond using somebody else's money? While the unemployment associated with a recession may be beyond the individual's control, starting or adding to a family is not. Successive governments have poured money into changing attitudes towards smoking and domestic violence. Perhaps it is time for a campaign saying, it's not OK to have a baby on a benefit - something the Welfare Working Group could usefully explore."

Additional data;

Of the babies born in 2009 who were reliant on welfare by the end of that year,

*51 percent had a caregiver aged 16-24 years of age
*46 percent had a caregiver of Maori ethnicity; 30 percent had a caregiver of NZ European ethnicity
*82 percent had a female caregiver


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