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A Step Closer to Unravelling Child Poverty

A Step Closer to Unravelling Child Poverty

More than half of New Zealand mothers experience some level of hardship between late pregnancy and when their child is 9 months old and many parents have to cope with a drop in family income after having children.

These are two of the results from a new policy brief by child development study Growing Up in New Zealand which follows the lives of almost 7000 children from before birth into adulthood.

The brief provides a snapshot on the economic, physical, social, and human resources available to New Zealand children in their first two years of life, and explains how these inter-related measures can be used to provide population-relevant and context-specific insights into developing innovative solutions to reduce child poverty.

The information comes in the week leading up to Children’s Day on 1 March which will be celebrated under the theme ‘Treasure our Children’.

Growing Up in New Zealand research director, Associate Professor Susan Morton explains: “The relationship between child poverty and how it affects child outcomes is complex. Yet in the public debate child poverty and vulnerability are often used synonymously with low family income, without taking other factors into account that influence a child’s development and wellbeing and a family’s capacity to provide a supportive environment for their children.”

“To ensure each child achieves her or his full potential and participates as an equal member in society, regular access to good healthcare, education, permanent and safe housing as well as quality family relationships and support are as important as financial wellbeing.”

The information provided by Growing Up in New Zealand goes much further than just measuring a family’s household income or the deprivation area a family is living in. It captures longitudinal information on physical, social and human as well as economic capitals available to our children that collectively contribute to family’s capacity to support their child’s early development and wellbeing.

“Examining what contributes to transitions in and out of vulnerability is key to finding new solutions to child poverty. Also understanding why some children from families who experience hardship do well while others don’t will provide new information about how to support resilience in the face of challenge,” says Dr Morton.


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