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Uncovering the Pathways to Poverty in New Zealand

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Uncovering the Pathways to Poverty in New Zealand

Around 10 to 15 percent of New Zealand families are stuck in persistent poverty that will keep them trapped there for years. Maxim Institute’s third report in its Heart of Poverty series focuses on the pathways leading those families into poverty, and what has been proven to help them walk out.

Author of the report, Kieran Madden says that “while quite a number of the families we see in poverty statistics in a given year will escape with the help of the system we already have, for the those in persistent poverty, the system simply isn’t working."

"Because persistent poverty leaves the deepest scars, we need to focus our efforts on these families,” says Madden.

The report identifies the main pathways to persistent poverty for most families as the loss of work, or work with irregular or insufficient hours.

“For parents to provide for their children and participate in the economy and society, their ability to attain and keep a well-paid, stable job is crucial,” Madden says. “A renewed focus on promoting apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and professional partnerships for those with low skills and poor qualifications is key in our attempts to address this problem."

The report also shows that low educational attainment by children in low-income families now, is the clearest pathway to poverty for future generations. Evidence suggests that an education that prepares children for workplaces of the future must develop social-emotional “soft” skills alongside more traditional academic skills.

"Because up to 80% of educational achievement is a function of the home environment, we need to look beyond the schoolyard for solutions,” says Kieran Madden. “Government, business, community organisations and families themselves all have to play their part."


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