NZ fares poorly in child report

NZ Herald Sep 03, 2009

New Zealand is spending considerably less on child welfare than other OECD countries, a report from the organisation says. The report, Doing Better for Children, was the first time the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development had reported on the wellbeing of children in its 30 member countries. It identified New Zealand’s biggest shortfall as its limited spending on children under the age of 5, which it said was less than half the average among OECD nations.

New Zealand was also struggling in dealing with child health. It had the highest youth suicide rate in the OECD and an above-average child mortality rate. Children lived in poor conditions, average family incomes were low by OECD standards and child poverty rates were high. New Zealand children had high rates of educational achievement, but the gap between top and bottom performers was large. Immunisation rates for measles were the second-worst in the OECD, and for whooping cough, the fifth-worst. The report said the Government should be spending considerably more than it does on younger, disadvantaged children.

* The average disposable income in homes with children is US$17,200 (NZ$25,500), below the OECD average of US$19,200, placing New Zealand 21st out of 30 countries.
* Fifteen per cent of Kiwi children live in “poor households” where the income is below half of the median.
* This is 11th worst of 30 countries and ahead of the OECD average of 12.4 per cent. Thirty-three per cent live in overcrowded conditions, ahead of the OECD average of 30 per cent.
* Infant mortality in New Zealand is 5.1 per 1000 live births, below the OECD average 5.4.
* There were 23.4 births per 1000 women aged 15 to 19, which is fifth highest in the OECD. The average is 15.5.