Stuff co.nz 1 November 2015
OPINION: New Zealand’s fertility rate of over four per cent in the early 1960s has more than halved today to be under 2 per cent. Even since 2008 there has been a significant drop in the number of new-born babies.
Meanwhile our population is aging as baby boomers live longer and are retiring in large numbers.
Changing lifestyles are part of the explanation. So, too, is the cost of having children, with young people needing to meet high rent or mortgage costs when house prices in Auckland are approaching 10 times the median household income.
Other developed countries have responded by providing generous paid parental leave. Labour introduced paid parental leave for 12 weeks in 2002 and increased it to 14 weeks.
Since then, however, New Zealand has fallen behind to become the second least generous paid parental leave provider of 34 developed countries.
Labour MP Sue Moroney introduced a Paid Parental Leave Bill in 2013 to increase the period of payment to 26 weeks. This was defeated by one vote when National and Act opposed it. National was however embarrassed into agreeing to increase the period of payment over time to 18 weeks.