Stats NZ reveals the nation’s official rate of child poverty

Twenty-three per cent of children live below the poverty line after household costs are deducted from income, the latest child poverty statistics have found. 

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Thirteen percent of children are going without basic necessities like shoes, the agency found. Source: 1 NEWS

Baseline rates to calculate child poverty statistics in New Zealand were released today, aiming to help the Government measure and be held accountable in reducing child poverty.

The first measure found about 183,000 children (16.5 per cent) were living below the poverty measurement before household costs were taken away from income. 

It looked at children living in homes that had less than 50 per cent of the medium income for a family of that size (before housing costs are deducted) for the year ending June 30, 2018.

It was a rise from 2017 at 14.2, 2016 at 15.4 and 2015 at 16.3 per cent.

Diane Ramsay from Statistics NZ said measuring poverty is very complex.

For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

The second measurement looked at the same costs, but with housing costs deducted using a fixed line measure (comparing a household income with medium with median income of all households).

"Housing is our biggest expense, and you can’t really avoid paying for housing," Ms Ramsay said.

She gave the example of living in a rented home in Auckland compared to owning a home in Timaru.

The data found 254,000 (22.8 per cent) of children were living in poverty for that measurement after household cost were deducted.

The Government want to get that figure to 10 per cent in 10-years' time.

In the year ending to June, 2017, 22.4 per cent were living in this category, down from 24.3 per cent in 2016 and 27.2 per cent in 2015.

Ms Ramsay said while income is important as a measure, "it’s not the only thing".

The third measure calculated material hardship of a household from an adult's perspective, asking a household what they could afford to do or have.

"Examples includes not having two pairs of good shoes, putting off a visit to the doctor, or not being able to pay the electricity bill on time," senior manager Jason Attewall said.

Thirteen per cent of children were living in a household that was experiencing material hardship. However there was a large sample error on the estimate figure. 

Ms Ramsay said Stats NZ have significantly increased the survey size from between 3,300-5,500 between 2012 and 2018, up to 20,000 households for the 2018/2019 year.

"We also tend to have lower response rates from households in low-socioeconomic areas, which means that these households are often underrepresented in the same," Mr Attewall said.

Six other measures have been calculated by Stats NZ.