Media coverage of our report

Family First blames child poverty on divorce and single parents
povertyNZ Herald 30 May 2016
Parental breakups, not unemployment, are given in a new report as the prime cause of New Zealand’s high rate of child poverty.

The report, published today by the Family First lobby group, says the near-trebling of sole parents from 10 per cent of families with dependent children in 1976 to 28 per cent of families in the last two censuses is “the elephant in the room” in the child poverty debate.

Child poverty has tracked sole parenting almost exactly. Children in homes earning below 60 per cent of the median household income rose from 14 per cent in 1982 to 30 per cent in 2001, then declined to 22 per cent by 2007, although they have risen again recently.

“The correlation between sole parent and child poverty rates is stronger than between unemployment and child poverty rates,” says the report, by welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell.

“Unemployment, low wages, high housing costs and insufficient social security benefits are consistently blamed for child poverty, yet a major culprit (if not the major culprit) is family malformation, that is, a lack of two married committed parents.”

However, Dr Susan St John of the Child Poverty Action Group said the report ignored the fact that marriage was not always good for women or their children.

“Intimate partner violence is not mentioned, nor the high rate of incarceration, especially of Maori males,” she said. “The policy implications of this report, to reduce the safety net yet further and stigmatise the unwed, are extremely dangerous.”
READ MORE: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11647133

Lobby group Family First blames unmarried couples for child poverty
Stuff co.nz 30 May 2016
An unmarried couple with children is more likely to be struggling in poverty, a conservative lobby group claims.

The claim comes from a new report by researcher and artist Lindsay Mitchell, who said there was “overwhelming and incontrovertible” evidence that a drop in marriage rates was one of the main drivers of an increase in child poverty.

The glossy report, funded by conservative Christian lobby group Family First, looked at household income and family structures from the 1960s to the current day.

It states that with people having fewer children than in the past and people delaying birth until they were older, families should be better off financially, but that was not the case.

“Despite marriage being the best protector against child poverty it has become politically unfashionable – some argue insensitive – to express such a view.

“But if there is to be any political will to solve child poverty the issue has to be confronted.”

“What my paper attempts to do is to say ‘we’ve got the evidence’, the poor people in New Zealand live in sole parent families, de facto couples form an interim group and married people have the highest incomes.

“Child poverty has become a really big issue and everyone is concerned about it…but we don’t hear anyone talking about the change in family structure.”

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie described the link between a drop in marriage and rise in child poverty as the “elephant in the room”.

“People would like to believe that there isn’t [a link] but unfortunately. the research shows de facto or cohabiting relationships are less stable.”

He wanted to see couples putting more thought into whether they were committed to a child before deciding to have one outside marriage, he said.
READ MORE: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/80508306/lobby-group-family-first-blames-unmarried-couples-for-child-poverty

Unmarried couples causing child poverty – lobby group
NewsHub 30 May 2016
Unmarried parents are one of the main causes of child poverty, a new report by a conservative lobby group claims.

The Family First-funded report by researcher Lindsay Mitchell on the causes of child poverty argues that the ‘elephant in the room’ in the debate is family structure.

“The best protector against child poverty is two married parents,” Mitchell told Newshub.

“That’s what the evidence is telling us. It’s not just New Zealand, it’s in other developed English speaking countries: Australia, the US.”
READ MORE: http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/unmarried-couples-causing-child-poverty—lobby-group-2016053006#axzz4A4dbxoK6

Family First child poverty report questioned by experts
NewsTalk ZB 30 May 2016
A social policy advisor is questioning a report which says marriage breakups are a significant cause of child poverty.

The Child Poverty and Family Structure report was released today by conservative lobby group Family First.

The report says de-facto relationships become less stable over time, and are up to six times more likely to separate by the time a child turns five compared to a married couple.

The Family First report found 51 percent of children in poverty live in single parent families, but just 28 percent of families have single parents.

Mitchell said the figures make for sobering reading.

“Sole parent families are unfortunately the poorest families in New Zealand, so obviously the more sole parent families the country has, the higher the rate of child poverty will be.”
READ MORE: http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/national/family-first-child-poverty-report-questioned-by-expert/

Family lobby misreading poverty data
Waatea News 30 May 2016
The Greens’ Maori spokesperson Marama Davidson is dismissing as nonsense a Family First report claiming marriage break-ups rather than unemployment of low wages is the cause of child poverty.

The latest report by social policy blogger Lindsay Mitchell says the correlation between rates of sole parenting and child poverty over the past 40 years is stronger than the correlation between unemployment and child poverty.

She blames greater acceptance of couples living together outside formal marriage, with just one in five Maori births to legally married parents.

Mrs Davidson says Family First is cherry-picking the data to bolster its argument.

“Why did we have a sudden rise in poverty when we started to see neuro-liberal policies come in I think in the eighties and we’ve had a massive increase in poverty and child poverty since then, was it because all of a sudden overnight, parents just got lazier and lazier? No I don’t think so”, says Marama.

Marama Davidson says child poverty includes working families who are living in their cars or squashed up in garages and last week’s Budget failed to offer any solutions for those whanau.
http://www.waateanews.com/waateanews?story_id=MTM3MjU
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