Household incomes in New Zealand: Trends in indicators of inequality and hardship




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Household incomes in New Zealand:

Trends in indicators of inequality and hardship

1982 to 2014
Prepared by Bryan Perry
Ministry of Social Development

Wellington
August 2015

ISBN 978-0-478-32381-8 Print


ISBN 978-0-478-32382-5 Online


Changes since last report


  • The 2015 report updates the previous one with findings based on the 2013-14 Household Economic Survey (referred to as the 2014 HES).




  • Tables and charts from 2007 to 2013 have also been revised following improvements to the data provided by Statistics New Zealand (mainly through imputation of information for missing data). The changes to the resulting figures are very minor.




  • The international comparisons are updated with the latest available data from the OECD, the EU and the Top Incomes database (usually 2011 or 2012).




  • There is an Annex to Section H which brings together in one place the main findings about child poverty and material hardship (from both the Incomes and NIMs reports)




  • The material hardship section (Section L) has been removed, updated and put into the companion report using non-income measures (the NIMs report).




  • The reports give greater prominence to the income-wealth-consumption-material-wellbeing conceptual framework that sits behind the more detailed analysis and which gives coherence to the report’s many strands.


Next report


  • The next report is scheduled for mid 2016 based on the 2015 HES. (The timing is dependent on the availability of the HES data.)



Availability on MSD website


  • This report and previous ones are available on the MSD website:

www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/monitoring/index.html

Updates since publication on 13 August 2015
4 Sep 2015:

  • Table H.2: added the missing 2014 figures and revised the 2007 to 2010 figures in line with the rest of the report

  • Table I.1: entered missing information in the OECD row

  • Appendix 7: added the missing 2014 figures to Table 7.1

  • Appendix 11: entered the revised figures for 2009 to 2012, and updated to 2014, in line with the other tables in the body of report.



Acknowledgements
I thank all those who provided comments on earlier drafts, especially Caroline Brooking from Statistics New Zealand whose detailed reviewing has been invaluable, and colleagues within the Ministry of Social Development whose advice, questions and smoothing out of rough patches have added considerably to the report’s robustness, readability and relevance. My thanks too to Nadra Zarifeh whose expert knowledge of the HES datasets and SAS coding have been crucial in the production of this report and previous ones. Responsibility for all the analysis and interpretation in the report (including any errors or omissions) remains mine alone.

Contents

About this report ........................................................................................................................ 1

Section A Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………… 3



Section B Household incomes in 2013-14 ……………………………………………………… 25
Section C Trends in key labour market, demographic and social assistance variables ……… 45
Section D Household incomes and income inequality, 1982 to 2014 ………………………… 57
Section E Low incomes, poverty and material hardship: conceptual and measurement issues 77
Section F Headline trends in income poverty, 1982 to 2014 …………………………………… 93
Section G Trends for the whole population, 1982 to 2014, by various individual and

household characteristics …………………………………………………………....... 109


Section H Trends for dependent children, 1982 to 2014, by various individual and

household characteristics ……………………………………………………………… 119



Annex: Summary of findings for children from both the Incomes Report and

the NIMs Report ……………………………………………………………….. 130
Section I Income trends for older New Zealanders …………………………………………….. 137
Section J International comparisons for income poverty and inequality ……………………… 147
Section K Income mobility and poverty persistence …………………………………………… 167
Section L Wealth, with international comparisons ……………………………………………… 181

References ………………………………………………………………………………….. 183
Appendices …………………………………………………………………………………… 189
Appendix 1 Key specifications for the incomes analysis in this report

Appendix 2 Choice of income sharing unit (ISU)

Appendix 3 Equivalence scales: sensitivity of results to choice of scale

Appendix 4 Analysis unit: sensitivity of results to choice of household or individual for calculating medians and reporting poverty rates and inequality

Appendix 5 Incomes before and after deducting housing costs (BHC and AHC)

Appendix 6 Rationale for setting the low-income thresholds or poverty lines

Appendix 7 Indices used to adjust for inflation

Appendix 8 The bottom income decile: income often not a reliable indicator of material wellbeing

Appendix 9 Decile and quintile means and shares (BHC), 1982 to 2014

Appendix 10 Supplementary poverty tables

Appendix 11 Supplementary tables for detailed breakdown for children by household type and so on (Table H.4), using 50% and 60% of median AHC moving line thresholds

Abbreviations
AHC After (deducting) housing costs

AS Accommodation Supplement

BDL Benefit Datum Line

BHC Before (deducting) housing costs

CV Constant value (referring to low-income thresholds or ‘poverty lines’ kept constant in real terms) = ‘fixed lines’

DPB Domestic Purposes Benefit

EFU Economic family unit

EU European Union

Eurostat The Statistical Office of the EU

FT Full-time (30 hours or more per week)

GFC Global Financial Crisis

HES Household Economic Survey

HLFS Household Labour Force Survey

HH Household

HNZC Housing New Zealand Corporation

IB Invalid’s Benefit

MEDC More economically advanced country

NAOTWE Net average ordinary time weekly earnings

NMI Non-monetary indicator

NZPMP New Zealand Poverty Measurement Project

NZS New Zealand Superannuation

OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

PMP Poverty Measurement Project

PT Part-time (less than 30 hours per week)

REL Relative-to-contemporary-median (referring to low-income thresholds or ‘poverty lines’ that are calculated as a proportion of the median for the survey year in question) = ‘moving lines’

SB Sickness Benefit

SoFIE Survey of Family, Income and Employment

SP Sole parent

2P Two parent

Taxmod The NZ Treasury’s tax-benefit microsimulation model (up to HES 2004)

Taxwell The NZ Treasury’s tax-benefit microsimulation model (starting with HES 2007)

TPG Total poverty gap

UB Unemployment Benefit

UNICEF United Nations Children's Fund (formerly, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund)

WFF Working for Families

WL Workless (adult or HH)




  • ‘Dependent children’ are all those under 18 yrs, except for those 16 and 17 year olds who are in receipt of a benefit in their own right or who are employed for 30 hrs or more a week.

  • When ‘child’ is used without qualification, it means ‘dependent child’.

  • A household ‘with children’ always means a household with at least one dependent child – the household may or may not have adult children or other adults who are not the parents or caregivers.



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