The government announced in a pre-Budget release that New Zealand women living on benefits – including teenagers and the daughters of beneficiaries – will be offered free long-term contraception. The welfare reform news has sparked a maelstrom of controversy.
Statistics should inform debate
Professor Natalie Jackson, who heads the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis (NIDEA), says debate on this issue needs to be informed by statistics. Contrary to the message that New Zealand’s teenage fertility and sole parenting rates are skyrocketing:
· In 2011, 2.8% of New Zealand’s teenage women (15-19 years) gave birth. This is higher than Australia (1.7%), similar to the United Kingdom (2.4%), and lower than the USA (3.9%). It is less than half the 1972 level (6.9%).
· At the 2006 Census, the median age of solo parents in New Zealand was 42.9 years.
- 1.4% were younger than 19
- 14.6% were 20-29 years
- 84% were 30 and over
Population research for informed choices
NIDEA, which was launched in late 2010, undertakes research at the interface of population and economics to help inform choices and responses to the demographic, social and economic interactions that are shaping New Zealand’s future.
The University of Waikato – Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato