Wellington, May 9 (Xinhua-ANI): The ability of working New Zealanders to raise their incomes was no worse than other developed nations, the government said Wednesday, after a university study said one in five households reported “chronic low income” for most of the last decade.
Finance Minister Bill English said the University of Otago report, which analyzed changes in income and deprivation from 2002 to 2009, confirmed “substantial income mobility over the period, with many New Zealanders moving in and out of different income bands.”
“For example, only a quarter of those whose income was assessed to be in the bottom 10 percent of incomes in 2002 were still in that position in 2009. That’s comparable to other countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom,” English said in a statement.
The report showed “only a small proportion” of New Zealanders spent long periods on low incomes and in deprivation, he said.
The “Dynamics of Income and Deprivation” study defined low income as a household income below 60 percent of the median household income of 25,800 to 33,950 NZ dollars from 2002 to 2009, and chronically low income as below 27,000 NZ dollars.
It said 21 percent of 18,000 respondents had an average annual gross household income below 27,000 NZ dollars (21,230 U.S.dollars) from 2002 to 2009, with chronic low income rates higher for indigenous Maori, households with children, and people aged over 65.
The research showed New Zealand’s high annual income mobility, went “both up and down the scale,” with half of the families and households in the middle income group moving each year, said a statement from the university.
However, about 50 percent of the people surveyed experienced one or more years of low income at some stage in the survey period, according to researchers.
The opposition Green Party said the survey showed that half of all New Zealanders knew “first-hand what it means to struggle to get by” and the income gap was continuing to widen as government policies caused further deprivation.
“It also reveals a disturbing percentage of households — 12 percent-are likely to have visited a food bank or received money or clothes from a community organization,” Green Party Co- leader Metiria Turei said in a statement.
The survey showed it was time for real costings into what families actually needed to earn to run a household in a way that enabled people to not just survive, but participate fully in society, Turei said. (Xinhua-ANI)