OECD Report Critical of NZ Child Welfare Spending

In contrast to a Save the Children report which placed NZ as the sixth best country in the world to be a mother, recent data has been released by the OECD that would suggest that children in NZ are more disadvantaged than in many other key countries in the developed world. This blog has already highlighted the issue of over 230,000 (22%) children forced to live in poverty in New Zealand.

The report may be found here: OECD (2009), Doing Better for Children

Source: Yahoo.co.nz 2 September

“The New Zealand government is spending considerably less on child welfare than other OECD countries , a new report says. The report, Doing Better for Children, was the first time the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had reported on child well-being within its 30 member countries.

It identified New Zealand’s biggest shortfall as its limited spending on young children (aged five and under), which was less than half the OECD average.

New Zealand was also struggling in terms of health, with the highest youth suicide rate in the OECD and an above-average child mortality rate. (see our ‘Stats’ page and graph below – click to enlarge)

Children lived in poor material conditions, average family incomes were low by OECD standards and child poverty rates were high.

While children had high rates of educational achievement, there were large gaps between top and bottom performers.

Immunisation rates for measles were the second-worst in the OECD, and for whooping cough, the fifth-worst. (see links at the bottom of this post)

The report said the government should spend considerably more on younger, disadvantaged children and make sure high rates of spending on older children met the needs of the disadvantaged.

France, Germany, Britain and Belgium spent the most on children while Switzerland, Ireland, Australia and Italy spent the least, the Associated Press reported. Despite spending more than the OECD average on children, the United States and Britain both had high teenage pregnancy rates. (NZ has the world’s third highest teenage pregnancy and child maltreatment death rates)

The US was among the worst countries in terms of infant mortality and child poverty and Britain’s underage drinking rates were the worst in the OECD.

OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria acknowledged that the global financial downturn had squeezed public budgets around the world, Agence France Presse reported. “But any short-term savings on spending on children’s education and health would have major long-term costs for society,” he warned.”

See also:
NZers warned of measles epidemic – July 09
Parents are being warned to immunise children as a measles epidemic threatens Auckland schools – Aug 09
Whooping cough epidemic possible – March 09
Whooping cough epidemic in NZ babies – Aug 09