Case Studies

New Zealand – Tackling Child Poverty

Tags: Wellbeing Policy Design

An important feature of the wellbeing economy is that it pays attention to the wellbeing of future generations. This means that the wellbeing of children and young people is an essential aspect of a country’s economic strategy.

“Success is about making New Zealand both a great place to make a living, and a great place to make a life”. – Grant Robertson, Finance Minister of New Zealand

Child poverty was one particular area that created the impetus for the creation of New Zealand’s Wellbeing Budget in 2019. Following years of pressure from social movements and expert advice to address the issue, data analysed by the Ministry of Social Development confirmed widespread child poverty in the country. It became a national scandal that 30 years of GDP growth had not improved the measure of child poverty, not even in absolute terms. This issue was a widely accepted illustration of the need to look beyond GDP growth.

Consequently, the government passed the Child Poverty Reduction Act 2018. The Act defines four primary measures of child poverty – two measures of low income households, one measure of material hardship, and one measure of persistent poverty. It also defines six supplementary measures of child poverty. The Act requires the government to publish and report on reduction targets for each of the primary measures, with a duty to explain any non-compliance with the targets. The analysis must include trends for identified populations, such as for the indigenous population of the country.

The Government presented the country’s first Child Poverty Report within the Wellbeing Budget of May 2019. It presented baseline data for the primary measures of child poverty, and defined targets for the measures that the government aimed to achieve in three years and in ten years. It also presented modelling work by the Treasury explaining how the whole-of-government policies in the Budget would contribute to achieving those targets.

Following this, the New Zealand Government also created a Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy, which it published in August 2019, to work toward the targets set. The strategy identifies six outcomes:

  • Children and young people have what they need
  • Children and young people are loved, safe, and nurtured
  • Children and young people are happy and healthy
  • Children and young people are learning and developing
  • Children and young people are accepted, respected, and connected
  • Children and young people are involved and empowered

For each outcome, the Government has selected a set of statistical indicators for monitoring trends over time. Some of these indicators will come from a new survey of young people, designed to gather data about health and wellbeing. This nationwide survey will take place in 2021.

This case study illustrates how a government can use evidence as a benchmark to create a dashboard of statistical measures and indicators, in order to set targets and report on progress towards a Wellbeing Economy.

Find out more here.

New Zealand – The Just Transitions Unit’ tags=’Wellbeing Policy Design’ custom_id=’What are the goals of a Wellbeing Economy? / What is Wellbeing Economic Policy?’ av_uid=’av-131mirj’]
In May 2018, the New Zealand Government set up the Just Transitions Unit in its Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, to foster a transition towards a low emissions economy that is “fair, equitable and inclusive”. The unit operates by creating partnerships in communities undergoing a major transition.

These partnerships have four objectives:

  1. Build an understanding of potential pathways to transform the economy to low emissions;
  2. Identify, create and support new opportunities, new jobs, new skills, and new investments that will emerge from the transition;
  3. Better understand how the transition might impact different communities, regions or sectors; and
  4. Make choices about how to manage these impacts in a just and inclusive way.

As part of its climate change programme, the Government stopped issuing new permits for offshore oil and gas exploration in 2018. That policy has a large impact on economic security in the Taranaki region, which has supported oil and gas exploration off the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand for several decades. The Just Transitions Unit has worked in that region, with a particular focus on its energy sector in a low emissions future.

It established a Taranaki Transition Lead Group of representatives drawn from central government, local government, Māori, business, the workforce, education and community organisations. This group facilitated 29 workshops around the region, including a specialised event for youth. It also sponsored a creative competition for students aged 7–18 to describe their vision for 2050; more than 140 took part. Material from this process fed into a draft Taranaki 2050 Roadmap, launched at a National Just Transition Summit hosted in the region in May 2019. The Summit involved 550 people from around the country. Kate Raworth (author of Doughnut Economics) was a keynote speaker.

Following the finalisation of the Roadmap in August 2019, the Lead Group then facilitated workshops to create eleven Transition Pathway Action Plans (TPAPs). The Energy TPAP, for example, agreed on the following Action Statement:

“Using our know how and resources we will transition to a world-leading energy eco-system that provides sustainable, secure and affordable low-emissions energy by 2050, while creating meaningful work, community well-being and prosperity for generations to come.”

Projects to implement the TPAPs are under way, including a project to build a Clean Energy centre in Taranaki.

Find out more here.

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