Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Grandiose poverty statements both bury the desperation and understate the progress

In N.Z. poverty is defined by some – including various quasi official qangos as including all who earn less than 50% of the median wage:


The line has been trending down since 1990. Is there no poverty? Of course there is. Big gesture alarming statistics hide the extent of extreme poverty while burying the hope which improvement over time is offering.

Study of those in absolute poverty shows they are living far differently from those earning the $30,000 a year the “poverty line” sets – because its a meaningless number – especially if you are poor.

On the other hand even the minimum wage for a 40 hour week delivers a gross income above that line… again probably meaningless because circumstances vary so much.

A more useful idea centres on the fact that a smaller and smaller proportion of people stay low earners for any length of time providing they can enter the workforce. The stress then needs to be on up-skilling to do that and making sure the workforce is easy to enter.

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