Academic journal article New Zealand Sociology

Recent Government Social Research Activity 1

Academic journal article New Zealand Sociology

Recent Government Social Research Activity 1

Article excerpt

Over the recent period some sociologically-relevant reports have emanated from MSD, sometimes as part of wider government activities.

After a gap of 6 years a new issue of Social Report (www.msd.govt.nz/socialreport) has been published, accompanied by userfriendly downloadable charts and tables. There are 49 indicators - 6 new: selfrated health; psychological distress; satisfaction with job; material hardship; acceptance of diversity; ability to be yourself in New Zealand, while one couldn't be updated (Adult literacy and numeracy skills). The General Social Survey (2014 results are included) has been used as the vehicle for more of the indicators. Useful assessments of changes compared to earlier reports have been made. Out of 28 indicators, there was reported improvement from 2008 to 2014 for 28, while ten measures had worsened. Breakdowns by demographics and regional areas have been made and overseas comparisons drawn.

A frequent concern is to what extent the New Zealand welfare state has been hollowed out compared to other (e.g. OECD) countries. Fletcher (2015) uses standard methodologies to comment on the relative levels of New Zealand's financial support for beneficiaries.

A 'Social Assistance Chronology' (McKenzie, 2012) had been launched a few years ago alongside the departmental history (Garlick, 2012) and is now available on-line. This "lists policy changes, legislation and key documents such as reports from Commissions of Inquiry and Ministerial Inquiries, government convened working parties, public discussion documents and Government policy statements. It also details administrative and service delivery arrangements" from 1844 to the present and it is intended that it will be kept updated. This supplements McTaggart's study (2005).

MSD's invaluable Living Standards Research continues with two very useful 2015 papers (Perry, 2015a, 2015b) on children's hardship and trends in material wellbeing respectively. Perry (2015a) presents the MSD research and analysis used in advice for the Budget 2015 child hardship package. The 2015 Non-income Measures (NIMs) report sits alongside the annual Income Measures report, and updates his 2009 report. It, too, is based on Household Economic Surveys with further development of indices: the DEP-17 upgrades the earlier 14-item DEP index, while the MWI (material wellbeing index) further develops the earlier ELSI measure. International comparisons of material hardship using the EU-13 index are also included. The 2016 update of the Household Incomes report should be available mid-2016.

Other research is linked to various expert panels that have reports on the MSD website. Treasury/MSD Research for the Modernising Child, Youth and Family Expert Panel involves three studies:

* Outcomes for children and young people who have contact with Child, Youth and Family;

* Young women with a history of involvement with Child, Youth and Family during childhood; and

* The effects of childhood abuse and neglect on increased risk of mortality during teenage years. …

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