Unmarried couples causing child poverty - lobby group

Poverty
Poverty

Unmarried parents are one of the main causes of child poverty, a new report by a conservative lobby group claims.

The Family First-funded report by researcher Lindsay Mitchell on the causes of child poverty argues that the 'elephant in the room' in the debate is family structure.

"The best protector against child poverty is two married parents," Mitchell told Newshub. "That's what the evidence is telling us. It's not just New Zealand, it's in other developed English speaking countries: Australia, the US." Mitchell says she thinks family dynamics are more responsible for poverty than other factors such as unemployment, high housing costs, low wages or insufficient social security benefits. She says things were different in 1960. "Just over 95 percent of children were born to married couples. Today that's dropped to just over 50 percent. We have a much higher rate now of sole parents." For Maori, 72 percent of births were to married parents in 1968, but by 2015 that number had fallen to just 21 percent. But The Family Centre social policy researcher Charles Waldergrave told Fairfax the research is flawed. "You can't just correlate things and then start talking about causality, you just can't do it that way. "The fact that married people and people in de facto relationships earn different amounts of money doesn't make it causal in terms of child poverty." Waldergrave said the main causes of child poverty were low incomes, casualisation of work and the benefit system. Newshub.