It is made up of 24 items, including the basics such as food and clothes, and some non-essentials that are commonly aspired to. There has been a decline in the number of households who have fewer than 12 of the 24 items and in the number who have fewer than six of the 24 items. However, rates of material hardship differ significantly across household types, with particularly high rates for sole parent households.
Our overall rate of hardship is quite similar to that in European countries, but the pattern is distinctive. Our hardship rates among those over 65 are quite low, while those among under-18s and people under the age of 65 living alone are both quite high. This partly reflects the relative levels of Aotearoa | New Zealand Superannuation to support provided to younger people, such as the Family Tax Credit. Material hardship is also higher among some groups of children, including children with disabilities, and children in households with someone who is disabled.
There has been a decline in rates of income poverty using a threshold anchored to the 2007 median income, both before and after housing costs. ‘Moving line’ measures have been flatter as improving economic conditions in recent years have lifted the median income and the moving line threshold with it. Poverty trends for children are similar, with rates decreasing on most measures. However, poverty rates are higher after housing costs and that the gap with poverty before housing costs is higher than it was 30 years ago. This pattern highlights the role of housing costs as a source of disadvantage for people with the lowest incomes.
Measures of child poverty have been declining in recent years, but trends in the fixed-line and moving-line poverty measures may diverge in future years, as median incomes are expected to grow faster than low incomes. Child poverty and material hardship rates continued to fall over the pandemic period, although Māori and Pacific children continue to experience much higher levels of material hardship.