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Fairness – How well are resources distributed?

Access to early childhood education

The result is in line with the target trend (towards sustainable development).  Since 2000, the gap in participation rates in early childhood education for different ethnic groups has narrowed.

As education contributes to individual economic and social well-being, equal access to education is an important indicator of equity. As early childhood education is not compulsory in New Zealand, different rates of participation among ethnic groups can indicate differing access to education.

Graph, Early childhood education participation of year 1 students, by ethnic group.

  • Early childhood education participation rates increased for all ethnic groups between 2000 and 2009.
  • Participation rates for New Zealand European children are the highest. From 2000–04, rates for both Māori and Pacific ethnic groups increased faster than the rate for New Zealand European students, lessening the difference between the groups. From 2000–09, the Pacific and ‘other’ ethnic groups’ participation rate increased the fastest.

Income inequality

The result is opposite to the target trend (away from sustainable development).  Between 1988 and 2009, income inequality between households with high incomes and those with low incomes widened.

The degree of income inequality is often regarded as an indicator of the fairness of the society we live in. Households with low incomes have fewer options for meeting economic needs than those with relatively high incomes. This indicator measures income inequality by comparing the ratio of high-income households to low-income households. The higher the ratio, the greater the level of inequality.

Graph, Income inequality, by selected years.

  • Between 1988 and 2009, the income inequality ratio increased from 2.24 to 2.52. Income inequality fluctuated over the period, peaking at 2.74 in 2004.

Economic hardship

There is no overall trend (in terms of sustainable development the result in neutral).  The proportion of the population in households with low incomes has decreased to a similar level as that for 1988.

People in households with low incomes may have more difficulty meeting their material and non-material needs and experience economic hardship. People in households with low incomes have fewer options for meeting those needs than households with relatively high incomes.

Graph, Proportion of population with low household incomes, by selected years.

  • In 2009, the proportion of the population with low disposable incomes was 15 percent, near the 1988 level.
  • There was some variability during that time with a peak of 29 percent in 1994 and generally a decline since then.
  • Since publication of the 2009 report, the median household income has been revised to use 2007 as the reference year (previously it was 1998).
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