Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Poverty, policy and the state

Poverty, policy and the state: The changing face of social security

Mchael O’Brien
Copyright Date: 2008
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Poverty, policy and the state
    Book Description:

    New Zealand has experienced both sweeping economic and social reform and growing poverty and income inequality in the last twenty years. This book explores the changes to social security provision and coverage in the context of these developments and of widening national and international poverty and inequality. The book argues that the policy initiatives have altered the nature of social security and in doing so have significantly transformed the nature of social citizenship. The author brings the New Zealand data together in a way that has not been done previously and provides the reader with both a detailed discussion of the work on poverty and living standards in New Zealand and the political and economic context within which social security changes have occurred. Linking the discussion to international changes in social security and to the international literature on poverty and inequality, the author demonstrates the important implications the New Zealand directions have for the development of social security internationally. The book will be of considerable interest for all those interested in international reshaping of state support for the poorest and most vulnerable and its development in a neoliberal and Third Way.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-298-9
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. List of tables and figures
    (pp. iv-iv)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. v-vi)
  5. List of abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  6. ONE Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    In his 1944 publication, Mulgan, an early New Zealand writer, talks enthusiastically, somewhat wistfully perhaps, of a vision of a New Zealand in which ‘few would be rich, none would be poor’ (quoted in Simpson, 1984,p 8). It is a vision in which there is a culture, history and tradition of care, fairness, support and protection to ensure the best interests and well-being of all citizens. This approach is a hallmark of what has been widely, even if at times somewhat loosely, understood as central to New Zealand, New Zealand society and the New Zealand ‘way of life’. Social security...

  7. TWO Mapping the territory: a brief historical overview
    (pp. 13-38)

    In order to provide the basis for the discussion and analysis that is to follow, Chapter Two sets out a brief description of the development and changes in social security in New Zealand. It is descriptive rather than analytical. The focus is on summarising and describing the structural and organisational changes that have taken place and that are proposed as at the beginning of 2007. It begins by outlining the social security dimensions in the early period of colonial settlement and proceeds from there to identify the focus and approach of the 1897 Workers Compensation Act and the 1898 Old...

  8. THREE Defining and measuring inequality and poverty
    (pp. 39-60)

    A range of approaches has been used to measure the shape, extent and distribution of poverty in New Zealand over the last two decades. These approaches are summarised and reviewed here and are linked with the international literature on poverty definition and measurement. Because of the focus of this book, particular attention is given to recent work on the measurement of living standards and on child poverty. The discussion here provides an essential background to the review of the experiences of poverty and low living standards in the next two chapters and to the detailed work in Part Two on...

  9. FOUR Facing the greatest risk of poverty: who?
    (pp. 61-84)

    Mirroring the picture reflected in the international literature, poverty, low living standards and income support receipt are distributed very unevenly among the population of New Zealand. (For useful international material, see Walker and Walker, 1997, and Part II of Gordon and Townsend, 2000.) The focus in this chapter is on that uneven distribution. The chapter summarises and reviews available statistical and descriptive material, highlighting the uneven distribution, the major groups receiving income support from the state, key aspects of the changes in that distribution over the last two decades and the data on living standards and their implications for children....

  10. FIVE Poverty and low living standards: effects and impacts
    (pp. 85-120)

    In the last two decades in New Zealand a range of work has focused on (1) the living standards of those below the poverty line and the effects of poverty and (2) managing daily life on state income support. This chapter draws this work together by focusing on the research and its implications in five broad dimensions: survival and participation, home, access to essential services, making ends meet and finally personal and social relationships. In doing so, it builds on and identifies personal, family and community dimensions of the quantitative data summarised in the last chapter. The final part of...

  11. SIX Politics, globalisation and social security
    (pp. 123-146)

    The first part of this book set out the growth in poverty, its effects and impacts, particularly for the most vulnerable, and the changing (and in many instances deteriorating) living standards for many New Zealanders over the last two decades. The effects, the immediately contributing and causal roots, and the responses to that poverty are clear, particularly in relation to the implications for families and children. Furthermore, as the earlier discussion noted, the increases in poverty over the two decades reviewed here have been accompanied by a significant widening of income inequality and a deteriorating sense of ‘belonging and participation’....

  12. SEVEN The Fourth Labour government: 1984-90
    (pp. 147-168)

    The Fourth Labour government between 1984 and 1990 undertook a series of policy decisions and introduced a range of policy measures that changed the nature of New Zealand economy dramatically. The details and substantial discussion around this are not necessary for our current purposes. (Readers interested in a more extensive discussion of these and related issues should consult James, 1986; Jesson, 1987; Jesson et al, 1988; Jesson, 1989;Walker, 1989; Holland and Boston, 1990a; James, 1992;O’Brien and Wilkes, 1993;Roper and Rudd, 1993;Sharp, 1994;Kelsey, 1995; Kelsey and O’Brien, 1995; Easton, 1997a, 1997c; Jesson, 1999;Roper, 2005.) However, the broad parameters are important in...

  13. EIGHT National and National-led government: 1990-99
    (pp. 169-194)

    The economic policies put in place by the Fourth Labour government were pursued by its National successor elected in 1990. In many respects, the policy directions introduced by Labour sat more comfortably with the National (conservative) political party with its traditional emphasis on the individual, on limited state, on the primacy of individual and family responsibility, and primacy of the market. These emphases link with its political roots in rural and middle-class urban New Zealand, among the business community and in the financial elite. The continuing push towards privatisation and the increasing location of New Zealand within the global economic...

  14. NINE The early 21st century: Labour-led developments
    (pp. 195-224)

    The 1999 general election gave the Labour Party a majority of seats, but in order to govern it needed the support of the Alliance, a grouping to the left of Labour and including a number of people who had left the Labour Party during the period of the Fourth Labour government, disenchanted with that government’s direction. The Alliance subsequently split apart after significant internal disputes based around a mixture of personality and political issues. Nevertheless, they continued to support Labour as the governing party. Labour has continued to be the major political party at the last two elections and has...

  15. TEN Social security: how social, how secure?
    (pp. 225-246)

    The three previous chapters have reviewed the significant shifts and changes in social security policy in New Zealand during the last two decades. This chapter reflects on those changes and their implications for the development of social security in New Zealand. It draws out the continuities and differences in the régimes throughout this period, locating and exploring those continuities and differences within a range of broader literature and policy work focused on changes in social security and the attendant changes in the relationship between the individual and the state, reflected in and through changes to what it means to be...

  16. Appendix A: Items used in the calibration of the ELSI scale
    (pp. 247-248)
  17. Appendix B: Purpose of social security
    (pp. 249-250)
  18. References
    (pp. 251-272)
  19. Index
    (pp. 273-280)