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Dr Muriel Newman

The Census and Migration

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10 December 06

The Census and Migration

The first results from the 2006 Census have just been released. The $70 million census, conducted on March 7, provides a ‘snapshot’ of who we are as New Zealanders. And for the 429,429 people who were fed up with being categorised according to their ethnic ancestry and called themselves “New Zealanders” in the census, you will be pleased to know that that you are now New Zealand ’s third largest ethnic group!

The information provided by the census is of particular importance to researchers who can use it to quantify the impact of social policies on our population. So, in light of the dire warnings about the detrimental impact on children and society of laws, which undermine marriage and encourage family breakdown, I thought it prudent to examine the statistical trends provided by the census.

The Washington based public policy think tank, the Heritage Foundation, has been a leader in this field, publishing a seminal work “The Real Root Causes of Violent Crime: The Breakdown of Marriage, Family, and Community” by Research Fellow Patrick Fagan in 1995 (to read the full report click here).

In the report he identified the sharp connection between the breakdown of families and rise of serious social problems: “The unfolding debate over welfare reform has been shaped by the wide acceptance in recent years that children born into single-parent families are much more likely than children of intact families to fall into poverty and welfare dependence themselves in later years. While this link between illegitimacy and chronic welfare dependency is now better understood, policymakers also need to appreciate another strong and disturbing pattern: the link between illegitimacy and violent crime and between the lack of parental attachment and violent crime. State-by-state analysis by Heritage scholars indicates that a 10 percent increase in the percentage of children living in single-parent homes leads typically to a 17 percent increase in juvenile crime.

He further states: “The rate of violent teenage crime corresponds with the number of families abandoned by fathers. The scholarly evidence, suggests that at the heart of the explosion of crime is the loss of the capacity of fathers and mothers to be responsible in caring for the children they bring into the world. This loss of love and guidance at the intimate levels of marriage and family has broad social consequences for children and for the wider community. The empirical evidence shows that too many young men and women from broken families tend to have a much weaker sense of connection with their neighbourhood and are prone to exploit its members to satisfy their unmet needs or desires. This contributes to a loss of a sense of community and to the disintegration of neighbourhoods into social chaos and violent crime. If policymakers are to deal with the root causes of crime, therefore, they must deal with the rapid rise of illegitimacy”.

Add to that the evidence (see last week’s column ) that social dysfunction is further fuelled by unemployment and a lack of education, and the 2006 Census statistics display a worrying trend. In 1976, 62 percent of people living in New Zealand aged 15 years or over were married; today, that number has fallen to 48.6 percent. In 1976, only 9 percent of families were single parent families; today that has doubled to 18 percent or 193,635 families.

But in looking at the statistics for Maori, the situation is indeed grim. While the rate of marriage in the general population is 48.6 percent, the rate for Maori is only 29 percent. While 25 percent of the general population aged 15 years and over have no formal educational qualifications, 39.9 percent of Maori have no formal educational qualifications; and While the rate of unemployment for the general population is 5.1 percent, the rate for Maori is 11 percent.

These figures highlight that in spite of all the rhetoric and money spent on social programmes, Maori disadvantage will not be arrested until the government implements policies to encourage marriage, ensure children succeed at school, and require everyone capable of working to get jobs.

The Census also shows the changing face of our population, with New Zealanders of Asian origin now eclipsing Pacific Islanders as the third largest racial group behind European and Maori.

Immigration policy, of course, plays a key role in our population mix. Since the last Census, long term net migration, which includes New Zealanders returning home, new immigrants, visitors, students, and workers, has ranged from a high of 38,000 in 2002 to a low of 6,800 last year. These new New Zealanders include a net 18,000 from the Middle East and Africa, over 90,000 from Asia, 50,000 from the UK and Europe, 5,000 from the Americas , and some 40,000 from the Pacific region. Over that period 230,000 New Zealanders left the county – many bound for Australia – and 125,000 returned home. For more see

When we look around the world, massive problems caused by immigration, are emerging. In particular, problems arise when large numbers of immigrants with cultures that embrace radical religious and fundamentalist doctrines, arrive in a country and attempt to live according to their own customs and laws rather than those of the host country. This situation often arises in countries that embrace multiculturalism, a philosophy that holds that the values and culture of minority groups must be given equal status to the values and culture of the majority of citizens.

Multiculturalism is based on the Marxist view that majority cultures are inherently oppressive and that they victimise minority cultures. But giving minority cultures equal status to those of the majority (also the goal of biculturalism) can lead to social and political unrest.

Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister has blamed last year’s suicide bombings in London on his government’s embracing of multiculturalism. He has now formally declared Britain ‘s multicultural experiment over as he told immigrants they have a “right to be different” and a “duty to integrate” with the mainstream of society (to read his speech click here).

In fact, taking the experiences of these other countries into account, surely New Zealand should reject any calls for multiculturalism in favour of the common sense approach that while we welcome people from other cultures and respect their right to be different, we expect them to fully integrate into our society and to express any differences in ways that are fully consistent with our shared values.

It has long been argued that with around a million New Zealanders living abroad, the very best immigrants are Kiwis returning home. Since many have left this country seeking better paid jobs, surely an effective way to encourage them to return is through policies that improve wages and raise our standard of living. Phil Rennie, a Policy Analyst at the Centre for Independent Studies and this week’s Guest Commentator argues that there is no reason why we could not have an immediate cut in taxes. Lower taxes would not only be a powerful drawcard, but it would also help to lift one of the more dismal statistics that have emerged from the Census, that the median income of all New Zealanders aged 15 years or over is only $24,400! Click to view guest column

The poll this week asks: Do you believe as a nation we should embrace or reject the doctrine of multiculturalism? Click here to vote

Reader’s comments will be posted on the NZCPD Forum page click to view .

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