Wellbeing Budget 2023

Support for today
Building for tomorrow

Child poverty has reduced across almost all measures

Child poverty has decreased for eight of the nine child poverty measures since the baseline year of 2018

The latest figures released by Stats NZ for 2021/22 show that eight out of nine child poverty measures have seen a statistically significant reduction since the baseline year of 2018. This compares with the rates reported last year, for 2020/21, which indicated that five out of nine measures were statistically significantly lower than the baseline year.

Child poverty rates in the past two years are now lower than they have been over the past 10 to 15 years on the respective measures we have comparable data for; and rates have almost halved on two of them. The percentage of children living in poverty on the AHC50 measure (which measures child poverty after housing costs) decreased from 30.5 percent in 2008/09 to 15.4 percent in 2021/22. The percentage of children living in material hardship has decreased from 18.1 percent in 2012/13 to 10.3 percent in 2021/22.

We have made significant progress against child poverty targets

The Government has set ambitious 10-year targets that aim to more than halve child poverty rates by 2027/28 compared to the baseline year of 2017/18. To monitor and support progress in achieving the 10-year targets, the Government has also set three-year intermediate targets. In the first three-year target period, the Government achieved two of the three targets (AHC50 and Material Hardship) and made significant progress on the third target, BHC50. The latest data is for the first year of the second intermediate target period, which covers 2021/22 to 2023/24, which is why compliance with the targets is not being assessed this year.

Progress against targets

Progress against targets

fixed-line measure

How many households have very low incomes relative to previous years, after considering housing costs and increases in the cost of living?

Before-housing-costs, moving-line measure

How many households have much lower incomes than typical households?

Material hardship

How many households do not have access to the essential items for living?

  ↓ 77,000
fewer children in AHC50 poverty since 2017/18
↓ 45,600
fewer children in BHC50 poverty since 2017/18
↓ 28,700
fewer children in material hardship since 2017/18
The share of children living in poverty in 2017/18 was… 22.8% 16.5% 13.3%
By 2021/22,
this reduced to…[9]

↓ 7.4 percentage points
since 2017/18

↓ 4.5 percentage points
since 2017/18

↓ 3 percentage points
since 2017/18


  1. [9] Notes on data: Stats NZ made substantial downward revisions to the previously reported rates for 2020/21 (ie, decreased child poverty rates) to take into account more up-to-date data. Under the Act, compliance must be based on the rates published in the target year but, regardless, this would not have affected the Government Statistician’s original assessment of compliance with the targets. The sample size for the 2021/22 Household Economic Survey used to measure child poverty rates was much smaller than normal (8,900 households compared to the targeted 20,000 households as designed) because the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted data collection. Stats NZ has advised that the statistics are appropriate for use in reporting rates of child poverty under the Act. However, national rates, and particularly rates for sub-populations, are subject to higher levels of uncertainty than in previous years.
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