Several important books that focus on poverty and wealth inequality in Aotearoa New Zealand have been published in recent months, at least partly in an effort to push these issues onto the political agenda in an election year. Scoop Review of Books is continuing its coverage with the following review of and excerpt from Jonathan Boston and Simon Chapple’s Child Poverty in New Zealand (Wellington: Bridget Williams Books)
Review by Marlene Ware of
Closing the Gap
Boston and Chapple have based this book on material garnered from their involvement in the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty, established by the Children’s Commissioner in 2012. It draws on the latest evidence which is thoroughly documented in the accompanying notes.
The book is structured around three themes relating to child poverty: why it matters, how to best to reduce it and mitigating its impacts. The stated aims are to make the case for child poverty, its nature and measurement, the causes and consequences, and the myths. Any responses need to be based on logic, ethics and evidence. The authors suggest that there has been inadequate political attention to the increases in child poverty following the reforms of the 1990’s. Currently, the fiscal deficit, but not the social deficit, is under control. There is a moral imperative to address this social deficit which will bring long term social and economic dividends. However, there is a fiscal cost. They propose various options to reduce child poverty and to mitigate its consequences, suggesting New Zealand has the necessary resources required. It depends on political will to accomplish it.