Concern Over Projected Increase in Sole-Parent Homes

Family First NZ is sounding a warning over the projected increase in sole-parent households based on figures released by Statistics NZ today.

“The number of one-parent families is projected to increase from 219,000 in 2006 to 267,000 in 2031. At the same time, the number of two-parent families is projected to decrease from 480,000 to 467,000. By 2031, the rate of homes with just one parent will have risen from 31% to 36%. While we must accept that family breakdown and death do happen, there should be concern over the rate of one-parent families and declining rates of marriage,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“We should be doing everything we can to promote stable two-parent homes for the sake of the kids, and for the sake of the adults having the support they need to bring up the kids. One only needs to look at the research around fatherlessness, the effect on young people, and the difficulties that sole parents face to see that we must adopt policies that encourage and strengthen two-parent families. The very best environment that we can offer a child is when the two adults that created that child are committed to each other and to raising that child together.”

“Whenever marriage is promoted, it has often been labeled as an attack on solo or divorced parents, and that has kept us from recognising the qualitative benefits of marriage which have been discovered from decades of research. In virtually every category that social science has measured, children and adults do better when parents get married and stay married – provided there is no presence of high conflict or violence.”

Family First released a report in October 2008 – “The Value of Family – Fiscal Benefits of Marriage and Reducing Family Breakdown in New Zealand” – estimating the price of family breakdown and decreasing marriage rates to be costing the taxpayer at least $1 billion per year and $8 billion over the past decade.

The report also identified the existence of a marriage penalty tax. A married couple both working and on low incomes, or a family with a full-time parent are being penalised by up to $15,000 in their household income compared with a couple who separates or divorces. Low income families are being hardest hit by NZ’s ‘marriage penalty tax’ and poverty trap, according to calculations obtained from the NZ Institute of Economic Research (NZIER).

“With the report showing the huge fiscal cost of family breakdown and figures showing the tax disincentives for marriage, it is urgent that these factors be included in developing policy around poverty and family breakdown,” says Mr McCoskrie. “The decline of marriage, NZ’s high teenage fertility rate, and our rate of solo parenthood is not only a moral or social concern but should also be a concern of government and policymakers.”

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