We’re measuring poverty the wrong way

We’re measuring poverty the wrong way

There isn't universal agreement on what 'poverty' actually is

The problem with initiatives designed to reduce poverty is that there isn’t universal agreement on what ‘poverty’ actually is.¬†There are at least two definitions in use in New Zealand and both of them are heavily subjective and open to interpretation depending on your political slant.

So when the Govt claims that it will ‘lift 88,000 families out of poverty’ there is understandable scepticism about what that means. Additionally, the whole concept of ‘poverty’ focuses on the negative and creates a climate where social service advocates feel they need to hype it up and paint as negative a picture as possible.

So here’s a suggestion: how about we measure ‘access to opportunity’ (or lack of it) rather than poverty. Such a measure would have a much more positive focus on things that we could fix where they were identified: the opportunity to access education from pre-school to tertiary; the opportunity to access support and services to eat healthily and well; the opportunity to access warm, safe, housing – the list goes on.

In this way we would be putting our energies into things that made a tangible difference rather than talking up a measure that will still see us arguing a decade from now.

 

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