UPfront Two decades in NZ

We’re older and more ethnically diverse, choosing to have babies later, less likely to be part of traditional nuclear family, and undertaking tertiary training in greater numbers.

That’s rough sketch of the ordinary New Zealander culled from book mapping 20 years of political, social and economic change in the country. Launched last month, From Birth to Death V is the latest in series by Victoria University associate professor Judith Davy.

Trends include continuing ethnic disparities that generally disadvantage Maori and Pacific people; fall in home ownership; increased participation in tertiary training, and issues related to population ageing. An ageing workforce, says Davy, presents challenges to provide appropriate education and training for people in mid-life.

Work-wise, an increase in self-employment and part-time work mirrors the Aussie experience. However, workforce participation by the 60-65 age group has increased since 1991 following changes in eligibility for superannuation.

The implications of these trends and continuing youth unemployment require examination, says Davy, along with the ability of people to save for their retirement and decisions surrounding exit from the workforce (see also this month’s cover story).

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