A critical analysis of New Zealand's family policies under the National-led Government 2008-2014

Butler, Ellen
Nicholls, Kate
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Master of Arts in Policy Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

This dissertation undertakes a critical analysis of New Zealand’s family policies under the National-led government between 2008 and 2014. Research on this topic is important because, like many other OECD countries, New Zealand faces an ageing population, something that impacts on society and creates many challenges. Policies aimed at helping families achieve work-life balance attempt to minimise these challenges by enabling society to have a generation replacement fertility rate whilst balancing a high labour participation rate. The main argument throughout this paper is that over the period 2008 to 2014, the National Government has made minimal policy reforms to assist families to achieve an optimal work-life balance. Additionally, the National Government has not contributed to minimising the overall societal challenges that New Zealand is faced with.

In order to explore this perspective, I will base my critical analysis upon an in-depth analysis of secondary data. The secondary data analysis will be based on international literature from OECD countries facing similar social challenges to New Zealand. The data will provide work-life policy standards that are considered to be better/best practice. Applying a comparative perspective will allow me to gauge how New Zealand compares in its work-life policy framework. A key finding from this research suggests the National Government has focused on Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) welfare reform that only targets a minority of families in order to minimise fiscal costs. This appears to have crowded out the opportunity for reforms in other aspects of New Zealand’s work-life policy framework such as our ageing population. In order to minimise the social challenges New Zealand faces, the National Government needs to broaden its focus beyond the DPB reforms and more on other work-life policy areas. Such a reform process would aim to increases female accessibility to employment, while sustaining the replacement fertility rate. This would contribute toward maximising human capital and thus minimising the burden of an ageing population.

Family , Policy , New Zealand , National-led Government
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