Marriage versus De Facto relationships

Family First claims that a drop in marriage rates is one of the main drivers of child poverty. I’m not sure they have this right.

Stuff: Lobby group Family First blames unmarried couples for child poverty

An unmarried couple with children is highly likely to be struggling in poverty, a conservative lobby group claims. 

The claim comes from a new report by researcher and artist Lindsay Mitchell, who said there was “overwhelming and incontrovertible” evidence that a drop in marriage rates was one of the main drivers of an increase in child poverty.

The glossy report, funded by conservative Christian lobby group Family First, looked at household income and family structures from the 1960s to the current day.

A heck of a lot has changed in New Zealand society since the 1960s. I have major doubts over marriage rates being such a big factor.

It states that with people having fewer children than in the past and people delaying birth until they were older, families should be better off financially, but that was not the case.

A lot of families are better off financially, especially those that have fewer children and have families when they are older.

“Despite marriage being the best protector against child poverty it has become politically unfashionable – some argue insensitive – to express such a view.

“But if there is to be any political will to solve child poverty the issue has to be confronted.”

Bollocks.

A stable family with two parents in a relationship and with a steady and reasonable level of income are certainly significant factors.

Whether the parents are married or not is largely irrelevant. Marriage is a legal document and a social custom but it has become optional and unnecessary for a good family environment.

Unsurprisingly, single-parent families were described as the poorest in New Zealand.

Single parent families are naturally going to find things tougher financially generally – although no always, a married couple with one partner an alcoholic or drug addict or in prison will tend towards being poorer.

But currently, 27 per cent of registered births were to cohabiting, or de facto, parents.

Mitchell said these relationships became less stable over time, the parents were poorer than married parents and separation by the time a child was aged five was four to six times greater than married parents.

I don’t see any reason why a de facto relationship should become more unstable over time than a marriage relationship.

A legal marriage will have little effect on the strength of a relationship.

Citing an Australian study, the report suggests married men earned a substantially higher wage than a cohabiting man and worked substantially longer hours.

But that could mean that higher earners were more likely to get married.

The cost of marriage can be a deterrent to poorer people.

I know of stable two parent families that put more priority on providing for their current needs than forking out thousands of dollars on a wedding that they would quite like but are happy to postpone.

But The Family Centre social policy researcher Charles Waldergrave said that to simply say that married people’s children were better off was a misuse of statistics.

“You can’t just correlate things and then start talking about causality, you just can’t do it that way.

“The fact that married people and people in de facto relationships earn different amounts of money doesn’t make it causal in terms of child poverty.”

That’s right.

Middle-class people were more likely to get married while de facto relationships were more common in lower-income households, but factors such as the economy affected both.

The main causes of child poverty was not a lack of marriages, but things like low incomes, the casualisation of work and the benefit system, he said.

“Poverty is essentially the access to resources and in a capitalist society that depends on income.”

And something that has changed significantly since the 1960s (fifty years ago) is we have become a far more consumerist society. This affects families whether parents are married or not.

The cost of weddings – how many people want to get married – is huge for lower income earners. Without the social pressure to get married it’s easy to postpone a spending spree that is actually unnecessary.  It’s an optional extra.

Mitchell said her aim with the research was not to ruffle feathers, but present information so it could be debated.

Many of those in de facto relationships were in their second and third relationships, supporting children from previous partners.

Remarriage and blended families with marriage involved are also common.

While cohabiting parents were more likely to have only one child, they were also more likely than married couples to have four or more.

Which means?

They were also much less stable than married couples, although Mitchell was unsure why.

That’s very poorly stated.

Many de facto relationships are as stable as many married relationships.

Of course some de facto relationships will be less stable than many married relationships, they can (but far from always) involve far less commitment.

If marriage was made compulsory it wouldn’t transform poor partners into reliable partners.

Poor partners are less likely to get married. It may be no more than that.

“Child poverty has become a really big issue and everyone is concerned about it…but we don’t hear anyone talking about the change in family structure.”

Family First national director Bob McCoskrie described the link between a drop in marriage and rise in child poverty as the “elephant in the room”.

“People would like to believe that there isn’t [a link] but unfortunately. the research shows de facto or cohabiting relationships are less stable.”

But in the 1960s it is very likely that shotgun weddings – or rushed marriages precipitated by pregnancy – would have had a higher proportion of  unstable relationships than carefully planned marriages and families.

As far as marriage is concerned probably all that has changed as the relationships least likely to endure never involve marriage any more.

A forced marriage with a dysfunctional relationship in which society puts pressure on for the  marriage to continue regardless of obvious problems – sometimes quite serious problems – is not a good solution.

Family First has raised some important issues – but if they really wanted debate rather than simply to promote their ideal of Marriage First then they would have presented their research without jumping to poorly supported solutions that simply fitted their last century world view.

New Zealand society has changed enormously over the last half century. Trying to force things back to some idealistic model of marriage is not a good way to address the obvious issues we currently have.

Encouraging and supporting better relationships and more responsible parenting- whether married or de facto – is surely a far better approach.

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125 Comments

  1. PDB

     /  30th May 2016

    So a simple piece of paper with some signatures on it protects people from poverty? Brilliant!

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  30th May 2016

      Marriage is much more than that, as anyone who’s married will know-if it was, who’d bother?- but if marrying meant that the people were now in no danger of being poor, that would indeed be a brilliant solution.

      So there are no poor married couples ? What good news. I must find a new husband. Remuera here I come.

      The cost of marriage being a deterrent is rubbish. Nobody has to spend thousands. I have been to lovely weddings that cost nothing like that. I knew girls who wore their mother’s wedding dresses, which cost nothing. I made mine, as I had always wanted a simple muslin one and found a pretty material that looked like barred muslin although it was a heavier version. I can’t now remember what it cost, but it wasn’t much although more expensive than ‘cheesecloth’ of course. I wore my mother’s pearls-something borrowed.

      The only necessary cost is the license.. There is no need to have a an expensive catered meal or expensive honeymoon.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  30th May 2016

        I knew an old couple who married in the courthouse rather than having a big wedding because they wanted the money for a deposit on a house. I imagine that people can still do that.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  30th May 2016

          As long as you’ve got a registered marriage celebrant and witnesses I think you can get married in a coffee kiosk if you want to Kitty.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  30th May 2016

            I wondered if the courtroom would be cheaper than a celebrant, that’s all.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th May 2016

              Courthouse !

            • Gezza

               /  30th May 2016

              Cheapest option is probably a Registry Office, Kitty – $173 including the marriage licence.
              https://www.govt.nz/browse/family-and-whanau/getting-married/how-to-get-married-in-nz/
              Did you have anyone in mind, and do they know yet?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th May 2016

              No, it’s too soon after my husband’s death to even think of that.

              Have you ever known anyone who’s married his widow’s sister ? I haven’t.

            • Gezza

               /  30th May 2016

              No. One of my uncles married his brother’s girlfriend. That didn’t go down well for about a decade, and while their wives get on fine it’s still not a good idea to get those two uncs talking about how they met their spouses when they’ve been on the plonk.

            • Dougal

               /  30th May 2016

              Best freudian slip I have seen for a while thanks Kitty. Some might argue the courtroom is where it ends and likely a very expensive end in many cases. Got a bit of a giggle out of that one thank you 🙂

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th May 2016

              I wish that we could edit 😀 😀 😀

              I know nobody who knows a man who’s married his widow’s sister. I wonder why this is.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  30th May 2016

              I met a lovely couple recently who are the survivors of two couples that were originally friends but both partners died. Not quite the same as the widow’s sister but I guess everything possible happens some time.

              I’m just a fan for doing whatever works and doesn’t harm anyone.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th May 2016

              Umm…can’t you see any reason why a man CAN’T marry his widow’s sister ?

              Think about it !!!

      • Nelly Smickers

         /  30th May 2016

        “…..Remuera here I come” :/

        Do you have any idea exactly what street you might head for Kitty??

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  30th May 2016

          No, it was a throwaway line.

          Reply
          • Nelly Smickers

             /  30th May 2016

            Oh, that’s a real shame Kitzzie……I was so hoping we may have been able to catch up for a morning tea at my place

            Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  30th May 2016

        Surely SOMEONE can see why no man would ever, ever marry his WIDOW’S sister !!!

        Reply
  2. Of course it doesn’t as you well know. The absence of respect, love and commitment to succeed in the relationship are the causes of relationship failures. Single parents in the absence of close relatives support have an almost impossible task to do especially in the critical early childhood development years, Some do it and succeed but in every case they have to have determination to succeed beyond the normal. It was not too long ago when it was a common belief that they had made their bed and would have to lie on it, wasn’t it?
    Where do the missing partners go? I appreciate that widows and widowers are different and need extra support, what I am talking about is the ones who disappear to new pastures and forget their responsibility for the children left behind. Those who I little time for are the mothers of the children from multiple fathers who continue to get pregnant. They are a medical problem in my view.

    Reply
    • Brown

       /  30th May 2016

      ”The absence of respect, love and commitment to succeed in the relationship are the causes of relationship failures.”

      Yep. The issue is that today people think that sex is love and when you get bored you find another sexual partner saying, ”It wasn’t working out for me”. That’s not commitment but its what I expect from people who are self centered.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  30th May 2016

        My own view is that marriage is best, but I respect the fact that other people see it differently.

        I don’t think that people today think that sex is love-people aren’t that stupid-or there would be no marriages Do you think that, Brown ? .My former neighbours are probably still not married, but they are neither poor nor promiscuous-I wish that my house was worth what theirs is and that I had their income.

        Reply
      • Gezza

         /  30th May 2016

        I think that marriage is best to be honest, especially if you’re planning to have and raise children. I’m rather puzzled by those who don’t want to marry. It always seems to me they might just be a little bit scared it would be bothersome to get out a marriage should they ever decide they want to. Which, of course, when you get married, is something you both in theory decide to commit yourself formally to not doing.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  30th May 2016

          A friend knows a woman who’s been married 6 times. Widowed and divorced, she makes a career (although she doesn’t call it that) of marriage. Her last (current ?) husband was on the scene 6 WEEKS after his predecessor died-she seems to have sought him out. I find this bizarre. If I met a man who’d been married 6 times, I would be very hesitant indeed ! Which would be less appealing-someone who had been widowed more than divorced or the other way round ?

          If someone asked me out 6 weeks after his last wife died, I’d be wondering how deep his emotions were, especially if she’d been wife No.6..

          An unlucky friend was seen coming by the predatory bitch from hell who made his life a misery. He was husband No.3.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  30th May 2016

            Which would be less appealing-someone who had been widowed more than divorced or the other way round ?

            I’d definitely be very wary of someone who’d been widowed 6 times or more. I’d be preferring to make my own meals and coffee for quite some time I suspect.

            If she’d been divorced as often as that at least I’d know what was coming and that she was probably going to be an expensive purchase.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th May 2016

              I suppose that you’d also be cautious about taking out a very large life insurance policy if she’d been widowed that often !

              Some men must be very trusting. Our lovely, kind friend was, and very soon found out why she’d had two divorces already, the poor trusting fool. He was a marked man from the time that she discovered that he was single and owned a house outright.

          • Nelly Smickers

             /  30th May 2016

            That is indeed a bit of worrying story Kitty :/

            It would be interesting to know if the woman your friend referred to looks anything like this??

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  30th May 2016

              is that Zsa Zsa Gabor….she has aged!

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th May 2016

              I don’t know what she looks like and am not really interested.

              A 6 times married man would be a non-starter for me, and I am surprised that any man was mug enough to be number 6.

              Henry VIII was married 6 times. Divorced, beheaded, died/Divorced, beheaded survived. No, thank you.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  30th May 2016

          Exactly, Gezza. When I make a promise I keep it. Something to do with my self-respect and my parents’ example I guess. I find it makes life simpler and easier, though of course not always easy.

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  30th May 2016

            Do you tell lies Al?

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  30th May 2016

              No, Blazer. I avoid stating the truth when necessary but I try to avoid telling any lies.

          • Gezza

             /  30th May 2016

            Same Alan. Marriage isn’t something that guarantees a relationship will work. But I think it’s the best way of letting your partner know you intend to do everything you reasonably can to make it work. Marriages aren’t about the good times together, so much as they are about getting through the bad times together, because you’ve already said to each other, in writing, that you want to do it together.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th May 2016

              I agree, Gezza, and I have been in both. The first time, I left my partner/fiance before the wedding, and was very thankful that we were not married.

              But I wouldn’t tell someone that they were wrong not to marry, it’s none of my business.

            • Nelly Smickers

               /  30th May 2016

              Did ya keep the ring Kitzy??

              I would have >:D

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th May 2016

              Er, yes.

            • Gezza

               /  30th May 2016

              Fair enough too Kitty if you paid for it.

  3. Blazer

     /  30th May 2016

    Are humans naturally wired to be monogamous?

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  30th May 2016

      Not on the evidence available Blazer, no. But then when we made our societies a bit more complex and the raising of children an expensive task that the whole town didn’t necessarily want to do, I suspect the idea got spudded in pretty well for that and a variety of what seemed like other good reasons.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  30th May 2016

        Are you talking about the ‘American Dream’ or alot earlier than that?Hard to resist natural instincts.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  30th May 2016

          Hard to resist natural instincts.
          Depends whether you want to.

          Reply
    • Dougal

       /  30th May 2016

      Humans or men..While categorised the same, men on the other hand, IMO, are not.

      Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  30th May 2016

    It’s pretty clear that a child in a stable family with loving parents is immensely privileged relative to one that isn’t. Irrespective of income or wealth.

    The issue is how to avoid Government interventions making that less likely rather than more likely.

    Reply
  5. Corky

     /  30th May 2016

    Yet we have gay people fighting tooth and nail for the right to marry. Why? Because for all its weaknesses, religious/ legal marriage has that little bit extra. An undefinable quality shacking up with a partner will never match. Marriage implies commitment. De facto implies commitment if you want .If not, see ya later. Oh, yeah, and you can look after the kids.

    Liberal thought, liberal ways have held sway since the 60s. And I must admit it was a breath of fresh air after repressive pre and postwar years. However, such ways have not been scrutinised enough for the fruits they have produced. Why? Well this report shows why. Conservative thought just isn’t taken seriously. And is quashed as soon as it appears.

    But as Donald Trump is showing, conservatism isn’t dead, its just many folk don’t like to admit publicly that they don’t agree with the way society is heading. It just ain’t. cool.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  30th May 2016

      The idea of freedom in relationships is much older than the 1960s-even the term ‘free love’ dates back more than 200 years. Look at Shelley and his crowd-musical relationships.

      In Victorian England, there was at least as much infidelity as there is now. And in the working classes, many people didn’t marry. A Child of the Jago is based upon a real district of London in the 1870s, well known to the writer. The women in the street in which one family live think for a long time that Mrs Perrott must be a snob because she and her husband are legally married.

      Nancy and her partner Bill are obviously not married in Oliver Twist-a book also based upon real life,

      Reply
      • I let people assume I was married in the seventies because it simplified things. Then I got married. It didn’t change the fundamental relationship at all.

        Then early this century I started a new relationship and lived de facto (with two families involved) without caring about whether anyone thought we were married or not. It simply didn’t matter.

        A couple of years later I got married again. That was personal choice and was a good occasion, but made absolutely no difference to relationship or family.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  30th May 2016

          What made you decide to get married both times Pete, if it didn’t change the fundamental relationship?

          Reply
          • While PG is thinking on that Kitty, I also believe its not what you have possessions and wealth-wise, its what you do with it. If you decide to have children, then you must accept the responsibility to see them through to maturity, one way or another. If you have unplanned children, then blame yourself for not observing the rules of safe sex and accept the child wholeheartedly as a gift from heaven and then get yourself fixed so no more accidents. Rules for living 101 revisited!

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th May 2016

              That’s a councel of perfection, alas. Has it ever happened as a universal rule ?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th May 2016

              Counsel.

              Donald Trump is hardly a model of marital perfection-three wives so far and who knows how many girlfriends ?

            • Gezza

               /  30th May 2016

              Well at least he marries some of them Kitty.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th May 2016

              Two of the three so far have been immigrants, despite his anti-immigrant stand, and he’s an immigrant’s child. Consistency, thou art a jewel.

      • Corky

         /  30th May 2016

        But there was still the handbrake of accepted morality and public censor. Now there is no handbrake.

        “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”

        Aleister Crowley – Black ceremonial magician and libertine

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  30th May 2016

          1875-1947, so hardly modern.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  30th May 2016

            Try reading some of the c.18 writers and see if you still think that there was a handbrake on morality until recent times. Or even earlier ones like Chaucer and Wyclif.

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  31st May 2016

              “But there was still the handbrake of accepted morality and public censor. Now there is no handbrake”

            • Corky

               /  31st May 2016

              PUBLIC.

  6. Iceberg

     /  30th May 2016

    “If marriage was made compulsory it wouldn’t transform poor partners into reliable partners”

    Missing the point. The point is that benefits have enabled the production of children in an industrial scale outside of marriage. In fact outside of any serious relationship. That’s the issue. Debating whether marriage is better than de facto is a red herring.

    Allowing people to have as many children as they like on the taxpayers coin is nonsensical. The people paying the tax are forced to limit the number of kids they can afford, but beneficiaries aren’t?

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  30th May 2016

      There are a number of other factors involved frosty…like religion ,Catholicism for example.No welfare in the Philipines,but the poor are not allowed contraception by church decree.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  30th May 2016

        They’re allowed contraception here though Blazer. In fact it’s strongly recommended until you’re in a position to be able to raise any children you might have.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  30th May 2016

          I see ,so Catholics in NZ are allowed contraception.Didn’t know that.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  30th May 2016

            Oh yes, all the Catholics I know just ignore Old Redsocks on that one. Most of them have done ever since I was a Catholic & hit puberty many moons ago.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  30th May 2016

              So its a question of obeying the tenets of ones chosen religion or being a hypocrite.

            • Gezza

               /  30th May 2016

              No, it was just an easy choice of whether to try and follow the good bits of the Bible and to ignore the bits of Catholic dogma that aren’t in it.

              In countries where the Catholic Church has still got a stranglehold on education, or the government itself, the lack of use of contraception has been a real problem, I agree, but most Catholics who’ve grown up in and been educated in New Zealand, even in Catholic primary and secondary schools like me, worked out in our early teens what Christianity was apparently supposed to be about and what was just embarrassing or stupid bureaucratic Vatican bullshit that was best just ignored.

              There’s quite a lot of being part of a community involved for some Catholics, and less of the “obey every utterance” of the Pope. It’s not really hypocrisy – just common sense. You tend to get the hypocrisy more at the parish, diocese, archdiocese and Vatican end of the chain. And even then, not with all of the clergy by any means.

              I sort of abandoned christianity generally at age 15 because the whole Jesus is God+ Bible thing seemed to be shall we say highly dubious to me at best. Perhaps you haven’t read some of my posts on these sorts of issues? Shame. I put quite a bit of time and thought into some of them.

            • Nelly Smickers

               /  30th May 2016

              At Boarding School, we all had it drummed into us by the Nuns that any form of artificial birth control was a *Mortal Sin*.

              I don’t think many of the Senior girls took much notice……I even heard one once describe her Diaphragm, “as a trampoline for dickheads” XD

            • Gezza

               /  30th May 2016

              We just dealt with that issue by not participating in any artificial births Nelly.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  30th May 2016

      Fathering children without responsibility = loss of self-respect, pride and love = destroyed life.

      Reply
    • @ Iceberg – On the subject of those ghastly, deplorable, sub-human opportunist-reproducers, the Sole Parent Support (SPS) Beneficiaries, take heart from the March 2016 Quarter Statistics. SPS Bene’s are down to 66,387, a reduction of nearly 4,000 since March 2015 – in the very same year Bill English tempted them to get pregnant with a $25 a week conditional pay rise – and down around 23,000 since 2011.

      https://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/statistics/benefit/post-sep-2013/all-main-benefits/latest-quarterly-results.html

      In actual fact, the subject of this topic is, “Family First claims that a drop in marriage rates is one of the main drivers of child poverty.”

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  30th May 2016

        Isn’t this the reason Paula Bennett has been roundly abused by the Left? Good to see you giving her credit, PZ.

        Reply
        • Depends Alan, there might be 4,000 or 23,000 SPS Bene’s worse off doing casualised part-time employment and having to leave their kids with Child-care services?

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  30th May 2016

            Oh come on PZ e hoa. If any of them were tempted to get pregnant with a $25 a week conditional pay rise they’d most likely be just as tempted to get pregnant with an ice cream.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th May 2016

              Try keeping a child on that, PZ. That was neither the intention nor, I suspect, the result.

            • @ Kitty – FS!

              @ Gezza – Hope you’re being sarkey? That’s the impression I get from Iceberg (and others), that young women are tempted in droves to have children for the purpose of living off the state. That the DPB cart came before the solo-parent horse? Even Miss Kitty doesn’t think so according to her other comment …

              English’s $25 rise came with conditions: Seek work when youngest child aged 2 y.o, I think, down from 3 y.o, and child goes to day-care. State House rents went up at the same time …

              However, even with the April Fool’s Day pay rise looming all year, 4,000 SPS bene’s removed themselves from the stats. Well done them! Well done Paula Bennett if she had anything to do with it …?

              I just wonder where they went and what they’re doing? That would be helpful stats & information, don’t you reckon?

            • Gezza

               /  30th May 2016

              Oh yes PZ definitely would like to know what’s become of these people. There’s no research going in to that. I understand teenage pregnancies are now trending down though & I think that’s a good thing.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th May 2016

              I saw some girls from a local high school admiring the baby of a former classmate-genuinely admiring it. But I had a feeling that they were all thinking that they were glad that it wasn’t theirs, gorgeous as it was.

  7. PDB

     /  30th May 2016

    Marriage isn’t the problem, people lacking responsibility for their lives today is. It is no coincidence that the welfare state came into being around the start of the breakdown of the ‘traditional’ family unit.

    The decline of marriage wasn’t the catalyst for change, simply a bi-product of that change.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  30th May 2016

      the Welfare state was introduced to protect women and children.

      Reply
      • PDB

         /  30th May 2016

        Was part of the reason but no doubt a by-product of it was that it encouraged more people to offload their personal responsibilities onto the state. As welfare has increased so too has personal responsibility diminished.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  30th May 2016

          Personal responsibility has diminished because of a lack of leadership…the buck never stops anywhere these days,its always someonelses fault….look at Key and his crew as a prime example,CEO’s another.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  30th May 2016

            Yes, of course Mark Weldon would agree with you and politicians don’t have to front voters or their PM either.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  30th May 2016

              its Labours fault,you know that Al.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  30th May 2016

              It very often is, Blazer. The voters think so too.

    • Gezza

       /  30th May 2016

      The “traditional family unit” was a married mum & dad with children.

      Reply
    • @ PDB – Was this about the time women not just realised – for many had known forever – but began taking action against the then repressive institution of marriage? Or when they were suddenly required to do war work as replacement men, but only for the duration? And add a thousand other socio-economic factors …

      Or was it around the time grown-ups realised that as children some of what they learned in their parents marriages were things like dad is a neanderthal brute and mum, his chattel, is trapped in this violent repressive marriage with him?

      The development of the Welfare State and the breakdown of the ‘traditional’ family unit is not a horse-and-cart situation. It doesn’t matter which one you put before the other, especially if your objective is to place all the blame on just one component of a social milleux we are barely capable of comprehending today.

      The Welfare State was not only what actually happened – so maybe just get over it – it was exactly what was required at the time. The people elected it, after all …

      And why are we talking as though marriage breakdown, lack of responsibility and sole parenthood are new things!?

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  30th May 2016

        Because the Left talk about child poverty as though it is a new thing.

        Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  30th May 2016

        The DPB came in because of single mothers, not the other way around. The average stay is surprisingly short, or was when I last heard it. One woman who worked for WINZ said that she had never met anyone who had deliberately had a baby to go on the DPB, but that were many who knew that if one happened, the DPB was there so it wasn’t a big deal if it did.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  30th May 2016

          I am tired of the cliches about the repressive nature of marriage and the insulting word ‘chattels’ used of married women. What kind of fools does this make women who had careers or money of their own seem ? What kind of tyrants does it make men seem ?

          Why would widows who’d been left well off be daft enough to marry again ?

          At one time men were responsible for debts run up by their wives. It has always been assumed in law that a child born to Mrs Smith was Mr Smith’s and that he was financially responsible for it. Men could be legally obliged to marry girls they made pregnant. Men could go to prison for crimes committed by their wives It went both ways.

          At one time in Brittany, if a man did the even then old dodge of persuading some of his friends to say that they had also had sex with her when a paternity case went to court, the judge would make them all financially responsible. How, even then, the word didn’t get around that obliging a mate in this way wasn’t a good idea is unknown.

          Women doing men’s work in the war were doing it because the men were under a legal obligation to go and risk their lives in the armed forces. Much of the work-like making armaments-stopped when the war did, of course. And it would be a bit off if a man who’d been risking his life for 6 years came back and was told that someone else had taken his job and was going to keep it.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  30th May 2016

            Of course at war end many women were able to resume normal relationships and return to marriage and children that had been on hold. Not that it wasn’t hugely disruptive to lives and careers of everyone. And it followed the trauma of the 1930’s Great Depression so I think there was a sense of trying to be normal again that was quite stifling in its conformity until the end of the fifties and the big revolt commenced.

            Reply
          • Jeeves

             /  30th May 2016

            Excellent post Kitty- I didn’t quite know all that.

            There was a bit of a debate about the ‘wage gap’ the other month with friends… and one said “why do men still earn 5% (or whatever) more than us for doing the same job?” and a man responded thus:

            ” Four very important words miss, which are rarely far from a man’s mind….

            Women and children first

            …… there’s our 5%.”

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th May 2016

              In the c.19, single mother families and new relationships were far from uncommon. Ministering Children begins with a little girl, and the author says matter of factly that the father she lived was not her own father. In the books of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens-and others, of course-illegitimate children are quite common.

              .

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th May 2016

              There’s also the fact. Jeeves, that men do the arduous, dangerous jobs, work longer hours, don’t take time off for maternity leave…when (apart from a natural disaster which doesn’t discriminate) did you last hear of a lot of women in an office being killed in the equivalent of Pike River ?

    • Jeeves

       /  30th May 2016

      Iceberg-People within marriage have for centuries being having kids “on an industrial scale” – that’s why the benefits were created. You are putting causality arse over elbow just like Family First.
      And why can you not have as many kids as you want??
      \
      PDB- Perhaps the decline of traditional marriage coincided with the pill, and women realising they could break free from being the property of their fathers until they were married, whence they became the chattel of their husbands. You think ‘benefits’ were the driving force?
      I don’t think people in happy unions will be tempted to forsake that happiness because someone introduces a benefit…

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  30th May 2016

        There never was a time when women were the property of their fathers or chattels of their husbands, at least not in recorded history.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  30th May 2016

          were husbands allowed to have ‘their way’ without consent…ever..Kitty?

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  30th May 2016

            Were husbands ever forced to keep children who weren’t theirs, Blazer ?

            Marital rape is a complex issue and was grounds for divorce earlier than people think.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th May 2016

              I assume that that’s what you meant with your coy euphemism.

              Women were leaving husbands long before divorce was as easy to get as it is now.

            • Blazer

               /  30th May 2016

              at odds with..’.There never was a time when women were the property of their fathers or chattels of their husbands, at least not in recorded history’

  8. Brown

     /  30th May 2016

    ”Then I got married. It didn’t change the fundamental relationship at all.” And so on.

    So Pete got married, the relationship didn’t change(so he was hiding the sausage before marriage) and he got divorced. He’s got involved again and got married. It hasn’t changed the relationship at all. I hope this isn’t a pattern developing.

    The big questions are around why you got divorced?

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  30th May 2016

      That’s quite an odd post brown. Usually I can see exactly what you’re saying but that one’s got me a bit buggered to be honest.

      Reply
    • Complex issues around why I got divorced which I’m not going to reveal in public, but it was over twenty years after getting married.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  30th May 2016

        What a crude, offensive and vulgar phrase that is, Brown. You know which one I mean, I won’t repeat it. Is that used at your church when the pastor (I bet that it’s not a minister or priest) preaches about adultery ? It’s none of our business why Pete was divorced, as he’s not wanting to marry any of us-he’s not single, anyway.. My parents were divorced about 20 years after their marriage. A man I know was divorced 47 years after he married !

        Reply
  9. Gezza

     /  30th May 2016

    Such an interesting word, adultery. On the face of it, it just seems like a place you should go to if you want to find some grown-ups.

    Reply
    • Nelly Smickers

       /  30th May 2016

      Wayne was wondering if being a ‘swinger’ is the same as being an ‘adulterer’??

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  30th May 2016

        no but tell Wayne it may be the same as being….’hung’!

        Reply
        • Nelly Smickers

           /  30th May 2016

          I’ve even heard they ‘stone’ the woman in some moozie country’s as well, Blaze!!

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  30th May 2016

            Someone has told you a distorted version-if by moozie countries you mean Muslim.

            Swingers can be single, of course.It just means sleeping around, but can have the specific meaning of organised partner swapping. Why anyone would do this is beyond me.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  30th May 2016

              thanks for explaining that for Nelly,Kitty…;)

            • Gezza

               /  30th May 2016

              Why anyone would do this is beyond me.
              I was preparing quite a detailed reply to this question when I realised it probably wasn’t such a great idea to post it when I think the short answer anyway is – because they want to, Kitty.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  30th May 2016

              The more fools they if they catch something. Or meet one of their partners at a conference or somewhere else where it would be a reak embarrassment. Or are seen going into the place by a group of colleagues. Or there’s a fire and they have to run out into the street wearing nothing but a very red face and see the looks they get from everyone.

            • Gezza

               /  30th May 2016

              I was just thinking about that Kim Kardashian and how embarrassed she probably always is.

  10. Brown

     /  30th May 2016

    Pete’s experience is a bit like my own so I’m not poking fun or trying to be offensive. My experience of life is that marriage, when there are children, is much harder to walk away from than a defacto relationship. I don’t expect Pete to reveal anything because its not our business but I looked really closely at myself and my first wife when she flicked me because I wanted to understand why to avoid making the same mistakes again. In my current marriage actually getting married was a relationship changer – for the better.

    Reply
  11. Hot off the press: Parental break-ups, not unemployment, are given in a new report as the prime cause of New Zealand’s high rate of child poverty.
    The report, published today by the Family First lobby group, says the near-trebling of sole parents from 10 per cent of families with dependent children in 1976 to 28 per cent of families in the last two censuses is “the elephant in the room” in the child poverty debate.

    Child poverty has tracked sole parenting almost exactly. Children in homes earning below 60 per cent of the median household income rose from 14 per cent in 1982 to 30 per cent in 2001, then declined to 22 per cent by 2007, although they have risen again recently.

    “The correlation between sole parent and child poverty rates is stronger than between unemployment and child poverty rates,” says the report, by welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell.

    “Unemployment, low wages, high housing costs and insufficient social security benefits are consistently blamed for child poverty, yet a major culprit (if not the major culprit) is family malformation, that is, a lack of two married committed parents.”

    Sole parents are naturally poorer than couples, on average, because they have only one potential income earner who often can’t work fulltime because of the children.

    In 2014, 62 per cent of sole parents’ children lived in homes earning less than 60 per cent of the median income, compared with only 15 per cent of children in two-parent homes.

    The report links the rise of separated parents to the growing acceptance of living together outside formal marriage. Children born to legally married couples plunged from 95 per cent of births in 1961 to 51.3 per cent in 2010, before recovering in each year since then to 53.5 per cent in the latest March year.

    For Maori, children born to legally married parents collapsed even more spectacularly from 72 per cent of Maori births in 1968 to just 20.9 per cent in 2011, recovering to 21.6 per cent in the latest year.

    The report quotes Australian data showing that de-facto couples are much more likely than married couples to break up within five years, and that the five-year separation rate increased much faster for de-facto couples (from 25 per cent in the 1970s to 38 per cent in the 1990s) than for married couples (from 7 per cent to 9 per cent).

    It says another factor promoting separation was the creation of the sole parent benefit in 1974, making parents who are both unemployed better off by splitting to get two separate benefits.

    This factor was more important when unemployment was high in the 1990s, and the decline in unemployment since may help to explain the recent slight decline in sole parenting.

    However, Dr Susan St John of the Child Poverty Action Group said the report ignored the fact that marriage was not always good for women or their children.

    “Intimate partner violence is not mentioned, nor the high rate of incarceration, especially of Maori males,” she said. “The policy implications of this report, to reduce the safety net yet further and stigmatise the unwed, are extremely dangerous.”
    Gotcha!

    »

    Reply
    • Gotcha!? Gotcha who bjmarsh1? Gotcha what?

      Off the cuff, how about –

      – the erosion of wages and inflation of living costs, especially housing – removing it from the consumer price index – such that a single income can no longer support a family in many, perhaps most cases, especially a family with only one parent? This too has probably tracked child poverty and sole parenting exactly, but wage erosion is NOT a product of marriage breakup, is it? Its a product of economic policy.

      Consequently, sole parents aren’t “naturally poorer than couples” at all. The use of the word “naturally” here is disingenuous to say the least. They are poorer than couples because of long-term government economic policies … financialisation and the like … neoliberalism.

      – A whole bunch of things have probably tracked child poverty and sole parenting almost exactly, apart from marriage breakdown? The reporting of intimate partner violence as mentioned comes to mind. The growth of awareness about domestic violence. ‘Family First’ have simply put the one they want up front. Selecta cart … How about used Japanese car imports …?

      – Hindsight is a wonderful thing and so are the exigencies (or plain misuse) of the English language. Let’s look at this sentence: “It says another factor promoting separation was the creation of the sole parent benefit in 1974”. Iceberg or Corky could have written this. Of course, why didn’t I work it out, the sole parent benefit was created to promote separation!

      It looks like that now, doesn’t it, especially if you look at the reflection on the surface of the pond. But it was created primarily to ensure the safety of women and children escaping abusive and destructive relationships. It was created with the objective of making things better for the children of these relationships. The surface of the pond doesn’t look reflective at Rape Crisis centres, Women’s Refuges and CYF’s offices all over NZ every day and night.

      – “The correlation between sole parent and child poverty rates is stronger than between unemployment and child poverty rates,” says the report, by welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell. What the F*&# does this mean? There are three things here, sole parent, child poverty and unemployment. Is Lindsay Mitchell or you seriously saying these are not or can’t be inter-related … you know, like all three of them acting together. This is agenda-simpleton social science, sorry …

      I won’t say “Gotcha!” since I don’t know why you did …

      Reply
  12. Blazer

     /  30th May 2016

    Lindsay Mitchell…agenda=flawed report…=a grain of salt.

    Reply
  13. Sorry Blazer, she has much more credibility as a commentator on the subject than you will ever have. For others, Google “Lindsay Mitchell NZ” and make up your own mnds,

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  30th May 2016

      I quite like her art.But she has been bashing beneficiaries for ages.

      Reply
      • She’s also taking liberties if she calls herself a social scientist? She’s a lobbyist or spin doctor, surely?

        Reply

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