Families are more diverse and fluid than in the past. It is difficult to neatly capture the variety of family structures and care arrangements we have in New Zealand. And these complexities are not well catered for by the current welfare system.

Single- and two-parent households

Single parent families are more likely to face economic and other disadvantages.

Around two thirds of two-parent households with dependent children are dual-earner families, up from one in two in the early 1980s.

Age diversity

While women who give birth at younger ages are a diverse group, they tend to be more likely than older mothers to come from backgrounds of educational disadvantage and to be sole parents.

Cultural diversity

Māori, Pasifika and Asian children are more likely to be in families with shared living arrangements, including extended family members.

Māori and Pasifika couples with young children are more likely than average to face economic challenges.

99% of Māori see their whānau in whakapapa terms. 40% see their whānau as immediate relatives. Whānau are more likely to live in multi-generational households and to provide unpaid childcare or care for someone who is ill.


Where at least one partner is in full-time employment:

  • 45% have both partners employed full-time
  • 22% have one partner full-time, one part-time
  • 33% have one full time, one not employed.

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