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Notions of conventional family unrealistic

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/08/2016

Conventional notions of family used to create New Zealand's social policies aren't realistic for many Kiwi teens, researchers have discovered.

Just one in four 15-year-olds surveyed by University of Otago researchers, as part of the famed Dunedin longitudinal study, lived with both their parents, while just six per cent had lived in a household made up of only their parents and siblings.

The majority, nearly 60 per cent, were instead raised in single parent households or homes with multiple carers.

Few of the 209 teens involved in the survey had a consistent pattern of parental care, according to Dr Judith Sligo whose findings have been published in the New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences.

Overall they experienced up to eight changes in care arrangements over 15 years, and lived at an average of eight different addresses, she found.

The measures currently used by policymakers have not been able to capture this diversity and fluidity, she said.

"This means that policies and support intended for children, young people and their families/whanau may not match the realities of their lives," she said.

Dr Sligo wants the country's social policies to be delivered with children at the centre.


* 209 15-year-old's surveyed.

* 26 per cent lived with both biological parents at 15.

* 6 per cent lived whole lives in households made up of only parents and siblings.

* 26 per cent had same parents care arrangements their whole lives.

* 63 per cent were cared for by two parents at birth.

* 59 per cent were in sole parent or multiple-resident care by age 15.

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