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Association of material hardship with maternal and child outcomes report released
21 November 2018
Association of material hardship with maternal and child outcomes report released
This report provides a better understanding of the extent to which poverty (material hardship) is associated with child and maternal outcomes and the potential pathways of its influence.
 
Although poverty is associated with an increased likelihood of negative outcomes, little is known about the magnitude of the association between specific outcomes and which developmental and life-course pathways are most influences by poverty.
 
The majority of studies in this area use low income as the measure of poverty while this study uses material hardship, reflecting how families are actually living.
 
Results show a strong association between material hardship and poor child and maternal outcomes. Up to 14 percent of New Zealand children are exposed to material hardship.
 
Maternal mental health, child socio-emotional development indicators, living in poor housing conditions, and the number of child respiratory illnesses are all associated with material hardship. These results are in line with international research.
 
Key Findings
  • Children experiencing high levels of material hardship were around 3 times more likely to have a high level of negative emotional reactions and twice as likely to have high levels of respiratory conditions/ear infections compared with children not in material hardship. As the level of material hardship increased, children were more likely to experience higher levels of negative emotional reactions.
  • Mothers experiencing high levels of material hardship were around 5 times more likely to have moderate to severe anxiety compared with mothers with no material hardship.
  • Similarly, mothers experiencing high levels of material hardship were 4 times more likely to have a moderate/high probability of depression compared with mothers with no material hardship. As the level of material hardship increased, the likelihood of poor maternal mental health increased significantly.
  • Mothers and children experiencing high levels of material hardship were approximately 3 times more likely to be living in a damp house and twice as likely to be living in a crowded household compared with mothers and children with no material hardship. As the level of material hardship increased, the likelihood of living in damp housing increased significantly.
 
This study is a first step in developing a better understanding of how material hardship influences child and maternal outcomes. It also provides a baseline and framework for future analyses.
 
The research used data from the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study. Crown funding for the study is managed by the Ministry of Social Development.
 
To download the report go here