Study shows ‘shocking’ rise in overcrowding, poverty-related illnesses in sector’s children.

Asian youngsters are now more likely to suffer overcrowding and poverty-related illnesses than European children, a report has found.

The second annual Child Poverty Monitor, published by Children's Commissioner Dr Russell Wills today, shows the rate of poverty-related illnesses for Asian children has kept rising through and beyond the recent recession - in contrast to all other ethnic groups, which saw increased poverty-related illness rise in the recession but fall back since 2012.

Pacific and Maori young still have by far the highest rates of poverty-related illness, but the Maori rate dropped steeply from 58 hospital admissions for poverty-linked conditions for every 1000 kids in 2012 to 52 for every 1000 people last year.

The Asian rate has almost doubled from 21 hospital admissions for every 1000 Asian children in 2000, and 29 in 2007 before the recession started, to 40 admissions for every 1000 children last year.


The Pacific rate peaked at 91 hospital admissions for every 1000 children in 2011 and has come down only slightly to 87. The European rate has been steady throughout at between 30 and 34 admissions for every 1000 children.

The head of the Public Health Association's Asian caucus, Dr Lifeng Zhou, said the new data was "shocking". "Normally Asian health has been seen as a model," he said.

He said the figures showed that the Asian population was maturing, with fewer new migrants who were required to have good health to gain admission to the country, and more children born in New Zealand to parents who may have come here as students without financial resources.

The Asian population has roughly doubled from 238,000 in the 2001 census to 472,000 last year. Asian children increased at a slightly slower rate, from 56,000 to 97,000, while adults aged 30-plus increased at the fastest rate, from 113,000 to 242,000.

The poverty monitor shows that 28 per cent of all children in the "Asian/Other" ethnic group lived in homes earning below 60 per cent of the median household income per person in the past three years, compared with 30 per cent of both Maori and Pacific children and 15 per cent of European children.

Overcrowding rates in the last Census were also highest for children of Pacific (47 per cent), Maori (25 per cent) and Asian (21 per cent) ethnicity, compared with 5 per cent of European children.

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