Growing Up Introduces a New Generation of New Zealanders

25 November 2010, 3:10PM

In-depth insights into the newest generation of New Zealanders are revealed today in a study which will follow more than 7,000 children for the next 21 years.

The ante-natal findings are the first from The University of Auckland-led Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study and show immediate challenges for policy-makers.

The large number and diverse ethnicity of children in the study means the findings reflect New Zealand as a whole.

The research shows this new generation of New Zealander entering a social environment more ethnically diverse and multi-lingual. The findings highlight deprivation, family mobility and evolving family structures.
The initial data also provides a glimpse of the children’s lives before birth with unplanned pregnancies accounting for 40 percent of births and 90 percent of all mothers-to-be to changing their diet with the news that they were pregnant.

Other findings elucidate the current prevalence of smoking and drinking during pregnancy. Findings such as a lack of awareness about Working for Families tax credits amongst mothers in poorer areas suggest that policies targeting inequality are not reaching those most in need.

Growing Up Director Dr Susan Morton says “this is the most exciting study in New Zealand today. It reaches right into the lives of the country’s newest generation with this first data introducing us to their parents and the families they have since been born into.

“The information collected to-date clearly paints a picture of a changing New Zealand and poses challenges for the country’s decision-makers - this is the real value of Growing Up in New Zealand. And I can promise you the insights these children and families have generously given to us all, will only increase over time.”

The Growing Up in New Zealand study is designed to gather high quality information about the lives of children growing up here and aims to help improve educational success, health and wellbeing and social connectedness for future generations.

The study has been five years in the development, planning, recruitment, interviews and analysis with parent interviews when the children are nine months old continuing throughout 2010 and some two year interviews underway.

To-date the study has cost $20 million with an average cost of $5 million per year. The next results will be released in late 2011.

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