Understanding New Zealand 3: Who Voted Labour In 2020?

Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party comprehensively won the 2020 General Election, drawing 50.0% of the party votes (1,443,546), up from 36.9% (956,184) in 2017. This allowed the Sixth Labour Government to continue governing alone, and without needing help from either the Greens or New Zealand First. This shift towards Labour is the main story of the 2020 General Election.

The main reason for it was the large number of white New Zealanders who shifted loyalty from National to Labour between 2017 and 2020.

The fact is that New Zealand is a majority white country (around 70% of New Zealanders are white according to 2018 Census data). So there only have to be small changes in average sentiment among white people to have major electoral effects. Winning back a large number of white voters from National was chiefly how Labour won a Parliamentary majority.

The numbers show a major change in sentiments towards Labour among white people. In 2017, the correlation between voting Labour that year and being of European descent was -0.65. By 2020, the correlation between voting Labour and being of European descent was 0.11. This is an enormous change, and it’s the primary reason for Labour’s comprehensive win at the 2020 General Election.

What it means is that the average white person, despite their relative wealth, supported the Labour Party in 2020. This wasn’t close to being true in 2017.

In fact, so many white people voted for Labour in 2020 that there was no longer any significant positive correlation between voting Labour that year and being either Maori or a Pacific Islander. Both of these correlations were very strong in 2017, but had faded away by 2020 owing to the fact that the Labour voting demographic was much whiter that year.

The people who switched allegiance to Labour in 2020 were primarily the highly-educated ones who strongly supported National in 2017.

The correlations between voting Labour in 2017 and having any university degree were all negative and either significant or bordering on it. The correlation between voting Labour in 2017 and having a doctorate was -0.17, but by the time of the 2020 General Election, this had flipped to a positive correlation of 0.17. Holders of other degrees also became notably more Labour-friendly, although less drastically than those with doctorates.

Meanwhile, the correlation between voting Labour and having no qualifications weakened, from 0.38 in 2017 to an almost neutral 0.06 in 2020. This underlines the extent to which the new Labour supporters in 2020 were primarily from the middle class.

Those who shifted to Labour in 2020 weren’t just educated, they were also old.

In 2017, there was a correlation of -0.70 between being aged 50-64 and voting Labour, and a correlation of -0.61 between being aged 65+ and voting Labour. The reason for this was easy to explain at the time: old people overwhelmingly prefer conservative parties, a general rule across the entire democratic world.

They didn’t in 2020. Although the correlations between being old and voting National in 2020 are much stronger than the correlations between being old and voting Labour, the correlations between being aged 80-84 years old or 85+ years old and voting Labour in 2020 were both significantly positive, an enormous swing from 2017.

Expressed in rough terms, very few old people voted Labour in 2017, but in 2020 about half of them did. This may be because old people were particularly impressed by Jacinda Ardern’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which threatened to kill many of them, or because they’re concerned about the kind of New Zealand that the National Party would create for their descendants.

Commensurate with increased support for Labour among highly-educated people was increased support among high-skill occupations. Although there was a negative correlation of -0.14 between voting Labour in 2017 and working as a professional, by 2020 this had flipped to 0.10. A thaw in sentiments was also observed among managers. The correlation between working as a manager in 2017 and voting Labour was -0.69, but by 2020 it was only -0.42.

Another notable change from 2017 is that there is no longer a significant positive correlation between voting for Labour and working as a machinery operator or driver. This correlation was 0.54 in 2017, but a mere 0.06 by 2020. A similar, but smaller, pattern is observable with labourers and with community and personal service workers.

This shows that Labour expanded from its base to the centre ground between 2017 and 2020. Over these three years, Labour reduced its reliance on traditional working-class occupations, and increased its appeal to high-skill ones.

Labour also reduced its traditional reliance on poor voters.

In 2017, the correlation between voting Labour and having an income between $5,000 and $10,000 was 0.58. This is strong enough to show that Labour got many of their votes from there. By 2020, the correlation between being in this income bracket and voting Labour had become negative. This was because Labour shifted from the party of the poor to the party of the everyman.

In 2017, the correlation between voting Labour and being in any income bracket above $60,000 was significantly negative. However, in 2020, the correlation between earning over $70,000 and voting Labour was negative, but not significant. Much of this could be explained by wealthy people starting to feel that Labour had no real appetite for raising taxes.

Indeed, the correlation between voting Labour and median personal income became much less strongly negative between 2017, when it was -0.52, and 2020, when it was -0.27. So although wealthy people still avoid Labour, they do so much less eagerly than they did in 2017.

Labour’s resurgence might have been pronounced along lines of race, age, education, and occupational skill level, but it was not particularly pronounced along any industry lines.

Generally speaking, the demographic of Labour Party voters became a lot closer to the demographic of everyday New Zealanders between 2017 and 2020. This was apparent from the fact that most correlations between voting Labour and working in a particular industry became weaker as Labour expanded from its working-class base.

Most striking was the correlation between voting Labour and working in transport, postal and warehousing, which crashed from 0.54 in 2017 to -0.01 in 2020. Other industries went in the opposite direction. The correlation between voting Labour and working in rental, hiring and real estate services went from -0.58 in 2017 to -0.38 in 2020.

Wholesale trade, retail trade, manufacturing, public administration and safety, professional and technical services, and agriculture, forestry and fishing all moved towards no correlation with voting Labour from 2017 to 2020. This reflects the broad-based increase in appeal achieved by Labour over the past three years.

One notable exception was the correlation between working in healthcare and social assistance and voting Labour. In 2017 this was not significant, at 0.14. By 2020 it had leapt up to 0.44, and was the strongest correlation between working in any industry and voting Labour. It may be that this workers in this industry, more than any other, anticipate a lot of help from the Sixth Labour Government in its second term.

Labour also drastically reduced their reliance on unemployment and invalid’s beneficiaries. In 2017, the correlation between being on the unemployment benefit and voting Labour was 0.73 – by 2020 it was -0.09. This is partly because a great many non-unemployment beneficiaries switched to Labour, but it’s also because of strong support among unemployment beneficiaries for the New Zealand First, Maori, Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis, ONE, Vision NZ and Advance NZ parties.

The correlation between being on the invalid’s benefit and voting Labour in 2020 was significantly positive, at 0.28. This was much weaker than in 2017, when it was 0.58. As with the unemployment benefit, this reflects how Labour broadened their appeal beyond beneficiaries.

Perhaps the most striking change involved pensioners. There was a correlation of -0.51 between being on a pension and voting Labour in 2017. By 2020, this had flipped to a positive correlation of 0.22. The fact that Labour did much better among old people in 2020 has been discussed above. Along with the coronavirus response, the introduction and then doubling of a winter energy payment to pensioners no doubt helped Labour here.

There was still a significant negative correlation between being self-employed or owning one’s own business and voting Labour, but at -0.26 this was much weaker than most people would have guessed. The correlation between being self-employed and voting Labour in 2017 was -0.77.

That the average Labour voter is much whiter and better-educated in 2020 than in 2017 can be seen from the change in correlations between voting for Labour and voting for other parties.

For one thing, there were significant positive correlations between voting Labour in 2020 and either voting Greens in 2020 (0.29) or voting for The Opportunities Party in 2020 (0.33). These are much stronger than the correlations between voting Labour in 2017 and either voting Greens in 2017 (0.14) or voting for TOP in 2017 (0.00). Greens and TOP voters are disproportionately white and well-educated, two groups that heavily switched to Labour in 2020.

For another thing, there are now significant negative correlations between voting Labour in 2020 and voting for most of the Maori-heavy parties. Although Labour won a great number of votes from old white people, they lost a smaller number of Maori voters to fringe parties. Losing such marginal voters to fringe parties is the inevitable blowback from Ardern’s drive to the centre.

A further noticable change is the correlation between voting Labour in 2017 and voting National in 2017 (-0.94) and the correlation between voting Labour in 2020 and voting National in 2020 (-0.16).

This is a profound difference, and tells the story of a major shift in the demographics of the average Labour voter. In 2017, Labour and National were sharply opposed along lines of wealth, ethnicity, age and education. By 2020, most of those distinctions were eroded. National was still the party for rich old people, but Labour had transformed from the party of the disenfranchised, the brown and the working-class to the party of the average Kiwi.

A final point is that the Labour Party won a lot of male voters from National over the past three years. The correlation between voting Labour in 2017 and being male was -0.33. By 2020, this had fallen to -0.15. This suggests that Labour did well in 2020 not only because they demonstrated compassion since 2017 but also because they demonstrated competency.

In summary, Labour won the 2020 General Election by broadening their appeal to the average New Zealander. Increased support for Labour from 2017 was especially noticeable among rich people, white people, old people and the well-educated, all of who are traditionally antipathetic to social democratic parties.

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This article is an excerpt from the upcoming 3rd Edition of Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan and published by VJM Publishing. Understanding New Zealand is the comprehensive guide to the demographics and voting patterns of the New Zealand people.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2019 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 and the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 are also available.

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Understanding New Zealand 3: Cannabis Referendum Voters

Calculating the correlations between demographic variables and referendum choice was made difficult by the Electoral Commission’s decision to put the ballots from different electorates into the same box on Election Day. At every polling booth, the referendum ballots for both General and Maori Electorates were put in the same box, and as such we can’t accurately account for how many people in each electorate voted in favour.

The special referendum votes were broken down by electorate, but the total number of such votes was less than 20% of the number of ordinary referendum votes, and so they are not particularly representative of the New Zealand population as a whole. They also don’t overcome the problem that the Maori population is split between the General Roll and the Maori Roll, and so no meaningful correlations between referendum choice and ethnicity can be calculated.

Despite these limitations, we can see the data accurately enough to notice some clear patterns. Five significant trends are apparent.

In short, the major opposition to cannabis law reform in New Zealand is the same people who oppose it everywhere else: old, poorly-educated, religious, antisocial conservatives, i.e. those who fall for fear-based propaganda the hardest and who act to harm other people the most readily.

All of the age groups 34 years old or younger were significantly positively correlated with a will to reform the cannabis laws. This was true both for the ordinary referendum votes and the special ones. The correlation between being aged 20-24 and casting a special vote for Yes in the cannabis referendum was 0.66. Many of these voters would have been young people who enrolled to vote on Election Day.

All of the age groups 45 years old or above were negatively correlated with a will to reform the cannabis laws. As above, this was true both for the ordinary referendum votes and the special ones, although the correlations were only significant in the case of special votes. With the special votes, every age group 45 years old or above was significantly negatively correlated with voting Yes in the cannabis referendum.

Most strikingly, all of the age groups 55 years old or older had negative correlations stronger than -0.50 with casting a special vote for Yes in the cannabis referendum.

The pattern is unmistakable, and easy to explain. Old people who have been brainwashed for decades with Reefer Madness-style anti-cannabis propaganda are generally against it. Young people who have real-world experience with cannabis and who have observed its effects in their friends and/or parents are generally in favour of it.

Another trend is immediately apparent when we look at the correlations between voting Yes in the cannabis referendum and maximum educational achievement. The better educated a person is, the more likely they are to support cannabis law reform.

Belonging to any one of three most poorly-educated groups of people in the country was significantly negatively correlated with voting Yes in the cannabis referendum. By contrast, having any university degree was significantly positively correlated with voting Yes. The strongest correlation was between doctorate degree holders and casting an ordinary vote for Yes – this was 0.56.

The one anomaly in the data – the significant positive correlation between having level 3 NZQA as a highest qualification and voting Yes in the cannabis referendum – can be easily explained. These people are mostly intelligent young people who are at university but are yet to get a degree. So they’re mostly intelligent enough to understand the science of cannabis, but not old enough to have a degree yet.

The reason for the strong correlation between education and pro-cannabis sentiments is fairly obvious. Understanding the effects of cannabis is essentially a scientific enterprise. Those educated enough to understand science understand that cannabis is medicinal. Those not educated enough to understand science have to rely on what they’re told, which is usually by people not educated enough to understand the science.

Education is, at the end of the day, little more than a mental toolbox for determining truth from bullshit. An educated person will be equipped to appraise data and to decide for themselves what is true and what isn’t.

Those unequipped to make such determinations are forced to rely on dictates from authority figures, such as the television or the local priest. Doing so is extremely inaccurate, and is often completely misleading. Those who put themselves forwards as authority figures, and those who are presented as authority figures by the media, are often people with a vested interest in telling lies.

Unfortunately, the cannabis referendum was a national IQ test, and we failed it.

Many people fail to appreciate the extent to which hating cannabis users is a religious, particularly an Abrahamic, attitude. It was largely Christians who enforced cannabis prohibition in the first place, and it’s largely Christians who argue to continue enforcing it. As such, a significant majority of people who voted No in the cannabis referendum were Christian.

The truth is that cannabis is a spiritual sacrament, and has been used as such for thousands of years. Throughout all time and space, Christians have always sought to destroy all other religious and spiritual traditions, and they have destroyed spiritual practices based around cannabis use in the same way they destroyed spiritual practices based around psilocybin mushroom use.

Christians can’t burn spiritual freethinkers at the stake anymore, but they can still vote for them to be persecuted. And they do, in great numbers. The fact that Christianity is an ideology of hatred is seldom more evident than in the strong negative correlations between being Christian and voting Yes in the cannabis referendum. A correlation of -0.53 between being Christian and casting an ordinary vote for Yes in the cannabis referendum lays bare what many already knew: Christians hate cannabis users.

Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims were generally indifferent to the question of cannabis law reform. This reflects the fact that there are two opposing forces at play in these cultures: the conservative, control-based mentality and the liberal, experience-based mentality. Many voters in these groups, being relatively recent immigrants, are caught between two worlds, unsure of what to accept and what to reject.

Spiritualists and New Agers were the big losers from the referendum result. New Age religion is very fond of cannabis on account of that it facilitates meditation. Spiritualists also like cannabis for the same reason that Rastafarians do: they believe that it enables them to reconnect with God. This explains the strong positive correlation of 0.58 between following Spiritualism or New Age religions and casting an ordinary vote for Yes in the cannabis referendum.

The significant positive correlations between being Jewish and voting Yes in the cannabis referendum are no doubt because of the higher educational attainment of Jews, i.e. most of them voted Yes because they understand the science behind cannabis.

The fourth apparent trend in the data is that occupations and industries with a lot of human contact tended to vote Yes in the cannabis referendum, while occupations and industries without much human contact tended to vote No.

This mostly reflects differences in empathy. People in social occupations tend to be more open, more closely attuned to other people’s suffering and more sympathetic towards the measures those people take to reduce it. They are also much more likely to support recreational drug use in general, and much less likely to support government measures to interfere in other people’s lives.

There were significant positive correlations between voting Yes in the cannabis referendum and being a professional (0.51) or being a community and personal service worker (0.35). This reflects the fact that people in these occupations are intelligent and empathetic. In the case of professionals, it also reflects a superior reasoning ability.

There were significant negative correlations between voting Yes in the cannabis referendum and being a machinery operator or driver (-0.42) or being a technician or trades worker (-0.33). This might reveal a working-class social conservatism, but more likely follows from the fact that these occupations cannot be performed safely while stoned, and so people in them are concerned about the person next to them being under the influence of cannabis while working.

These correlations, between choice of unsocial occupations and voting No in the cannabis referendum, were replicated with choice of industry.

People in social industries heavily supported cannabis law reform, and this was also true of people in creative industries.

There was a significant positive correlation between casting an ordinary vote for Yes in the cannabis referendum and working in Arts and Recreation Services (0.60), Accommodation and Food Services (0.47), Information Media and Telecommunications (0.47), Public Administration and Safety (0.46), Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (0.37) or Education and Training (0.29).

People in industries that are (generally speaking) neither social nor creative heavily opposed cannabis law reform.

There were significant negative correlations between casting an ordinary vote for Yes in the cannabis referendum and working in Manufacturing (-0.58), Wholesale Trade (-0.56), Transport, Postal and Warehousing (-0.42), Construction (-0.38) or Retail Trade (-0.25).

The major distinction here is not obvious, but it is striking, and perhaps summarises the entire cannabis law reform debate: voters working in industries that are focused on people supported cannabis law reform, while voters working in industries that are focused on things generally opposed cannabis law reform.

The fifth apparent trend in the data involves the strong positive correlations between voting for progressive parties and voting Yes in the cannabis referendum, and the strong negative correlations between voting for conservative parties and voting Yes.

Unsurprisingly, voting for any of the parties that campaigned specifically for cannabis law reform had the strongest correlations with voting Yes on the cannabis referendum. Casting an ordinary vote for Yes in the cannabis referendum had a correlation of 0.85 with voting for the Greens in 2020, and 0.74 with voting for The Opportunities Party in 2020. The correlations with casting a special vote for Yes and voting for these parties were only slightly weaker.

Cannabis law reform supporters will be invigorated by the fact that the correlation between voting Labour in 2020 and casting an ordinary vote for Yes in the cannabis referendum was significantly positive, at 0.36. This suggests that a significant majority of Labour supporters want legal cannabis and so Labour, if they take the will of those supporters into account, should change the law.

National and the New Conservative Party, who explicitly campaigned against cannabis law reform, had the least cannabis-friendly voters. The correlation between voting Yes in the cannabis referendum and voting National in 2020 was -0.50, and with voting New Conservative in 2020 it was -0.46. To a large extent, this reflects the fact that those voters are old, and in the case of New Conservative voters it also reflects a lack of education.

Many will be surprised by the significant negative correlations between voting ACT in 2020 and voting Yes in the cannabis referendum. David Seymour wrote about his support for cannabis law reform in Own Your Future, and openly stated before the referendum that he was voting Yes. ACT is also associated with libertarian urban types who are generally favourable towards drug use of all kinds. So understanding why their voters oppose cannabis law reform is not straightforward.

The reason is that many of the people who voted ACT in 2020 voted National in 2017, and are still conservatives at heart. They voted ACT in 2020 mostly to protest the National Party leadership of the time, and are not really libertarians. This is supported by the fact that ACT voters were much, much older in 2020 than they were in 2017.

The weak correlations between voting for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party and voting Yes in the cannabis referendum will also surprise many.

First it has to be understood here that ALCP voters are very few in number, and represent the top 1% most fanatical about cannabis in the entire country. Second, many of these cannabis fanatics were unhappy with the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill because they either felt that it didn’t go far enough, or because they didn’t want the cannabis industry to become commercialised. So many of them cast No votes despite supporting cannabis law reform in general.

Their reasons might sound paradoxical, but nothing about the cannabis debate has been rational from the beginning.

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This article is an excerpt from the upcoming 3rd Edition of Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan and published by VJM Publishing. Understanding New Zealand is the comprehensive guide to the demographics and voting patterns of the New Zealand people.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2019 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 and the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 are also available.

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How Long Until Chinese Wages Surpass Kiwi Wages?

Most Kiwis take it for granted that they are much wealthier than the average Chinese. China is a place where people shit in the street, eat dogs and live in houses made of bamboo and polystyrene. The fact, however, is that China has made immense economic progress over the past 20 years, and if they continue at this rate they will soon catch up to New Zealand.

Most people vaguely understand that China has become richer recently. But most don’t appreciate how far this process has run. The general assumption is that China is no longer Africa poor, but is now Brazil poor. The reality is that the average Chinese is now wealthier than the average Argentinian and is getting wealthier fast.

Chinese wages have increased tenfold over the last 20 years. In 2000, the average Chinese wage was CNY9,371/year. By 2019, the average Chinese wage was CNY 93,383/year, which works out to $(NZD)20,910. The Chinese are well into the middle-income stage of development and are closing in fast on the rich world.

The average New Zealand wage is $33.37 per hour, and the average Kiwi works 1,762 hours per year. This gives an average Kiwi wage of $58,798. This means that Kiwi wages are, for now, 181% higher than Chinese ones. But the rate of increase of Chinese wages is much higher than that of Kiwi wages. Chinese wages will soon catch up.

As mentioned above, the average Chinese wage has increased from CNY9,371 in 2000 to CNY93,383 today, an increase of 997%. This is equivalent to a 12.2% increase every year since 2000, and means that Chinese wages double every six years or so.

The average Kiwi wage has increased from $17.50 in 2000 to $33.37 today, an increase of 91%. This is equivalent to a 3.3% increase every year since 2000. As this column has previously shown, this represents a drastic loss in living standards on account of that house prices have risen much faster than wages. But it’s set to get worse.

There is no guarantee that those rates of growth will maintain, but it’s apparent that the Law of Diminishing Returns has worked to increase Chinese wages much faster than Kiwi wages. Assuming that something like those rates of growth maintain, then it won’t be long before the average Chinese wage surpasses the average Kiwi one.

If we assume that Chinese wages increase at 10% hereafter, and Kiwi wages increase at 3% (the high growth model), then it will take no more than 16 years before Chinese wages are higher than Kiwi ones. At this point, both Chinese and Kiwi wages should be around $95,000.

If we assume that Chinese wages increase at 8% hereafter, and Kiwi wages increase at 2.5% (the medium growth model), then it will take around 20 years before Chinese wages are higher than Kiwi ones.

If we assume that Chinese wages increase at 6% hereafter, and Kiwi wages increase at 2% (the low growth model), then it will take around 27 years before Chinese wages are higher than Kiwi ones.

In any case, the maths suggest that it won’t be much more than one generation before the average wage-earner will earn more, in absolute terms, in China than in New Zealand. The average person reading this article should live to see a world in which Chinese wages are higher than New Zealand wages.

What that means for New Zealand is anyone’s guess. The real tricky questions will be faced by naturalised Chinese New Zealanders whose parents left China when there were much better opportunities in New Zealand. Some of those people might sit down, do the maths, and decide that there are now much better opportunities in China.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2019 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 and the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 are also available.

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How Absolutely Fucked Young Kiwis Are

Everyone knows that the housing situation is bad, but few realise exactly how bad it is. Politicians only propose tinkering around the edges; no-one is willing to propose fundamental change. However, as this article will show, the situation is bad enough that only fundamental change can fix it.

Statistics nerds were overjoyed by the release of the updated Parliamentary profiles last month. These profiles contained information from the 2018 Census, allowing us to update our knowledge of each electorate.

One important thing the Parliamentary profiles tell us is how wealthy each electorate is. We know that 648,537 people out of 3,776,355 aged over 15 in the General Electorates and 66,126 people out of 597,498 aged over 15 in the Maori Electorates make over $70,000 a year. This equals 714,663 people out of 4,373,853, or slightly more than 16%.

Being in the top 16% means that anyone making $70,000 a year is creaming it in comparison to the average Kiwi worker. They’re getting paid much better, and will likely have a commensurately harder job. Either they’re working much longer hours than average, or they have a job with a greater than average level of responsibility, or they are applying much greater than average human or industrial levels of capital.

However, even on this top 16% income, it’s all but impossible to own a house.

If you earn $70,000 a year in New Zealand, you will pay about $15,000 in taxes. That will leave you with $55,000 a year – assuming you opt out of KiwiSaver, otherwise you’d be down to $52,000 a year. That isn’t a lot of money once the high cost of living is factored in.

The cost of living in New Zealand can be estimated by the New Zealand Government’s own cost of living calculator. New Zealand isn’t a cheap country to live in. It can be seen from using the calculator that the average Auckland family of two adults and two dependent children has living expenses of around $2,000 a week.

This means that one working adult in the top 16% of Kiwi wage-earners only makes half of what they need to keep the average family running. If that sounds paradoxical, that’s an indicator of how fucked young people in New Zealand are now.

If we change the calculations to two working adults, each earning a wage in the top 16%, things become a bit easier. But even with two working adults both earning such a wage, it’s extremely difficult for a family with two children to save any money. According to the cost of living calculator, a family of two parents and two children can expect that their living expenses will be in the neighbourhood of $2,000 a week.

This means that a family with two parents and two children, where both parents are in the top 16% of wage-earners, saves no money on a weekly basis. All that work is just to stand still. The family will never own its own home, not even with two adults working and only two children. And that is even if both adults are earning in the top 16% of wages.

Now let’s consider a family with a special talent for living frugally. Let’s say both adults have unusually high levels of determination, willpower and resourcefulness, and they are capable of making do with considerably less than the average family of two children.

In this case, we can take the cost of living calculator and reduce the expenses to the lowest 25% or so of all families of four. This involves taking the sliders and setting them halfway between the average expenditure and the absolute minimum required to survive.

This gives us expenses of $200 per week for food and alcohol, $30 for clothing and footwear, $360 for housing and household utilities, $38 for household contents and services, $13 for health, $121 on transport, $22 on communication, $62 for recreation and culture, $25 for education, $81 for miscellaneous spending and $124 for other expenditure.

This gives us a total of $1,080 per week in expenses for a family of four. So our husband and wife duo of professional workers, both in the top 16% of Kiwi wage earners, if they cut their family expenses down to the bottom 25%, can expect to save around $950 a week, or close to $50,000 a year.

The average house price in New Zealand as of July this year was $739,000. So if a family can manage to have two breadwinners both earning in the top 16% of all wages, and if they can manage to cut their expenses down to the lowest 25% of all families of four, they can expect to own the average house after 14.8 years.

Let’s say, more realistically, that the partner of the main breadwinner works part-time in order to look after the two children, and so makes $30,000 a year. This would leave them $400 a week after expenses, or around $20,000 a year. At such a rate of saving they could expect to own their own home after 37 years.

Let’s say, even more realistically, that their expenses are at the average level for a family of four in Auckland. In such an instance, they will be unable to save money even if both parents are working and earning in the top 16% of wage earners. According to the cost of living calculator, a family of four in such circumstances will have to borrow $50 a week to be able to live. Saving will be impossible.

And that’s for people in the top 16% of earners.

Even if a person and their partner are in the top 16% of earners, they will have to cut their expenses down to less than average merely to save any money at all. They will have to cut those expenses to far less than average to save enough to own a home. Anyone earning less than this, or anyone whose expenses are higher than this, will never own a home, not even if they worked to age 100.

Simply put, you have to earn far, far more than average if you want to own your own home in New Zealand. The dream of home ownership is now only a reality for a fraction of the population. The rest of us are effectively serfs, doomed to labour our whole lives without ever owning land.

To compare this with how the previous generations had it, in 1992 the average New Zealand house price was $105,000. Also in 1992, the average wage was $15. So in 1992, the average house could be purchased for the equivalent of 7,000 hours of labour. Today, with an average house price of $739,000 and an average wage of $34, buying the average house requires the equivalent of over 21,000 hours of labour.

There simply aren’t enough years in one lifetime for the average Kiwi to save enough money to own their own house. Either you inherit, or, failing that, become a professional worker with an income of $150,000+ per year.

Another way of looking at it is that if house prices had only increased in proportion to the increase in the average wage between 1992 and 2020, i.e. 2.25 times instead of 7 times, the average house price today would be around $236,000.

The grim reality is that we are some two-thirds poorer than our parents were. This conclusion is inescapable unless one denies the maths.

In summary, the Millennials and the younger generations have been effectively enslaved by the Boomer generation. The Boomers own everything, and they pay such pitiful wages that we have no chance of bettering our positions. Only two outcomes can give the young of New Zealand basic dignity: wait 30 years for the Boomers to die, or revolution.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2019 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 and the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 are also available.

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