Understanding New Zealand: Demographics of European New Zealanders

Possibly the single most striking characteristic of the demographic bloc of Kiwis of European descent is that they are considerably older than average. The correlation between being of European descent and median age was 0.72.

Predictably, then, there is a very strong positive correlation with being of European descent and being on the pension – this was 0.65.

This raises the interesting point that, for all the rhetoric about lazy Maoris sucking unemployment benefits out of the country, there are legions of wealthy white Kiwis getting paid much more than an unemployment benefit in the form of a pension, which is not means tested.

Aside from this, the trends show the general pattern of industriousness among Kiwis of European descent. The sorts of industry that demands a committed and sustained physical effort tends to be stacked with them. The correlation between being of European descent and working in construction was 0.38; with working in agriculture, forestry and fishing it was 0.37; and with mining it was 0.25.

Like the average Maori, the average European New Zealander is born in New Zealand. The correlation between being of European descent and being born in New Zealand is 0.33.

European New Zealanders are also markedly likely to delay reproduction. The correlation between being of European descent and being in a couple without children is a very strong 0.81. This reflects the degree to which Kiwis of European descent have a tendency to live for a number of years together as a couple before committing to having children.

Some might predict, based on that, that the correlation between being of European descent and being a solo parent would be significantly negative. It turns out to be a strongly negative -0.68.

Kiwis of European descent were much more likely than average to be former tobacco smokers. The correlation between the two was a very strong 0.74. This is strong enough to suggest that it is a common cultural experience among Kiwis of European descent to have struggled with tobacco addiction and to have successfully overcome it.

European New Zealanders were the only racial group that had a significant positive correlation with biking to work – this was 0.38. This correlation may not reflect so much the culture of European New Zealanders as the fact that Christchurch is an extremely bicycle-friendly city and is also very European, whereas the opposite is true of Auckland.

They also had a moderately strong positive correlation with working from home, which was 0.58. All of the other races had negative correlations with working from home, which probably reflects the fact that the vast majority of Kiwi farmers and people living in isolated areas are of European descent.

Perhaps fitting the stereotype that white people are never desperately poor, there is an extremely strong negative correlation between being of European descent and being in the income band of Loss or Nil Income, which was -0.84.

There were two separate income bands which had a significant positive correlation with being of European descent.

The first was the $15-25K income band. The correlation between being of European descent and having an income between $15-20K was 0.29, and with having an income between $20-25K it was 0.34.

Probably the reason for this is the large number of young Kiwis of European descent who become students, because a person on a student allowance or loan and maybe working part time will be in this income range.

The second was the $60-100K income band. This is about where people expect the average Kiwi of European descent to end up. The correlation between being of European descent and having an income between $60-70K was 0.32, and with having an income between $70-100K it was 0.29.

Being strongly represented in these high income bands reflects that the average Kiwi of European descent is a bit older and a bit better educated than the average and will therefore have significant career advantages in both seniority and expertise.

Given that, it is not surprising that there is a strong positive correlation between being a manager and being of European descent – this was 0.54. The other occupation that had the strongest positive correlation with being of European descent was technicians and trade workers, which was 0.33.

The strongest negative correlation between being of European descent and working as a particular occupation was with the Maori-dominated machinery operators and drivers, which was -0.31.

There was also a moderately strong correlation of 0.51 with being of European descent and living on the South Island.

Kiwis of European descent are very likely to either own their own homes or to live with their parents still. There was a negative correlation with being of European descent and every band of rent paid, apart from the $150-199 per week student niche, which was 0.01.

Perhaps interestingly, there were no significant correlations between being of European descent and having any of the higher degrees. The closest was with having a doctorate, which was 0.22.

This reflects how the bulk of the population in New Zealand is Kiwis of European descent and subsequently they comprise most of the middle between the high-achieving Asians and the low-achieving Maoris and Pacific Islanders.

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This article is an excerpt from Understanding New Zealand by Dan McGlashan, due to be published by VJM Publishing this winter.

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