18 Nov 2012

Action needed to address child poverty - US expert

10:37 am on 18 November 2012

A United States education specialist says child poverty can cause problems well into the future and should be addressed in New Zealand now.

Greg Duncan is professor of education at the University of California and says poverty in New Zealand, at 17%, is higher than the OECD average.

Poverty is defined as earning less than 60% of the median income in a country.

Professor Duncan told Radio New Zealand's Sunday Morning programme children from poor families can rise out of poverty and studies show low family income does not necessarily cause more crime or single parent families in the next generation.

However, he says they earn less and perform worse in the labour market, which will harm the economy when it depends on their work in future.

Dr Duncan, who is on a lecture tour of New Zealand, says studies show intensive early childhood education and high quality schools can overcome this problem and says this has been proven in Scandinavia.