The Nature of Disadvantage. Faced by Children in New Zealand: implications for policy and service provision


  • Lisa Davies
  • Andrew Webber
  • Jason Timmins



Child wellbeing, Child development, Multidimensional wellbeing


This article summarises key findings from three recent New Zealand research projects looking at how disadvantage due to a lack of resources and increased ‘toxic stress’ in the household impacts on child wellbeing and development in early childhood. About one in ten children experience substantial disadvantage relating to a lack of resources during early childhood, and for many children this lack of resources is persistent. This disadvantage is inequitably distributed across the population and is associated with worse outcomes later in childhood. The challenge for policy is to find a way to provide support that is flexible and values the choices family and whānau make to look after their children in the early years of life.


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Author Biographies

Lisa Davies

Lisa Davies is a senior policy analyst at the Social Wellbeing Agency.

Andrew Webber

Andrew Webber is chief economist at the Social Wellbeing Agency.

Jason Timmins

Jason Timmins is a principal advisor at the New Zealand Productivity Commission.