Myth-busting rightwing prejudices - DPB mum's | The Jackal

12 May 2012

Myth-busting rightwing prejudices - DPB mum's

Please note this article is currently a work in progress.

I happened to be reading through the Fifth Annual Report of the Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee (PDF) and came across some data that was obviously wrong! Namely the graph on page 20 that makes it look like people in poor areas are having on average more children.
The proportion of babies born in the most deprived decile area in New Zealand (13.8%) is greater than the proportion in any other decile area, and the proportion of births increases fairly consistently with increasing deprivation.

At first glance this gives some weight to RWNJ's claims that people are "breeding for a benefit" and other such unsavory statements. But it 's not until you look into how the statistics are devised that you find the Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee are presenting figures that paint an incorrect picture.

The statistics are taken from the New Zealand Index of Deprivation 2006 (NZDep2006):

NZDep2006 deprivation scores apply to areas rather than individual people.
The 1 to 10 scale is ordinal not interval.

From wikipedia on statistical ordinal data:

In statistics, ordinal data is a statistical data type describing data consisting of numeric scores that exist an ordinal scale, i.e. an arbitrary numeric scale where the exact numeric quantity of a particular value has no significance beyond its ability to establish a ranking over a set of data points.

…and ordinal scales:

Rank-ordering data simply puts the data on an ordinal scale. Ordinal measurements describe order, but not relative size or degree of difference between the items measured.

There are numerous other reasons why the graph being promoted as evidence to have prejudices is wrong! For instance the Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee is effectively claiming that males aged 65 are having children. There is also the wage difference between men and women...

Women get paid on average 12.8% less than their male counterparts and a persons income dictates where they live. It stands to reason that women are more likely to be living in poorer areas opposed to men who get a higher wage. There is also a difference between the remuneration a young person receives as opposed to older people. Including males and people who cannot even have children in research that is about the amount of children being born into impoverishment is obviously incorrect.

So once you decipher the badly presented statistics and how they are devised, you find that people living in poor areas of New Zealand are having on average at least 10% fewer children than people living in more wealthy areas.

Idiot Professor - Cynthia Farquhar
Anybody with any type of real world experience already knows this. Finding, romancing and keeping a mate is obviously more difficult without money and many poor people choose not to have a family because they simply cannot afford it.

Most politicians (who are largely removed from the real world) would probably incorrectly interpret the Perinatal and Maternal Mortality Review Committee's misrepresented findings, being that a decile scale is usually divided equally and proportional to the amount of people and not mesh-block areas with no mention of the actual population living within them.

It must be difficult devising ways to misrepresent the facts to promote rightwing prejudices.