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Vodafone Foundation initiative crunches the data on inequality

Peter Griffin, Contributor. 18 May 2021, 8:35 am

It's a hallmark of political slogans and government policies alike - the goal of reducing the unacceptable level of inequality in our country.

But what are the key measures of inequality and how are they tracking on a regional basis around the country?

A new project from the Vodafone Foundation, the non-profit arm of the telecoms company, aims to present a new, data-driven perspective on inequality. The Thriving Rangatahi Population Explorer brings together a wide selection of government data sets collated as part of the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) that is managed by StatsNZ. The last three years of data are included.

As well as demographic statistics, there are results included from Te Kupenga, StatsNZ's survey of Maori well-being, and the General Social Survey.

Using the visualisation tools on Thriving Rangatahi, you can get a national snapshot of inequality or drill down to a particular region. For instance, Ōpōtiki District has 660 "excluded and disadvantaged young people, representing 41% of young people in the region. 

Screenshot 2021-05-17 at 5.50.49 PM.png

The Thriving Rangatahi Population Explorer.

The Thriving Rangatahi web app can also be used to generate reports on the keen social wellbeing indicators for a region, which is hoped will be a useful reference point for planners and local providers seeking to tackle inequality. 

The Vodafone Foundation, in partnership with The Centre for Social Impact, Nicholsons Consulting and Deloitte, has also published a paper analysing the data to highlight some of the key factors that influence outcomes for young people.

Five key insights include:

- Income inequality is a significant factor in exclusion and disadvantage.

- Economic policy decisions can result in long-term, unintended consequences.

- Education matters.

- Safety is critical.

- Structural inequalities underpin exclusion and disadvantage.

"We don't need to fix our young people. We need to fix the systems that view them through a deficit lens - systems which consistently exclude them from opportunities," the Vodafone Foundation notes in presenting the data. It has the aim of halving the number of young people (12 - 24) who fall into the categories of exclusion and disadvantage by 2027. Currently, the government data suggest that around 20% of young people are in those categories.

The Foundation also calls for an effort to decolonize existing data sets to "ensure the data we use to tell stories, identify patterns, and make decisions is examined for biases and takes into account principles of Māori data sovereignty."

You can apply to access the Population Explorer here.


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