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Radical change or more of the same? Public attitudes towards social citizenship in New Zealand since neoliberal reform.


Neoliberal reforms are often assumed to have significantly affected public opinion towards the social rights of citizenship, as reflected in attitudes towards economic protectionism and the welfare state. This is because the transformation of Keynesian-welfarist institutions during the 1980s and 1990s is said to have fundamentally challenged Marshall's (1950) conception of universal social rights as guaranteeing citizens a basic level of economic and social welfare. In particular, the more market-based and coercive model of citizenship now promoted is thought to have altered the expectations citizens hold of one another and the state and to have threatened the traditional notions of equality and solidarity which formed the basis of support for welfarist institutions (see Brook 1998; Shaver 2004).

This paper tests these assumptions in the New Zealand context for the first time. It is not an unproblematic task, for such theoretical arguments implicitly assume that political reforms alter public attitudes not vice versa (Stimson 1999). New Zealand's shift to Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) representation after overwhelming public support for change in a 1993 referendum, however, suggests that the public attitudes can influence reform (Karp & Bowler 2001). In addition, New Zealand's commitment to Keynesianism was not only incomplete but the neoliberal reform period brought important gains for the welfare state, most notably opportunities for culturally-specific social services for Maori (Humpage & Craig 2008): Finally, international empirical evidence suggests that concerns about the negative effect on public attitudes may be over-stated (e.g. Svallfors & Taylor-Gooby 1999; Wilensky 2002).

There is still value, however, in drawing together public opinion data over the past two decades to assess, first whether there is any correlation between changes in New Zealand public attitudes and neoliberal reforms and second, whether attitudes are as mixed and ambiguous as those documented in another 'liberal welfare state', Australia. There Pusey & Turnbull's (2005) analysis of the 2003 Australian Survey of Social Attitudes (AuSSA) found that citizens continued to hold many of the values supporting the Australian settlement--such as government ownership of major services and utilities, award wages, protected trade--while also adjusting to newer, neoliberal arrangements regarding free markets and trade. Social rights of citizenship also remained important, with the AuSSA 2005 indicating that a growing number of respondents believed income differences were too large, a clear majority favoured increased spending on health, education and welfare benefits and almost 40% wanted greater redistribution (Wilson & Meagher 2007). At the same time, however, the morally conservative discourses used to promote welfare reform were reflected in increasing and majority support for extending the work-related obligations of welfare recipients, even if such support remained conditional on economic circumstances (Eardley et al. 2000; Wilson & Meagher 2007).

There are two main reasons why New Zealand's public attitudes might be expected to be less ambiguous than those documented in Australia. First, while both countries emerged as 'wage-earners' welfare states' in the post-war period (Castles 1996), New Zealand's infamously hard-line approach saw neoliberal reforms made at greater speed and, at least in the early-to-mid-1990s, of greater significance than Australia. The two countries have come closer together over time in terms of economic reforms (see Vis 2007), but in 2004 New Zealand ranked third equal on a range of indicators regarding 'economic freedom' (many of which are associated with neoliberal policies), while Australia ranked eleventh (Gwartney & Lawson 2006). Despite a stronger neo-conservative focus on 'welfare dependency' and 'personal responsibility', Australia also maintained more generous social programmes (Ramia & Wailes 2006). Second, there is evidence that New Zealanders were less accepting of reform than Australians, due to its speed and lesser governmental interest in invoking public approval to legitimise change (see Vowles & Aimer 1993; Kelly 2006). The overwhelming vote for MMP demonstrated public disapproval with government decision-making and a desire for an electoral system more responsive to public opinion (see Karp & Bowler 2001). But New Zealanders still demonstrate lower levels of voter turnout and higher public distrust in government than Australians (Vowles 2004; McAllister & Clark 2007). Such factors are elsewhere linked with weakening support for publicly-funded welfare (Steinmo 1994).

To assess whether New Zealand's experience of neoliberal reform led its citizens to make a clearer shift away from supporting economic protectionism and the welfare state than seen in Australia, the paper draws on the few regular data sources available: the New Zealand Election Study (NZES--Vowles et al. 1990; 1993; 1996; 1999; 2002; 2005), New Zealand Values Study (NZVS-Gold & Webster 1989; Perry & Webster 1993; 1999; Perry p.c) and the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP 1997; 2000), as well as the one-off 1987 New Zealand Attitudes and Values Survey (NZAVS) commissioned by the Royal Commission on Social Policy (RCSP 1988). In addition to the widely-documented limitations of public opinion polling (see Stimson 1999; Goot & Rowse 2007), it is important to note three specific caveats: data comparability is sometimes compromised due to slight differences in questions asked and this is indicated when discussing different sets of results; a lack of data prior to the late 1980s hinders longitudinal observations; and inconsistent data regarding age, education, ethnicity and gender require public attitudes to be discussed generally, without reference to possible variances within different subgroups of the New Zealand population. Aggregate scores can also blur a polarisation in views between those who may have lost or gained from the neoliberal reforms undertaken. Together these factors may contribute to any ambiguity found in New Zealand public opinion.

The available data is nonetheless sufficient to begin mapping neoliberal reform's impact on public understandings of social citizenship in New Zealand. Given the importance of arbitrated minimum employment conditions and industry protections to the New Zealand 'wage-earners' welfare state', the paper starts with a brief discussion of attitudes towards economic protectionism before considering three more traditional areas of the welfare state: tax and redistribution; health and education; and targeted social assistance. In each of these four areas, Keynesian-type policies aiming to achieve a basic level of economic and social welfare were significantly challenged by neoliberal reforms. Changed support for government responsibility and spending in these areas thus gives insight into public attitudes regarding 'social citizenship'. A full comparison with Australia is not attempted but each section ends with a brief summary of key similarities and differences between the two countries to set the New Zealand experience within a broader context. The paper concludes that significant changes in public attitudes are evident but it is difficult to claim a paradigmatic shift has taken place, not least because fluctuations in public opinion can often be linked to changes in the economic and political context.

Economic Protectionism

Like Australia, New Zealand had a long history of centralised award bargaining that contributed to work being framed as a social right. From the 1930s governments also actively attempted to ensure decent work through other forms of what might be loosely called 'economic protectionism', including agricultural subsidies and import controls (Roper 2008). Rapid financial and trade deregulation from 1984 saw New Zealand go from being one of the most to one of the least protected economies in the world, while the labour market was transformed by the 1991 Employment Contracts Act. This offered employers greater flexibility but reduced employee security at a time of high unemployment and benefit cuts (Ramia & Wailes 2006).

As one might expect, Table 1 highlights that support for economic protectionism remained significant in all areas but wage control. When offered a list of policies that 'might help solve New Zealand's economic problems', slightly more people supported import controls in 2005 than in 1990. While the changed wording of the question might explain the recent rise, support for import controls in some form remained quite steady and significant, never dropping below 42%.

A similar fall then rise in support was also evident in regards to trade unions being necessary to protect workers (with majority support across the entire period) and wages being controlled by legislation. The particularly low support (14%) for wage controls in 2002 could be an outlier or reflect public debate about the replacement of the Employment Contracts Act with legislation less restrictive of unionism in 2001 (Ramia & Wailes 2006). Collectively, however, the results suggest that by the 2000s New Zealanders were supportive of, or at least had their attitudes shifted by, the Labour-led government's attempt to modify some of the harsher aspects of economic liberalism from 1999.

In contrast, the number of respondents agreeing that big business is too powerful continued to decline across the entire period. Supplementary data suggests that in the early 1990s disgruntlement with big business may have reflected resistance to foreign ownership of business, rather than business in general (see Heylen 1988; Vowles et al. 1995). Although this resistance is likely to have waned as multi-national companies became commonplace in New Zealand, the Labour-led government's 2008 decision to protect the country's 'strategic assets', in the wake of purported public antipathy to a Canadian bid to buy a significant share of Auckland airport, suggests these concerns may still be prevelant (see Gaynor 2008).

In summary, New Zealand public opinion is as mixed as that in Australia regarding the economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s. By 2005, a small majority of New Zealanders still favoured import controls (54%) and considered trade unions necessary to protect workers (58 %), while half (49%) still thought big business too powerful. This latter figure was significantly lower than in Australia, where 60% of respondents agreed with this statement in 2003 (Pusey & Turnbull 2005). Significantly, 79% of Australians in 2005 also agreed that award wages are the best way to pay workers/set conditions (van Wanrooy 2007), while only 19% of New Zealanders believed wages should be legislatively controlled in 2005. Differences in the questions asked in the two countries may explain divergences here. However, alongside the other findings, they suggest that New Zealand's sweeping and rapid industrial relations reforms from 1991 diminished the view that work is a social right to be protected by wage controls, despite significant continuing support for import controls and unionism. In contrast, there was increased support for award wages between 2003 and 2005 in Australia, foretelling the considerable public resistance to the Australian WorkChoices reforms introduced in 2006 (see Van Wanrooy 2007).

Tax and Redistribution

Alongside economic protectionism, the post-war welfare state's focus on material equality favoured progressive taxation and redistributive policies that shifted income from the wealthy to the poor. Conceptualising individuals as self-interested, rational actors and inequality as the result of poor choices, neoliberal theory instead promotes reductions in personal and business taxes over redistributive policies. These ideas framed major tax reforms in the 1980s, making the New Zealand tax system one of the flattest and simplest in the developed world (Roper 2008). In addition, redistributive policies were pared back with benefit cuts in 1990 and 1991 and greater targeting of social assistance, which now aimed to encourage self-reliance and personal responsibility, rather than economic equality. With no significant tax reform from 1996, the political right promoted tax cuts as an important election issue but, despite a booming economy, Labour-led governments offered only a renewed, if limited, focus on redistribution from 1999 (Roper 2008).

Given these circumstances, one might expect a clear shift in public opinion away from high levels of support for redistribution towards a greater preference for tax cuts. Table 2 illustrates that, indeed, the number of respondents supporting tax cuts grew from 36% in 1993 to 69% in 2005. Evidence cited in Crothers (1988) suggests that tax cuts were a low priority before the mid-1990s, so the 33 percentage point increase in support for reduced tax suggests an embedding of neoliberal concerns around tax and personal responsibility. However. in 1999 60% of ISSP (2000) respondents still supported progressive taxation and it was not until 2002 that a clear majority of NZES respondents favoured tax cuts (even then 30% were happy with the status quo). This suggests a relatively rapid shift in political 'mood' (see Stimson 1999) under Labour, whose lack of a tax-cutting agenda failed to address 'bracket creep', where inflation pushes salaries/wages into a higher tax bracket. This became a major point of distinction with the political opposition, perhaps explaining this surge in support for reduced tax.

Given increasing support for tax cuts, it is not surprising that Table 3 shows diminishing support between 1993 and 2005 (from 49% to 29%) for greater redistribution of income and wealth in favour of ordinary people by taxing rich people more heavily. As the numbers supporting greater redistribution fell, those who agreed that rich people should be able to keep most of their income and wealth for themselves because their taxes are too high increased and by 2005 slightly more respondents were against redistribution (36%) than for it (29%). But it is notable that only half (49%) supported greater redistribution even in 1993, perhaps indicating weak support historically. A significant number (between 21% and 36%) also offered neutral responses, suggesting they accepted the status quo, particularly in the 2000s when unemployment was low and more redistributive policies (like Working for Families) had been implemented by the Labour-led government (Humpage & Craig 2008).

It is nonetheless clear there has been a significant shift away from supporting greater redistribution, even during the 1990s when there was high unemployment and much media coverage about poverty and inequality. Indeed, supplementary data showing a decrease (from 68% in 1984 to 60% in 1999) in the number of people agreeing that New Zealand was an unequal society, even while actual income inequality increased rapidly (see Crothers 1988; ISSP 2000; Ministry of Social Development--MSD 2007). It is difficult to ascertain whether growing tolerance of inequality was influenced by the neoliberal rhetoric concerned with self-reliance and welfare dependency in the 1990s or whether the public genuinely believed equality had improved as the economy regained its strength. But that almost a third of ISSP (2000) respondents (30%) in 1999 also believed large differences in income were necessary for New Zealand's prosperity suggests that neoliberal discourses did have an impact.

These findings indicate some significant differences between New Zealand and Australian public opinion. While support for reduced taxes steadily increased in New Zealand to 69% in 2005, support in Australia decreased steadily from the mid-1990s to 28% in 2003, with a slight rise to 34% in 2005 (Wilson & Meagher 2007). These differences may result from the different framing of the question (Australian respondents were asked to choose between reduced taxes and social spending), but are also likely to reflect the fact that New Zealanders did not benefit from the extensive tax cuts offered to Australians.

Furthermore, while the number of people agreeing that New Zealand was an unequal society decreased during the 1990s, the number of Australians believing incomes differences in Australia were too large grew from 62% in 1984 to 84% in 2003 (Pusey & Turnbull 2005). Again question differences might compromise this data, but such a trend might explain why support for redistribution is also higher in Australia. 44% of AuSSA 2005 respondents supported redistribution (Wilson & Meagher 2007), while only 29% of NZES 2005 respondents felt the same. The question in Australia did not refer to taxing the rich but support for redistribution is declining in both countries; while it is possible younger respondents are less certain about what this question means, in the New Zealand case it certainly seems to represent a real change in attitudes given a growing intolerance to inequality, even though income inequality grew more rapidly in the 1980s and 1990s and remains higher in New Zealand than in Australia (MSD 2007). This might signal a paradigm shift if not for the significant ongoing support for other aspects of the welfare state reported below and the importance of economic context in explaining fluctuations in these attitudes.

Health and Education

Aiming to achieve equality of opportunity while ensuring the steady supply of healthy, well-educated workers needed for a productive economy, the post-war welfare state promoted universal and free health and education systems. Despite this rhetoric, neither New Zealand nor Australia had universal health care during the post-war period and, indeed, New Zealand never achieved this goal. Rather, neoliberal reform saw the New Zealand health system transformed along commercial lines with radical decentralisation and 'user pays' introduced for all but the neediest in primary health care. Education also experienced decentralisation and marketisation, particularly at the tertiary level where user charges and student loans became the norm from the early 1990s (Roper 2008).

With the costs of health and education increasingly framed as an individual responsibility, we might expect fewer New Zealanders to regard them as social rights that government should ensure. However, Table 4 shows continuing and significant public support for increased government spending on health, even when respondents were aware of the tax cost. Indeed, the same number of people wanted increased spending on health in 1989 as in 2005. Significant fluctuations in intervening years may be due to the prevailing economic conditions, although when unweighted NZVS data from 1998 and 2004 is excluded the trend looks steadier. The number favouring less spending was negligible (around 1%) in most years. Table 4 also indicates that significantly fewer respondents agreed that government should be responsible for ensuring 'free health care for all' than supported increased health spending. Yet a clear majority (66%) favoured free health in 2005 after more than a decade of neoliberal 'user pays' rhetoric and reality, suggesting the failure of New Zealand governments to meet public expectations in this area.

As with health, Table 5 shows most respondents (at least 64%) strongly supported increased spending on education, even if it might require a tax increase to pay for it, over the entire sixteen-year period presented. Support appears to have peaked at 90% in 1998 but there is evidence to suggest that the NZVS data is less reliable than the longer-established and more regular NZES, which records the highest level of support as 83%. The number favouring less spending in education remained negligible (1% since 1993) but support for 'free education from preschool to tertiary' dropped from 81% in 1990 to 70% by 2005 (Vowles & Aimer 1993).

In summary, support for increased spending suggests that New Zealanders continued to regard health and education as a government responsibility and, although fewer people saw free access to health or education as either possible or advisable, a substantial majority still supported this idea in 2005. While largely following the trends evident in Australia, levels of support for education and health spending were significantly higher in New Zealand. In 2003 only 69% of AuSSA respondents were willing to pay more tax for health and Medicare, compared to 86% of New Zealanders in 2002 wanting increased spending regardless of the tax cost. Similarly, only 63% of Australians supported spending more on primary and secondary schools in 2003 (Wilson et al. 2005), while the year before 81% of New Zealanders supported increased expenditure on education. Question differences may again have affected these results but greater support for increased spending in New Zealand is also likely to reflect this country's more rapid and market-driven reforms which saw significant cuts in social spending generosity, particularly in health (see Roper 2008).

Targeted Social Assistance

While strong support for universal aspects of the welfare state remains, New Zealand has long favoured targeted, selective social programmes. As in Australia, the elderly and the sick and disabled have usually been considered more deserving than sole parents and the unemployed (Humpage & Craig 2008). Consistent data is available only regarding government's responsibility for the elderly and the unemployed and Table 6 clearly shows a clear favouring of the former over the latter across time.

However, although support for ensuring the unemployed receive a decent standard of living fluctuated over the 15-year period, it remained significant (never dropping below 56%) and was actually higher in the mid-1990s and 2005 than in 1990. Indeed, the NZAVS 1987 found, asking a slightly different question, that 68% of respondents supported decent living standards for the unemployed, suggesting that support returned to a 'normal' (and high) level after brief dips in 1990 and 2002.

This comes as a surprise because there was a major policy shift away from government responsibility for ensuring decent work through job creation schemes and subsidies from the late 1980s towards work-activation programmes which increasingly framed joblessness as the personal responsibility of the unemployed person (Humpage & Craig 2008). It does not appear that the welfare dependency rhetoric that accompanied these changes in the 1990s had much effect on the public, whose support diminished both at a time when unemployment was very high and benefit cuts were made (1990) and a time of low employment and modest welfare expansion (2002). Perhaps both scenarios equate with lesser sympathy for public spending on the unemployed.

Contextual influences are more clear-cut in Table 7, which concerns government spending on the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB), established in 1973 to support sole parents caring for children. Although only a minority of New Zealanders have ever supported increased spending on the DPB if it might mean a rise in taxes, support grew (if only marginally) between 1989 and 2004, peaking at 24% in 1993. There was also significant support (between 39% and 48% across the fifteen-year period) for spending to remain the same. This is the case even though DPB beneficiaries were a key target of the welfare dependency rhetoric accompanying the welfare reforms of the early to mid-1990s when DPB numbers were at their peak. This group were also subject to work-planning activity, requirements between 1997 and 2002 (Humpage & Craig 2008). The three-way question asked is not subtle enough to determine whether support reflected a desire to assist sole parents or their dependent children more specifically. But solid support for retaining existing spending and a surge of support for increased spending in 1993 suggests that welfare dependency rhetoric did not stop New Zealanders from becoming increasingly concerned with the social impacts of neoliberal reform during the 1990s, especially upon families and children.

Table 8, in contrast, appears to provide the clearest evidence of a change in attitudes regarding social citizenship rights. It shows that the number of New Zealanders who agreed government should be responsible for providing jobs dropped significantly from 86% in 1987 to 60% in 2005. However, the question asked in 1987 was slightly different than in other years and the same percentage of people (60%) supported this statement in 1990 as in 2005. Fluctuations across the remaining years (between 54% in 1997 and 65% in 1999) probably reflect changing economic circumstances and are fairly mild, suggesting a steadier pattern of support than a first glance might predict. Certainly, Table 7 shows that support for spending on job assistance and training for the unemployed (even if it might mean more tax) was highest in 1993, when unemployment rates skyrocketed. Table 6 shows this was the same year that New Zealanders offered their strongest support for government ensuring a decent standard of living for the unemployed.

That around two-thirds of respondents by 2004/05 still regarded government as responsible for providing the unemployed with jobs, a decent standard of living and job training/assistance further suggests that the neoliberal framing of unemployment as a personal responsibility was not fully adopted. It is important to note, however, that although NZAVS 1987 data indicates large majorities saw the causes of unemployment to be structural prior to neoliberal welfare reform, over two-thirds (63%) thought some unemployed people 'don't try hard enough to get jobs'. In 1989 over a third (38%) of NZVS respondents also saw laziness as the main reason for need, which suggests that a significant minority of New Zealanders have long blamed individuals for their circumstances. The focus on individual behaviours rather than structural factors grew, with a 22 percentage point increase (to 60%) in respondents believing need is caused by laziness or lack of willpower between 1989 and 2004. This suggests that Labour's abolition of the Community Wage programme in 2001, but continuing (if less aggressive) emphasis on work activity-testing, did little to reduce the stigma of welfare in the 21st century. Yet, once again, significant fluctuations in attitudes indicate that more people believe need is caused by laziness at times when unemployment is low and fewer believe this when unemployment is high.

Furthermore, increased acceptance that poverty is due to personal behaviours did not lead to a corresponding increase in support for people taking greater responsibility for themselves. NZVS 1993 data show that 40% of respondents thought people should take more responsibility. This dropped to 33% in 1998 before rising to 37% in 2004, perhaps as a result of redistributive and social regulation policies introduced following the 1999 election. Thus, only four percentage point fewer respondents wanted more personal responsibility in 2004 than eleven years earlier. NZES data does indicate that support for 'the unemployed should have to work for their benefits' increased from 68% in 1999, a year after New Zealand's Community Wage was introduced, to 72% in 2002 (a year after this programme was abolished) and by 2005 had decreased to 70%. Yet, the NZVS 2004 telephone survey found that 43% of respondents were happy with the current balance between government and personal responsibility (Rose et al. 2005). Together there results suggest that many people supported the idea of personal responsibility but either felt that the reforms already sufficiently encouraged individual responsibility or that making the unemployed work for their benefits did not necessarily equate with personal responsibility.

By the mid-2000s, then, New Zealanders expressed mixed attitudes towards targeted social assistance, just as their Australian counterparts did. The majority of AuSSA 2005 respondents did not support cutting welfare benefits and, as in New Zealand, support for work obligations for welfare recipients remained conditional on economic conditions. Yet, most (73%) favoured increasing the level of work obligations (Wilson & Meagher 2007) and since the mid-1990s growing numbers have regarded unemployment as voluntary. It appears that in both countries citizens may apportion blame for unemployment but retain some sympathy with unemployed people, seeing a role for government in helping them find work and providing an income while they are looking for a job (see Eardley et al. 2000).


Some significant changes in public attitudes are evident in New Zealand since the implementation of neoliberal reforms but this paper argues that these are too mixed to represent a paradigmatic shift in thinking around social citizenship rights. By the mid-2000s, New Zealanders increasingly supported or accepted many of the deregulatory reforms which transformed the New Zealand economy during the late 1980s and 1990s, but the majority still saw unions as playing an important role in protecting workers and believed big business to be too powerful. Support for redistribution had diminished and tax cuts were gaining favour rapidly, but there also remained a strong desire for increased spending in health and education. Support for groups considered less deserving, including sole parents and the unemployed, was weaker but spending on the DPB and unemployment training and assistance gained favour during the early 1990s. Increased support for the idea that need and poverty emerge from individual laziness was also offset by resistance to government's desire to encourage greater personal responsibility.

These mixed findings challenge expectations that neoliberal reform would radically shift public opinion and support Wilensky's (2002) claim that attitudes towards welfare are remarkably fixed over time, although less so for targeted social assistance than for pensions, health and education. Moreover, that attitudes towards many aspects of social citizenship have fluctuated according to the economic or political context suggests the New Zealand public has not adopted neoliberal ideology with the same fervour as their political leaders and business elites. A swing to the right is discernible in some areas, but the data suggest that, despite weakening confidence in politicians, the majority of New Zealanders see a significant role for government intervention, albeit they seem to favour this more in social policy areas (such as health and education) than in the economy (Vowles & Aimer 1993).

With the data available it is not possible to determine whether the ambivalent results presented reflect a polarisation of opinion between the different individuals and categories of New Zealanders surveyed at different times or between those benefitting and suffering from the reform process. But the data do support various international studies (e.g. Dean with Melrose 1999; Goot and Rowse 2007) that find contradictions in public opinion are not necessarily the result of 'illogical' thinking but rather demonstrate how 'the public' draw upon conflicting sets of traditions and moral repertoires when thinking about political issues. These mixed repertoires perhaps reflect the tensions between neoliberal theory, which decries welfare dependency, and political reality, which has seen politicians loathe to complete dismantle the welfare state due to its role in legitimising governments and capitalism more broadly (Hartman 2005).

In conclusion, the high level of ambiguity highlighted in this paper suggests that the speed and extent of New Zealand's reform and the lack of confidence New Zealanders exhibit in the political process do not appear to have set the country on a completely unique path. The comparison with Australia indicates that specific policy and historical settings have some influence on public opinion but changes to New Zealand attitudes towards social citizenship have, by and large, been in line with patterns established in Australia.


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Table 1: Support for economic protectionism, per cent *

 1990 1993 1996

Increase import controls ** 51 46 42
n= 1879 1996 3951
Big business is too powerful 70 70 64
n= 2027 2219 4026
Control wages by legislation 30 24 19
n= 1869 2251 4007
Unions necessary to protect workers 66 70 67
n= 1893 2050 4031

 1999 2002 2005

Increase import controls ** 49 42 54
n= 2363 4625 3648
Big business is too powerful 63 51 49
n= 1982 4639 3668
Control wages by legislation 19 14 19
n= 5548 4105 3743
Unions necessary to protect workers 56 58 65
n= 2393 4667 3774

* All data is unweighted data and recalculated from a 5-point scale as
a proportion of 100% (0-100). ** In 1990 and 1993 respondents were
asked about increasing import controls, in 1996 about their 'support'
for them and 1999-2005 about the introduction of import controls.

SOURCES: NZES 1990, 1993. 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005.

Table 2: Reduce taxes, per cent

 1993 1996 1999 2002 2005

Agree 36 49 * 44 * 51 * 69 *
Disagree 28 * 20 * 27 * 19 * 10 *
Neither ** 31 * 27 * 25 * 30 * 21 *
n= 1938 3950 2350 4629 3669

* Unweighted data. ** Includes 'indifferent' or 'neutral' and
don't know.

SOURCES: NZES 1993, 1996, 2002, 2005.

Table 3: Government should redistribute income and
wealth from rich to ordinary people, per cent *

 1,993 1996 1999 2002 2005

Agree 49 48 44 32 29
Neutral 21 21 22 36 26
Disagree 19 26 29 33 36
Don't know 11 5 5 0 9
n= 1939 4050 1961 4621 3654

All data is unweighted data and recalculated as a proportion of
100% (0-100). The original 7-point scale asked 'government should
redistribute income and wealth in favour of ordinary people by
taxing rich people more heavily than they are now' (1) and rich
people should be able to keep most of their income and wealth
for themselves and their taxes are too high now' (7).

SOURCES: NZES 1993,1996,1999, 2002, 2005.

Table 4: Government spending on health, per cent

 1989 1990 1993 1996 1997

Increase spending on health 82 70 79 85 * 85
n= 1000 1865 2040 4387 1206
Govt should provide
 freehealth care ** ** 75 69 **
n= 2013 3999

 1998 1999 2002 2004 2005

Increase spending on health 92 * 82 86 92 * 82 *
n= 1201 1959 4710 954 3685
Govt should provide
 freehealth care ** 65 64 ** 66 *
n= 4925 4147 1272 3655

* Unweighted data. ** No data is available for these year.

SOURCES: ISSP 1997; NZES 1990, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005; NZVS
1989, 1998, 2004 (postal survey, cited in Perry, p.c).

Table 5: Government spending on education, per cent

 1989 1990 1993 1996 1997
Increase 78 64 75 80 83
Decrease 5 2 1 1 1
Same 15 32 22 18 17
n= 1000 1865 2016 4356 1206

 1998 1999 2002 2004 2005
Increase 90 * 76 * 81 * 87 73
Decrease 1 * 1 * 1 * 1 1
Same 9 * 22 * 18 * 12 25 *
n= 1201 1946 4688 1272 3658

* Unweighted data.

SOURCES: ISSP 1997; NZES 1993, 1999. 2002: NZVS 1989, 1998, 2004
(telephone survey cited in Rose et, al. 2005).

Table 6: Agree government's responsibility to provide and ensure
decent living standards for the ... , per cent

 1990 1993 1996 1999 2002 2005

Elderly 94 93 94 * 93 * 93 * 96 *
n= 1895 2049 4068 2401 4688 3690
Unemployed 58 70 * 67 67 * 56 * 61
n= 1873 2025 4017 1967 4632 3644

* Unweighted data.

SOURCES: NZES 1990, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005.

Table 7: Government spending on the Domestic Purposes
Benefit, per cent

 1989 1993 1998 2004

Increase 13 24 18 * 17 *
Keep same 39 45 48 * 46 *
Decrease 45 27 30 * 37 *
n= 1000 1249 1156 890

* Unweighted data.

SOURCES: NZVS 1989, 1993,1998; 2004 (postal survey,
cited in Perry p.c).

Table 8: Agree government ..., per cent

 1987 1989 1990 1993 1996 1997

Has a 86 ** 60 51 57 * 54
responsibility to
provide a job
for everyone
who wants one
n= 1524 1880 2020 4669 1206
Should increase ** 61 ** 74 ** **
spending on
job training/
n= 1000 1249

 1998 1999 2002 2004 2005

Has a ** 65 * 59 * ** 60 *
responsibility to
provide a job
for everyone
who wants one
n= 1957 4625 3633
Should increase 63 * ** ** 57 * **
spending on
job training/
n= 1169 912

* Unweighted data. ** Data unavailable for these years.

SOURCES: ISSP 1997; NZAVS Survey 1987; NZES 1990, 1993, 1996,
2002, 2005; NZVS 1989, 1993, 1998, 2004 (postal survey, cited
in Perry p.c.)
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Author:Humpage, Louise
Publication:Australian Journal of Social Issues
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Dec 22, 2008
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