Trends in Youth Activity in New Zealand from 1985-2004

This report was produced as a New Zealand Department of Labour Research Paper.

Limited information is currently available on youth activity in New Zealand.

This paper uses data primarily from the Household Economic Survey (HES) to provide a comprehensive picture of the activities undertaken by New Zealand youth during this transition to adulthood from 1985 to 2004. It presents evidence on both labour market and education activities and the intersection of the two. It also places these results in context by comparing the findings for New Zealand to similar evidence for Australia.

There has been steady growth in study rates throughout the sample period. The fraction of youth only employed increases steadily with age before levelling-off at age 24 for individuals born after 1969 and at age 18 for older cohorts, while the fraction only studying declines steadily with age, but at a slower rate for each successive cohort. The fraction both employed and studying has increased with each successive cohort, but declines with age after age 16 or 17 within cohorts.

Business cycles appear to have little impact on the fraction only employed or only studying, but have larger effects on the fraction employed and studying and, in particular, on inactivity.