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Inequality in NZ

Statistics NZ’s latest figures show that NZ has a large gap between the richest and the poorest. The richest 10% own 60% of NZ’s wealth while the poorest 40% own just 3%. In fact, many of the poorest people owe more than they own. They have debts. Some of these people have student loans which they have not yet paid back. Mostly these are people under 24 years of age.

John Key pointed out that one of the reasons for the difference between the rich and the poor was home ownership. Those who own their own home have more wealth because house prices keep rising. However, this does not give them more money to spend until they sell the house. Those over the age of 65, on the other hand, have often paid off their home – they have no mortgage – so they do have more money to spend.

The statistics also show a big difference between ethnic groups. The wealth of European New Zealanders is three times that of Asian people living in NZ, five times that of Maori people and nine times the wealth of Pacific Island people in NZ.

The figures show that the gap between rich and poor is wider in NZ than in Australia, the UK, and Canada but when compared with the US, it is quite a small gap. In the US, the top 10% owns 75% of the country’s wealth.

The Labour Party says that inequality creates a large group of people who feel forgotten. These are the kind of people who support Donald Trump in the US and voted for Brexit in the UK.

Vocabulary

• inequality (n) – opposite of equality (stress on the first syllable)
• wealth – private money which people own themselves
• paid off a loan, pay back a loan (v phrase) – finished paying back the money they owed
• mortgage (n) – money borrowed from the bank to pay for a house
• USA or the US – they are the same

Pronunciation

• debt – rhymes with ‘set’, the ‘b’ is silent
• mortgage – the ‘t’ is silent
• It is hard to make the ‘n’ at the end of ‘own’ but it is very important to make the difference between ‘owe’ and ‘own’.

Grammar Note

3 times the wealth of, or 3 times that of … (twice the wealth of )