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Parents supporting children who do not live with them

Find out about the support parents give their children aged under 18 years who don’t live with them.

The New Zealand General Social Survey 2010 asked people whether they, or their partner, support children who do not live with them. This includes children they may spend time with or have to stay overnight. By including data on someone’s partner’s children we are closer to understanding the full economic impact of support across households and the reality of family life today.

The results help us understand the characteristics of people who give support and the types of support they give. We have focused on children aged under 18 years because they are of particular interest to policy makers, due to their dependency, and potential for positive outcomes with the right policies in place.

How many parents don’t live with their children?

In 2010/11, 1.50 million adults or their partner (44 percent of the population aged 15 years and over) had children aged under 18 years. Of these 1.50 million parents, 1.28 million (85 percent) lived with all their children and 225,000 (15 percent) had either some or none of their children living with them.

How do parents support children who don’t live with them?

Of the 225,000 parents who had at least one child who did not live with them, 196,000 (87 percent) said they gave some form of support. The most common type of support was providing clothing (49 percent), followed by child support payments (46 percent).

Graph, Support given to children aged under 18  years who live outside the household, by support type, April 2010 to March 2011. 

Of those 196,000 who provided support, 61 percent provided support to one child. A quarter (26 percent) supported two children, nine percent supported three children, and the remaining four percent supported four or more children.

Of this same 196,000, 22 percent reported providing one type of support. Eleven percent provided eight or more different types of support. Roughly equal numbers of the remaining 67 percent provided between two and seven types of support to their children.

These figures do not take into account how many children in a family may be living outside the household. For example, someone may support two children under 18 years of age, but they may have three children under 18 not living with them. The figures also do not identify whether this support is given when the child is living outside the household, or when he or she visits or stays with the support provider.

See the table in 'Available files' above for more results.

See New Zealand General Social Survey for details about the 2008 and 2010 surveys, and other reports and releases, available at

Printable version 

You can download or print this page and the table from 'Available files' above. If you have problems viewing the files, see Opening files and PDFs.

Published: 2 March 2012

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