Social attitudes towards the New Zealand superannuation scheme : a manifestation of normative intergenerational justice : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Sociology at Massey University, Palmerston North

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Massey University
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The purpose of the current study is to investigate New Zealanders’ social attitudes towards the economic support for the aged provided by the New Zealand Superannuation Scheme. The structure and nature of those social attitudes is revealed. The study examines social attitude responses to determine if intergenerational justice plays any role in the nature of support for the aged. One thousand and eighty-three participants were selected from the electoral roll and all were sent a survey pack followed by two subsequent reminders. Five hundred and nineteen people agreed to participate. The hypothesis is that New Zealanders agree that economic support for the aged should be provided through the Superannuation Scheme, but that the nature of this support varies according to demographic characteristics and individual perceptions of intergenerational justice. The survey results found that respondents support the economic provision for the aged in the current Superannuation Scheme. However, they are less prepared to support those mechanisms that maintain the Superannuation Scheme and they consider intergenerational transferability of the Superannuation Scheme as important. A generational difference was found in the survey among younger respondents, those forty-one and below, with regard to need taking precedence for supporting the aged, concerning ideas about assessing the economic circumstances of the aged and ideas about the balance of ‘advantages and disadvantages’ distributed to different generations. Older generations, those respondents aged forty-two and above, supported the social democratic form of the Superannuation Scheme. They believed that entitlement to returns was more important than need and they opposed economic assessments for the receipt of the Superannuation Benefit. However, older generations did not believe that differences in the balance of ‘advantages and disadvantages’ between generations have occurred in New Zealand. The survey results indicate that New Zealand is unique compared with other developed countries in that there is little predictor value or correlation value for most of the demographic characteristics pertaining to welfare attitudes towards the economic support of the aged. Meanwhile, generation and household income have some predictor and correlation value in relation to welfare attitudes towards the New Zealand Superannuation Scheme. Finally, the Superannuation Scheme exists in a momentary formal state. It may be the non-transferability of this Scheme between generations that poses a threat to the economic support of the aged, given that the number of people in New Zealand reaching sixty-five is set to increase dramatically.
Older people, Economic support, Welfare attitudes