New Zealand benefits to the tune of nearly $8 for every $1 vested in the Graeme Dingle Foundation, in the form of reduced crime, young people getting better jobs and fewer young people becoming dependent on benefits.
That is the finding of economic consultancy Infometrics, in a new study to calculate the contribution of the foundation’s work to the NZ economy.
The Graeme Dingle Foundation is a child and youth charity that, from its inception in 1995, has focused on positive outcomes from its child and youth development programmes.
The foundation commissioned Infometrics to update its previous report from 2009, which examined the benefits to the New Zealand economy derived from young people engaging in four of the foundation’s child and youth programmes, targeting five to 18-year-olds.
Based on 2017 data when 24,122 young people were enrolled in the programmes, Infometrics has concluded: ‘the overall benefit to cost ratio of the foundation’s activities is estimated to be 7.8, implying that every dollar invested in the foundation’s activities is expected to result in a long-term benefit to society of $7.80’.
Infometrics quantifies those benefits as coming from:
A reduction in the costs associated with crimes, both through costs to victims of crime and the cost of the justice system.
Young people are entering adulthood with better education, in better health, and with a greater attachment to society, and therefore are more likely to find better-paying employment.
In addition to the private benefit to young people themselves, there is likely to be a positive spillover for the rest of society. This might materialise, for example, through a lower level of young people depending on benefits.
“There is a strong link between personal wellbeing and education outcomes, and considerable evidence documenting a correlation between education outcomes and better social and economic outcomes,” says Infometrics.
The consultancy says that its finding of a 7.8-to-1 benefit to cost ratio is based on the link between education and earnings, plus a productivity spillover that captures the impact of all the different ways that the presence of a better-educated population can improve national wellbeing.
“Examples are better health outcomes, less crime, improved civic participation and greater life satisfaction. The spillover effect is picking up as much on potential reductions in deadweight losses to society, e.g. from not having to publicly fund as many health care services or spending less on the justice system, as it is on the added positive contribution that comes from people being gainfully employed,” says Infometrics.
Infometrics analysed four foundation programmes when coming to its findings:
Kiwi Can – a life skills and values programme for year 1-8 students that is run in over 100 primary or intermediate schools around New Zealand. The programme promotes a ‘can do’ attitude and encourages children to take responsibility for their actions.
Stars – a school-based programme for all year nine students designed to facilitate the successful transition of students into secondary school, with senior year 13 and 13 students trained as peer mentors. The programme develops self-confidence, leadership and life skills and creates a sense of community by bringing younger and older students together.
Project K – a positive youth development programme that targets year 10 students with untapped potential and low self-esteem with the goal of improving their psychological, social and physical well-being. The 14 month programme builds self-confidence, promotes health and education skills and helps students to set and achieve goals with the support of trained adult mentors. In some cases the programme saves lives.
MYND – an outreach community service that caters for teenage boys aged 14 to 17 who have come to the notice of police and Oranga Tamariki through offending and anti-social behaviour. The aim of the programme is to reduce re-offending and anti-social behaviour by identifying contributing issues, providing positive options and alternatives, and assisting participants to integrate into society in a positive way. In short, MYND seeks to prevent youth offenders going on to adult prison. It deals with the top 20 per cent of youth offenders.
The foundation is also trialling various forms of a Career Navigator programme and has successfully piloted a programme for high risk 8-12 year olds to prevent them from escalating behaviours that would see them enter the youth justice system.
Infometrics says programmes like MYND have a direct impact in reducing criminal activity and hence the costs associated with crimes. A 2011 Ministry of Social Development Centre for Social Research and Evaluation study found that MYND is associated with a 72.4 per cent reduction in the severity and frequency of offending.
While benefits from reductions in crime are immediate, other benefits such as improved job prospects materialise later.
The Stars programme is producing greater benefits than 2009 because of economies of scale. Over the last 10 years, the number of students in the programme has doubled while costs rose only 20 per cent over the same period.
Infometrics says the various foundation programmes need to make a difference to just a small proportion of participants’ economic engagement in later life for the programmes to be of net benefit for the country.
“…the results imply that if the programmes can make a material difference to 0.32 per cent of Kiwi Can participants and only 0.05 per cent of Stars participants, then the programmes have been beneficial to the rest of New Zealand, even ignoring the benefit to the participants.”
The foundation was created by Sir Graeme and Lady Dingle, whose vision is to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be young. Together they continue to be relentless campaigners, supporters, fundraisers and champions of the charity’s quest to help young New Zealanders achieve their potential.