Women with children and older people are more likely to stay in work today than they did 30 years ago as a result of changes to New Zealand's labor policies, the government statistics agency said Friday.
Higher proportions of women and older people were in the labor force than in 1986, with fewer parents staying at home to look after children, but it was less common for teenagers to be working, according to Statistics New Zealand.
Women's participation in the labor force had risen from 54.7 percent in 1986 to 64 percent, while men's participation had dropped from 80.1 percent to 74.4 percent this year.
"Over the last 30 years, economic events and policy shifts have influenced participation in work," labor and income statistics manager Mark Gordon said in a statement.
"Among the changes that appeared to attract people to (or keep people in) the labor market were youth minimum wages in 1994, the end to compulsory retirement in 1999, and paid parental leave in 2002."
After retirement, the most common reason given for not being in the labor force in 1986 was "at home looking after children" (21.1 percent of people).
In 2016 this figure had dropped to 13.9 percent, and the second-most common reason was now "studying" (16.3 percent of people).
"Today the lower prevalence of people staying home to look after children shows how different labor market opportunities are now for parents," Gordon said.
The proportion of 15 to 19-year-olds in the labor force had dropped from 70.9 percent in 1986 to 48.7 percent this year, while the proportion of people aged over 65 had risen from less than 10 percent to more than 22 percent.
"Back in 1986, young people were more likely to be joining the labor force at an earlier stage in life, and there was less participation in school and post-school study," Gordon said.