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Ed Sheeran

Youthful population more at risk of prison time

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Waikato University researchers say the youthfulness of the Maori population is an important factor in the high proportion of the Maori in the prison muster.

Natalie Jackson and Tahu Kukutai from the National Centre for Demographic and Economic Analysis say if the Pakeha population had the same age structure as Maori, then the European incarceration rate would increase by 30 per cent.

If Maori had the same age structure as Europeans, the Maori incarceration rate would drop 24 per cent.

Dr Kukutai says like factors like institutional racism and socioeconomic disadvantage also play a part, but age is statistically significant.

"The age structure of the Maori population, the age structure of the Pakeha population, this is a product of historial differences in fertility and mortality. You can't change the age structure of a population, it is what it is, but what we can do is take account of it so you get a more accurate picture when you are trying to figure out what is going on, what are the couses, and how we can address them through policy interventions," she says.

Dr Tahu Kukutai says statistics banded about in coverage of a pending Waitangi Tribunal inquiry into imprisonment and rehabilitation can falsely reinforce negative stereotypes that deviancy is linked with Maori identity, culture or norms.


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