I’ve had the tune ‘‘I think I’m turning Japanese’’ going round in my head this morning.
It’s an appropriate tune to accompany the writing of my column, because recently I found statistics that indicate that I am Asian – at least when it comes to my spending patterns . . . some of them, anyway.
New Zealand has experienced a large rise in its Asian population.
In 1996, there were just under 195,000 ethnically Asian people in the country.
By 2006 the number had risen to more than 400,000.
And with that rise comes increasing notice from the government statisticians responsible for tracking our spending patterns.
Governments like to know what we spend our money on and it turns out that viewed from onhigh, ethnically Asian New Zealanders do have different spending patterns compared to other ethnic groups like Pakeha and Maori.
And looking at the data made me feel positively Asian, though I am going to be cautious in drawing many conclu- sions other than that some of the values which Asian spending patterns seem to suggest values I hold dear.
Let me break down the aspects of our spending patterns that interest me most.
Education spend: I’ll start with one of my biggest preoccupations – education.
Being father to two girls, my greatest delight is their progress in life.
I’m super proud of them and love to see the school work, piano, dancing, swimming and French going well.
There’s a bit of an investment going on there but I don’t begrudge a penny.
The spending patterns as measured by Stats NZ show that while edu- cation spending accounted for 1.2 per cent of Pakeha spending in 2011 and 1.7 per cent for Maori, it was 3.7 per cent for Asian households.
If success is determined by education, then this is an area Pakeha and Maori New Zealand may want to try a bit harder on.
Interest: Higher income people tend to spend more on interest.
That’s a house ownership effect.
Similarly, the amount you spend on a house these days is directly linked to the education you want for the kids.
Parents who want a better than average state education for their kids often spend more than average on buying a home in an area where there is a school that delivers that.
I don’t want to draw any hard conclusions but the spending stats in this area for 2011 reads: 10 per cent of Asian household spending, compared to 8 per cent for Pakeha and 8.2 per cent for Maori.
Booze and fags: OK, I may not be quite as Asian as I boasted earlier. I do like a drink and so do some of my col- leagues which some weeks sees me indulge a little more.
This week having bought rum, stout and barley wine in preparation for making a traditional Christmas steamed pudding, anyone analysing my credit card statement might conclude I was an alcoholic with eclectic tastes.
But the figures on booze and tobacco spending are pretty stark: Pakeha 6.6 per cent, Maori 8.1 per cent, Asian 2.6 per cent.
Amusingly, people lie to statisticians about how much they drink, so they find clever ways of reconstructing the data.
Recreation and culture: The figures for spending in this area are 9 per cent Pakeha, 7.2 per cent Maori and 6.8 per cent Asian.
I have a bit of a book habit but in recent years have been a bit of a homebody. That’s made me a lean funder of the arts, though I have chipped a bit into the coffers of various half marathon organisers.