April 10, 2013
Power price hike can be bad for Māori health
Any power price rises this winter is likely to result in more Māori admitted to hospital for asthma.
University of Canterbury economics researchers Andrea Menclova and Rachel Webb have been looking at the relationship between asthma admissions and electricity prices.
Dr Menclova says New Zealand has one of the highest asthma prevalence rates among developed countries, and Māori are four times more likely to die from asthma than non-Māori.
She says New Zealand's humid climate is ideal for the mites that bring on the breathing disorder, and the best prevention is making homes warm and dry.
“Part of the analysis is looking directly at electricity prices on home heating. We got data from the fences and sure enough when we see electricity prices go up, people do heat their houses less. The amount of percentage of people reported using electric heating, which is the healthiest form of heating, goes down,” she says.
Dr Menclova says more work needs to be done on whether heating at school affects asthma, with school terms having an effect on asthma hospital admissions.
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