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Subjective wellbeing in New Zealand: Some recent evidence


New Zealand Productivity Commission

Date published

9 May 2016

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This paper analyses a range of factors associated with the subjective wellbeing of New Zealanders. It provides international comparisons based on the Better Life Index developed by the OECD. In addition it draws on data from three waves of the New Zealand General Social Survey (NZGSS).

The OECD Better Life Index shows that New Zealand compares favourably with the average for the OECD countries in all aspects of wellbeing except income and work-life balance. Health, education and the environment are factors that New Zealanders assess as important for overall wellbeing.

Based on data from the NZGSS, having support in a crisis is associated with higher levels of subjective wellbeing, a finding consistent with previous studies.

We find that subjective wellbeing increased modestly by some three to four percent between 2008 and 2012, after controlling for variation in individual characteristics. To better understand the determinants of wellbeing, further research into New Zealanders’ perceptions of their wellbeing and the development of panel datasets to conduct longitudinal analysis are suggested.

Number  RN 2016/3
JEL codes  I31: General welfare, Basic needs, Living standards, Quality of life, Happiness



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