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The material wellbeing of New Zealand households: trends and relativities using non-income measures, with international comparisons

Well-being Poverty Household finance Material deprivation Financial inclusion Financial stress New Zealand
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apo-nid67429.docx 2.07 MB

This report uses non-income measures (NIMs) to examine the material wellbeing of New Zealand families and households. NIMs  focus on the actual day-to-day living conditions of households in terms of the basics of food, clothing, accommodation, heating, and transport, and more widely in terms of their ability to maintain or replace broken household appliances, purchase desirable non-essentials, cope with unexpected demands on the household budget, and so on. They allow a ranking of households using a more direct measurement approach compared with the more indirect and partial approach using household income.  The NIMs report sits alongside the Household Incomes Report: together they give a comprehensive account of the relativities between different groups and of trends over time.

The report also shows where New Zealand ranks internationally using material hardship or deprivation measures, a more robust approach to international comparisons of low material wellbeing than using household incomes.

Each NIM can provide valuable information in its own right, and the report includes information on individual items, but the focus of the report is on the use of selected NIMs used together in two types of index:

  • material hardship or deprivation indices – one from the EU and one from MSD’s own work (DEP-17)
  • the material wellbeing index (the MWI) which allows comparisons across the spectrum from low to high material living standards, rather than just focussing on the low end.

The MWI is a revised version of the prototype ELSI (Economic Living Standards Index) measure developed by MSD in 2002.

The analysis in the report uses data from MSD’s 2008 Living Standards Survey (LSS) and Statistics New Zealand’s Household Economic Survey (HES) which has included a suite of NIMs since 2006-07. There is some limited use of analysis based on Statistics New Zealand’s longitudinal Survey of Family, Income and Employment (SoFIE), and their General Social Survey (GSS).

Though much of the survey data itself is from Statistics New Zealand, the analysis and findings are the work and responsibility of the Ministry of Social Development.

As with the Household Incomes Report, the plan for this NIMs report is to not only update the findings each year but also to add new analysis as time and data availability allow.

The key findings and key messages from both the Incomes Report and the NIMs report are brought together and summarised in the “Overview and Key Findings” document which is available on MSD’s website at: http://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/monitoring/household-incomes/index.html (8408)

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