Economic Standard of Living
The indicators and measures in this
chapter look at aspects of the economy
that impact at the personal and household
level, such as income and expenditure.
Why this is Important
Levels of income and wealth are key determinates of
individual or family wellbeing. Economic standard of
living involves a complex combination of factors such as
income, living costs, and household size and composition.
The more prosperous an economy, the better off the
residents of that economy are in terms of opportunities
to gain a higher income, buy material possessions and
access quality health care. In general, this leads to greater
social connectedness, educational advancement, wider
employment options and increased life expectancy.
Incomes have increased markedly over the past
five years, accompanying a sharp decline in the
unemployment rate. The gender income gap is also
People in the 12 cities are generally satisfied with their
work/life balance, although less so than other New
The rising costs of house ownership and energy over
the past five years have driven increases in the overall
cost of living.
The number of benefits paid to families without children
has decreased sharply. Benefit payments to families with
children have increased in some cities, but overall the
number of domestic purposes benefit payments have
decreased while sickness benefits and accommodation
supplement payments have increased.
The majority of cities have lower levels of deprivation than
the rest of New Zealand. The highest levels of deprivation
are found in Hutt and Manukau.
Net worth increases with age, peaking in the early 60s.
New Zealanders have borrowed tens of billions of dollars
to fund mortgages in the past five years.
- Real (inflation-adjusted) ordinary-time earnings have decreased in some cities.
- There has been a sharp drop in the number of unemployment benefi ts received per week between 2003 and 2007.
- The number of benefits paid to families without children has decreased while benefit payments to families with children have
increased in some cities.
- The gender wage gap appears to be narrowing, although males still typically earn more than females.
- The majority of New Zealanders feel positively about their work/life balance, more so outside the 12 cities. Residents of North
Shore, Waitakere and Manukau are the least satisfied with their work/life balance.
Cost of Living
- Home ownership, energy, health care and education costs have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation.
- The cost of food has increased, but at a lower rate than inflation.
- Rental housing costs and clothing costs have risen only slightly.
- The cities with the highest proportion of people living in the two least deprived deciles are North Shore and Wellington.
- The cities with the highest percentage of people living in the two most deprived deciles are Porirua and Manukau.
- The top 10.0% of wealthy individuals own more than half of the nation’s total net worth, while the bottom 50.0% of the population
owns just 5.2% of total net worth.
- Wealth accumulation is closely related to age. Nearly half of people with negative net worth are likely to be students accruing
student loan debts.
- The most valuable asset people have is residential property, including homes, rental property and holiday homes.