Click here to download the entire Economic Standard of Living Chapter in pdf formatWhat’s in this Chapter?

  • Income
  • Work/life balance
  • Cost of living
  • Social deprivation
  • Net worth

For full details, graphs etc, refer to the chapter pdf

Key Results - Economic Standard of Living

  • Median personal and household incomes have increased in all cities over the past five years, although real (inflation adjusted) ordinary time earnings have decreased in some cities. There has been a sharp decline in the unemployment rate.
  • The wage gap between men and women appears to be narrowing although, typically, men still earn more than women.
  • The majority of New Zealanders feel positively about their work-life balance particularly those living outside the 12 cities.
  • Residents of North Shore, Waitakere and Manukau were less satisfied with their work-life balance compared to others.
  • The number of means tested benefi ts paid to families without children has decreased sharply while benefit payments to families with children have increased in some cities.
  • Home ownership and household energy costs have had a major inflationary impact between 2002 to 2007.
  • The top 10.0% of wealthy individuals own over half of the nation’s total net worth, while the bottom 50.0% of the population own just 5.2% of total net worth.
  • Wealth accumulation is closely related to age, increasing, typically, from 25 to 49 years of age and peaking between ages 55 and 69 years.
  • The most valuable asset people have is residential property, including homes, rental property and holiday homes.
  • Between 2002 and 2007 New Zealanders increased their total mortgage debt by $59.8 billion.

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.

Key Points

Incomes have increased markedly over the past five years, accompanying a sharp decline in the unemployment rate. The gender income gap is also narrowing.

People in the 12 cities are generally satisfied with their work/life balance, although less so than other New Zealanders.

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.

Income

  • 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.

Work/Life Balance

  • 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.

Social Deprivation

  • 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.

Net Worth

  • 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.