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Household Economic Survey: Year ended June 2013
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  28 November 2013

About the Household Economic Survey

The Household Expenditure Survey (HES) is conducted every three years, and collects information on household expenditure and income, as well as a wide range of demographic information. A shorter version of the survey, HES (Income), is collected in the two years between the full HES.

The main differences between the two surveys include the extent to which expenditure data is collected. The full HES collects expenditure information, including purchases of food, clothing, and household items. An expenditure diary is used to collect some of this detailed information in addition to the questionnaire. In HES (Income), the only expenditure data collected relates to specific housing costs, including rent, mortgages, property rates, and building-related insurance. The diary is not used.

The HES (Income) can be compared with the full HES for most measures. However, differences in the questionnaires can affect expenditure reporting on mortgages and loans.

See Differences between full HES and HES (Income) for more information. 

More definitions

Aggregate: The sum of all the values of a certain indicator. For example, aggregate income from wages and salaries for total New Zealand is the sum of wages and salaries income in New Zealand earned by the population.

Average (mean): the average value – the mean is calculated by adding two or more figures and dividing the sum by the number of figures.

Building-related insurance: A household has expenditure on building-related insurance when it pays premiums to an insurance company or broker for coverage in the event of damage occurring to a dwelling. See Differences between full HES and HES for more information.

Deciles: are formed by dividing the population into 10 equal groups, from lowest to highest. The bottom decile (decile 1) is the lowest 10 percent of the population, while the top decile (decile 10) is the highest 10 percent.

Dwelling ownership: an aggregation of categories from the 'tenure of household' classification. Tenure refers to the occupancy a household has in a private dwelling. It does not refer to the tenure of the land on which the dwelling is situated.

The dwelling can be classified in two ways:

  • Owned or partly owned: covers dwellings that are held (or not held) in a family trust, regardless of whether mortgage payments are made or not made for the dwelling.
  • Dwelling not owned: covers dwellings where the household does not own the dwelling, and either pays rent or lives there rent-free.

Expenditure: the amount of money spent on specified items or services. All expenditure includes goods and services tax (GST) and excise duties.

For those making mortgage/rent payments: includes only households who say they make either a mortgage or rent payment.

Household: a group of people who share a private dwelling and normally spend four or more nights a week in the household. They must share consumption of food, or contribute some portion of income towards essentials for living as a group.

Housing-costs-to-household-income ratio: aggregate housing costs for all households as a proportion of the aggregate household income for all households. This measure is often used as an indicator of housing affordability.

However, it is typically calculated by using disposable household income (gross income minus income tax) instead of before-tax (gross) income. Only gross income is reported in this release.

This means the housing-costs-to-(gross)-household income ratios may be slightly lower than ratios reported from other data sources. This measure includes households that do not make mortgage or rent payments.

Imputation: replaces missing values with actual values from similar respondents. For more information see imputation in data quality.

Income: before-tax (gross) income. Income in this release is not equivalised. That is, it is not adjusted to remove the effects of household size or household type (eg the number of dependent children).

Income received from this source: includes only people or households that receive the specified source of income used in calculating averages and medians (so excludes those who reported no income from the specified source).

Investment income: net profit or loss received from investments. Investments captured in this collection are rent, rents from Māori land or other leased land, dividends from New Zealand companies, royalties, or interest from: banks, other financial institutions, bonds, stocks, money market funds, debentures, or securities.

Irregular income: includes income from inheritances, matrimonial settlements, lump-sum life insurance pay-outs, lump-sum bursaries and prizes, and gifts of money from other New Zealand households.

Median: the point where half the population is above and half below the stated amount.

Mortgage payments: consists of mortgage principal repayments, mortgage interest payments, and application and service fees for mortgages.

New Zealand Superannuation and war pensions: covers New Zealand Superannuation, and veteran’s, war disablement, and surviving spouse pensions.

Other government benefits: includes all family assistance payments such as those made as part of the Working for Families package. This category also includes main benefits (eg unemployment benefit, invalid's benefit), and student allowances, emergency benefits, and supplements.

Other sources of regular and recurring income: includes income received from trusts, annuities, alimony, educational scholarships, and income protection insurance.

Percentage of households reporting: sum of the households reporting expenditure or income, divided by the number of households in the population.

Private superannuation income: includes income received from both job-related superannuation schemes and other private schemes.

Quartiles: are formed by dividing the population into four equal groups, from lowest to highest. The bottom quartile (quartile 1) is the lowest 25 percent of the population, while the top quartile (quartile 5) is the highest 25 percent.

Quintiles: are formed by dividing the population into five equal groups, from lowest to highest. The bottom quintile (quintile 1) is the lowest 20 percent of the population, while the top quintile (quintile 5) is the highest 20 percent.

Region: the HES sample design has five broad regions. The Wellington and Canterbury regional council areas, and the Auckland Council area, are separate regions. The remaining regional council areas are grouped as Rest of the North Island and Rest of the South Island. These consist of:

  • Rest of the North Island: Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Taranaki, and Manawatu-Wanganui regional council areas.
  • Rest of the South Island: Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman, West Coast, Otago, and Southland regional council areas.  

Rent payments: includes rent paid for primary property, and for other properties, and other payments connected with renting – that is, bonds, ground rent, and easements.

Rents: are rent payments paid by the household. Imputed rent (the estimated benefit value from home-ownership of not having to pay rent, partly offset for home-owners by the expenses of home ownership) is not reported in this release.

Sampling weights: the number of units in the population represented by the sample member.

Self-employment income: is the net profit or loss received from all current and previous self-employment jobs held over the reference period. It includes drawings (cash or goods the respondent takes out of the business instead of a 'wage').

Statistical significance: in statistics, a result is considered significant not because it is important or meaningful, but because it is predicted as unlikely to occur by chance alone.

Total housing costs: consists of expenditure from the following sources: mortgage principal repayments, mortgage interest payments, mortgage application fees, rent payments, other payments associated with renting (eg bonds paid in the last 12 months), property rates payments (both regional and local government), and payments associated with building-related insurance.

See Differences between HES and HES (Income) for a complete list of expenditure collected in HES.

Wages and salaries: consists of income received from all current and previous wage and salary jobs held over the reference period. This includes any job-related bonuses, commissions, redundancies, or other taxable income such as honoraria or directors fees. A respondent can have an employment status of ‘self-employed’, but receive wage and salary income instead of self-employment income.

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