Stats NZ has a new website.

For new releases go to

www.stats.govt.nz

As we transition to our new site, you'll still find some Stats NZ information here on this archive site.

  • Share this page to Facebook
  • Share this page to Twitter
  • Share this page to Google+
New Zealand General Social Survey: 2014
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  26 May 2015
Commentary

This first release of information from the 2014 New Zealand General Social Survey (NZGSS) provides insights into two aspects of personal well-being – overall life satisfaction and sense of purpose.

We focus on people who rated their overall life satisfaction or sense of purpose as 7 or above on the 0–10 scales as indicators of higher levels of self-rated well-being.

See definitions and data quality for background about the NZGSS and our well-being measures.

See related links for information about other data and reports from the 2014 NZGSS that we will publish in 2015.

Majority of New Zealanders rate their well-being highly

Over 8 in 10 New Zealanders aged 15 years and over rated their overall life satisfaction at 7 or above on a zero to 10 scale (82.6 percent).

Slightly more people (87.1 percent) rated their sense of purpose in the things they did at 7 or above.

Graph, self-rated well-being, by scale ratings, April 2014 to March 2015.

Overall life satisfaction and sense of purpose increase with age

Now we’ll take a closer look at New Zealanders who chose 7 or above on the two 0–10 well-being scales, to identify any differences between different population groups.

Graph, highly self-rated well-being, 7 or above, by age group (years), April 2014 to March 2015.

Older people (aged 65 and over) were more likely to be satisfied with their lives than younger age groups. People were also more likely to rate their sense of purpose highly as age increases.

Older people may be more satisfied with their lives (85.9 percent) and have a greater sense of purpose (89.8 percent) for a number of reasons.

They are generally more financially secure, have raised their children, have become grandparents, or have a better balance between paid work and their recreational time.

In contrast, middle-age people were less likely to rate their overall life satisfaction highly. Many people manage a challenging mix of family, work, and financial commitments in their middle-age, which may be reflected in this group’s lower levels of satisfaction with their lives. However, middle-age people were almost as likely as older people to feel their lives were worthwhile (88.3 percent).

Sole parents have lower sense of purpose and overall life satisfaction

People living in sole-parent families and people not in a family nucleus had lower rates of both aspects of well-being than other family types.

Graph, highly self-rated well-being, 7 or above, by family type, April 2014 to March 2015.

Just over two-thirds of those in sole-parent families (69.6 percent) and three-quarters of those who didn’t live in a family nucleus (76.7 percent) rated their overall life satisfaction at 7 or above.

People in these two family types were more likely to feel a greater sense of purpose in the things they did (80.4 percent and 81.7 percent, respectively) than to feel satisfied with their lives overall.

Self-rated well-being was notably higher for people living in couple families.

People who lived in couple family types, with or without children, had the highest self-rated well-being of all family types. Between 85.2 and 90.2 percent of people in these two groups reported overall life satisfaction and sense of purpose at 7 or above.

Their greater satisfaction and sense of purpose may be due to better access to social, economic, and emotional resources, and support from family members.

People with spare bedrooms more likely to rate their well-being highly

We can find out more about the effect of living with others on people’s self-rated well-being by looking at crowding in people’s homes. This measure tells us if people had enough bedrooms for the number of people they lived with.

Graph, highly self-rated well-being, 7 or above, by crowding, April 2014 to March 2015.

People who needed two or more bedrooms were less likely to rate their sense of purpose highly (78.3 percent) than those who had two or more spare bedrooms (90.1 percent).

Those with two or more spare bedrooms (86.1 percent) were also more likely to rate their overall life satisfaction highly than those who needed no more bedrooms (77.9 percent).

The positive relationship between sense of purpose and the number of bedrooms people had in their homes is strongly related to age-group patterns. People in older age groups were more likely to have homes with extra space, from owning larger homes while bringing up their children.

This suggests that people may still find satisfaction from the presence of other people in their homes, despite a shortage of space 

Māori and Pacific people less likely to rate their well-being highly

Māori and Pacific people were less likely to rate their well-being at 7 or above than Europeans were.

Graph, highly self-rated well-being, 7 or above, by selected ethnic groups, April 2014 to March 2015.

Just over three-quarters of Māori (77.8 percent) and Pacific peoples (78.1 percent) rated their overall life satisfaction highly. This rose slightly to 83.6 percent and 81.7 percent (respectively) for their sense of purpose ratings.

Europeans had the highest rated well-being rates of all the major ethnic groups – 84 percent rated their overall life satisfaction highly and almost 9 in 10 rated their sense of purpose highly (88.8 percent).

The differences in self-rated well-being across ethnic groups could be related to many factors, which might include the differences in each group’s age structure.

The 2013 Census shows that the Pacific peoples and Māori populations are significantly younger than the European population.

Given that we know self-rated well-being increases with age, age differences may explain the lower sense of purpose rates of the younger Pacific peoples and Māori populations, and the higher ratings of the older European population.

People with no qualifications have lower self-rated well-being

Work and income are two critical components of most people’s lives. They are key determinants of material well-being and are closely linked with other aspects of overall well-being.

Graph, highly self-rated well-being, 7 or above, by highest qualification, April 2014 to March 2015.

The higher qualified a person is, the more likely they were to rate their overall life satisfaction at 7 or above and, to a lesser extent, their sense of purpose.

Just over three-quarters of people with no qualification (76.8 percent) had high levels of self-rated overall life satisfaction. This rate rose with qualification level, so that 9 in 10 people (90.3 percent) with postgraduate qualifications rated their overall life satisfaction highly.

But qualification level didn’t affect people’s sense of purpose to the same extent.

Around 88 percent of people with level 1–7 qualifications or a bachelor’s degree rated their sense of purpose highly.

In contrast, people with no qualification (81.8 percent) were least likely to rate their sense of purpose at 7 or above.

Qualification level is a key determinant of the level of personal income. The more qualified a person is, the more likely they are to earn a higher income. This could explain the relationship between higher qualification and overall life satisfaction.

Unemployed less likely to have high self-rated well-being

Unemployed people were much less likely than other people to rate either aspect of their well-being at 7 or above.

Graph, highly self-rated well-being, 7 or above, by labour force status, April 2014 to March 2015.

Just over 7 in 10 unemployed people (70.5 percent) rated their overall life satisfaction highly and 73.1 percent rated their sense of purpose highly.

This compares with over 8 in 10 employed people (84.4 percent) being highly satisfied with their lives overall and nearly 9 in 10 (89.0 percent) rating their sense of purpose at 7 or above.

Those not in the labour force had higher levels of self-rated well-being than unemployed people. Exactly 80.0 percent of people not in the labour force rated their overall life satisfaction highly and 84.7 percent reported higher levels of sense of purpose.

These differences in self-rated well-being across the labour force groups were strongly affected by age structure.

A high proportion of older people aren’t in the labour force, and it’s this age group that has the highest levels of self-rated well-being.

Self-rated well-being levels off with higher income

Both aspects of self-rated well-being rose with income, but they levelled off from around $70,000.

Graph, highly self-rated well-being, 7 or above, by personal income, April 2014 to March 2015.

Just under 8 in 10 people (78.3 percent) receiving $30,000 or less rated their satisfaction with their lives overall at 7 or above. This compares with over 9 in 10 people (92.5 percent) with a personal income of $100,001 or more.

Similarly, just over 8 in 10 people (83.1 percent) with an income of $30,000 or less rated their sense of purpose at 7 or above, compared with 9 in 10 (96.1 percent) of those earning $100,001 or more.

Notably, the rise in overall life satisfaction began to level off from the $70,001 mark. This pattern is found in much of the literature that looks at the relationship between personal income and self-rated well-being.

People with lower incomes had relatively wide gaps between their two well-being rates, suggesting that low income has a greater influence on life satisfaction rather than on sense of purpose.

For more detailed data, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

  • Share this page to Facebook
  • Share this page to Twitter
  • Share this page to Google+
Top
  • Share this page to Facebook
  • Share this page to Twitter
  • Share this page to Google+