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New Zealanders reckon they’re doing pretty well
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  26 May 2015

New Zealand General Social Survey: 2014  –  Media Release

The majority of New Zealanders say they’re highly satisfied with their lives, and slightly more rate their sense of purpose highly, Statistics New Zealand said today. These are the first results from Statistics New Zealand’s survey of nearly 9,000 people.

The New Zealand General Social Survey is the biggest social survey outside the five-yearly census. It shows 83 percent of people were highly satisfied with their lives in 2014, while 87 percent rated their sense of purpose highly.

“It’s a complex picture, but without a doubt most New Zealanders say they’re doing pretty well, have enough money, have good health, and see family and friends,” Statistics NZ’s Phillip Walker says.

“There’s real variation between people but overall we can say that older people are more likely to be satisfied with their lives and to rate their sense of purpose highly. Maybe that’s because they tend to be more financially secure, or have managed to achieve a good balance between work and play.”

Conversely, younger age groups tend to be less satisfied and aren’t as likely to rate their sense of purpose highly.

“We also know that money makes a difference, but only to a point. If you’re not earning much, you are less likely to be satisfied with life. That satisfaction increases with income until $70,000 a year, and after that the gains are much smaller,” Mr Walker says.

Other key findings of the survey of 8,795 people include:

  • Sole parents, the unemployed, and people with no qualifications have lower levels of both overall life satisfaction and sense of purpose. 
  • People with more space in their homes are likely to rate their well-being more highly. 
  • Māori are less likely to be satisfied with their lives than the other ethnic groups but they rate their sense of purpose highly. 
  • More-qualified people are both more satisfied and report a greater sense of purpose.

“It’s clear that a handful of key factors point towards life satisfaction – finances, social connections, health, and housing. If you’ve got those, you’re likely to be doing ok,” Mr Walker says. “On the other hand, people who are unemployed have lower levels of well-being."

“Another interesting thing the survey found is that while New Zealanders are generally very accepting of diversity, in terms of who they’re happy to have as neighbours, many have clear concerns about people with mental health issues. This type of information is really useful for policymakers, and organisations planning community services and other things.”

Ends

For media enquiries contact: Colin Marshall, Wellington 04 931 4600, info@stats.govt.nz
Authorised by Liz MacPherson, Government Statistician, 26 May 2015

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