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Perceptions of housing quality in 2010/11: Exploratory findings from the New Zealand General Social Survey
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  18 April 2013
Purpose and summary

Purpose

This report explores people’s perceptions of the quality of their housing, as measured in the New Zealand General Social Survey (NZGSS). The NZGSS collects housing data as part of surveying the well-being of New Zealanders. As well as providing a fundamental need for shelter, housing can affect different areas of people’s lives, including their health, safety and security, and life satisfaction. This report examines how housing quality perceptions vary across different population subgroups with a view to identifying which factors may influence housing outcomes.

About the New Zealand General Social Survey

The data for this report was sourced from the 2010 NZGSS, which collected data between April 2010 and March 2011. We surveyed 8,550 New Zealanders aged 15 years and over.

The housing quality aspects covered in the survey include heating, size, dampness, general condition, pests, cost, and accessibility. Respondents were asked to report if any or all of these aspects posed a major problem for them. Reference to perception-based reporting begs the question of how well it aligns with other data based on independent assessment. Generally, perceived assessments are good predictors of housing outcomes; however, they do not necessarily align directly (McColl et al, 2010). Previous research (BRANZ, 2012) indicates that people tend to report optimistically about the condition of their housing compared with more objective, professional assessments.

The NZGSS collects other perception-based data for a range of life domains, including health, knowledge and skills, paid work, social connectedness, safety and security, physical environment, culture and identity, leisure and recreation, and human rights. In addition, it collects information on people’s self-reported life satisfaction to capture overall levels of well-being. The information provides insight into what matters, why, and for whom in terms of the well-being of New Zealanders. It also shows how outcomes in one area of people’s lives are related to outcomes in other areas.

Summary of key points

The majority of the New Zealanders surveyed in the NZGSS did not perceive any major housing problems. For those who did, our findings show that their perceptions of housing quality were related to their material standard of living, followed by their age in terms of life stage, and their dwelling tenure (whether they rented or owned their home).

Key findings presented in this report are:

  • More than one-third of New Zealanders felt they lived in a house that had at least one major problem.
  • People with low standards of living were three to four times more likely than people with high standards of living to say they lived in cold, damp, or small houses.
  • People of prime working age (25–44 years) were the most likely of all age groups to find the house they live in cold, damp, or too small.
  • Renters were two to three times more likely than owner-occupiers to say they lived in cold, damp, or small houses.
  • Sole-parent families were the most likely of all family types to report that their houses were cold, damp, or too small.
  • A higher proportion of Māori and Pacific peoples said they lived in cold, damp, or small houses, which is associated with their lower material living standards and younger age structure compared with Europeans and Asians.
  • Perceptions of housing quality did not appear to be strongly associated with overall life satisfaction.

Please see the methodological section of this report for more information about housing data in the NZGSS.

See the Housing section for other Statistics NZ releases and further information on housing.

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