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Types of indicators

This chapter explains how and why we classified the indicators used in our framework for measuring sustainable development (Statistics NZ, 2009), and lists all the indicators presented in part B.

We classified the indicators into four groups:

  • stock
  • flow
  • level
  • structural.

This classification follows the procedural approach to measurement (see ‘Putting the definition into practice’ in part A).

The purpose of the four types of indicators is to create as complete a model as possible of the processes that influence sustainable development. Different types of indicators provide different messages, and together they provide a fuller picture of the situation. Table C4 shows what the four types of indicators measure.

Table C4
Indicator types

 Indicator types.

Grouping the indicators by these four types is a guide for selecting specific indicators, rather than a strict framework. This means that:

  • it is not necessary to select all four types of indicator for each topic if it doesn’t make sense to do so
  • it is not possible to allocate each specific indicator unambiguously to one type of indicator
  • a causal relationship between the individual indicators of a topic area is desirable, but not essential.

Selecting the indicators

The indicators selected had to be measurable and statistically sound, relate to the framework we have used, and be accessible. Specifically, the key requirements for each indicator are that it:

  • adequately and consistently reflects the phenomenon that it is intended to measure
  • responds rapidly and reflects changes in the phenomenon
  • is unambiguous with regard to evaluation (not applicable to context indicators)
  • is derived from high-quality, methodologically sound data
  • is relevant to the New Zealand context
  • can be directly related to at least one of the defining principles
  • is easily understood and provides information useful for decision making.

Examples of indicators

Using different types of indicators for one topic provides a fuller picture and allows more complex statements to be made relating to sustainable development (see examples in table C5).

Table C5
Examples of indicators used, by topic and type

 Examples of indicators used, by topic and type.

Indicators included in this report

Table C6 presents the complete list of indicators included in this report.

Table C6
Indicators included in this report

 Indicators included in this report, part 1.

Indicators included in this report.

 Indicators included in this report, part 3.

 Indicators included in this report, part 4.

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