Father and daughter on a swing chair.

Living Standards Research

What is it?

The Living Standards research is an ongoing research programme that aims to develop a comprehensive description of the living standards of New Zealanders using non-income measures of material wellbeing and hardship.

Policy makers, researchers, community groups, government agencies and citizens more generally have a strong interest in reliable and up to date information about the relative material wellbeing of different groups within the New Zealand community. The findings from the Living Standards research make a significant contribution to that knowledge base, to assist with the development of sound policy and to inform public discussion.

The Living Stanadards research complements the monitoring work based on household incomes published in the Ministry's Household Incomes Reports.

The three Living Standards Surveys: 2000, 2004, 2008

In 1999, the Super 2000 Taskforce commissioned a comprehensive survey of the living standards of older people. Three separate surveys were conducted in order to meet the objectives of the research. One survey was of older New Zealanders in general and the second was of older Maori. The third survey was a sample of working-age people. Although the Super 2000 Taskforce was disbanded in March 2000, the survey and the related streams of research were continued by the then Ministry of Social Policy (now the Ministry of Social Development).

New Zealand Living Standards 2004 not only updated the information in the first report, New Zealand Living Standards 2000, but also expanded it by looking into a wider range of factors that can affect people's wellbeing and living standards, such as life history, personal health and access to childcare.

The 2008 Living Standards Survey was a much shorter survey than the one in 2004, and the focus was on further development of indices of material wellbeing and hardship, and on international comparisons.

Non-income measures in the Household Economic Survey, 2007 - 2020

The HES has collected a set of non-income measures (non-monetary indicators) since the 2006-07 survey.

These are now used together with the data from the Living Standards Surveys.

Findings from the Living Standards research









We have also produced reports on the technical tools that we developed to analyse the information gathered in the surveys.

If you cannot download any of these files, or you would like hard copies of the Living Standards reports, please email info@msd.govt.nz or phone (04) 916 3300