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Affordability of Housing: Concepts, Measurement and Evidence - WP 06/03

Publication Details

  • Affordability of Housing: Concepts, Measurement and Evidence
  • Published: Mar 2006
  • Status: Current
  • Authors: Hallinan, Brian; Robinson, Mark; Scobie, Grant M
  • JEL Classification: R20
  • Hard copy: Available in HTML and PDF formats only.

Affordability of Housing: Concepts, Measurement and Evidence

New Zealand Treasury Working Paper 06/03

Published March 2006

Authors: Mark Robinson, Grant M. Scobie and Brian Hallinan


There has recently been widespread public debate and media attention around housing affordability. This paper discusses the concept of affordability as it applies to housing, examines the approaches used to measure affordability, and then documents the aggregate evidence for New Zealand over the last twenty years. We largely use the Household Economic Survey conducted by Statistics New Zealand to obtain our data. We conclude that affordability is difficult to define and that there is no consensus as to the best way to measure it. Using a range of measures, we examine the trends over time. Our data reveals no long-term trend in affordability when considering all measures. Different measures show different movements over time. Affordability has appeared to move in cycles over the last twenty years.


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Table of Contents

List of Tables

List of Figures

1 Introduction

2 The Concept of Affordability

3 Measurement

4 Evidence

5 International Comparisons

6 Discussion and Conclusions

7 Appendix


twp06-03.pdf (841 KB) pp. 1–46

List of Tables

List of Figures


Tony Booth, Matthew Bell, Arthur Grimes and Gareth Kiernan were very helpful with the provision and analysis of data. The authors are also indebted to colleagues at the Treasury for their assistance, in particular to Hauraki Greenland and Roger Hurnard who provided useful suggestions, and to Graham Parkin of Housing New Zealand who provided a constructive review.


The views, opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Working Paper are strictly those of the author(s). They do not necessarily reflect the views of the New Zealand Treasury. The Treasury takes no responsibility for any errors or omissions in, or for the correctness of, the information contained in these working papers. The paper is presented not as policy, but with a view to inform and stimulate wider debate.

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