Back to top anchor

History of the LSF

The Treasury has been at the forefront of making living standards analysis part of what governments do and our understanding has changed as we've learned more.

The Treasury has been iteratively developing the LSF since 2011, building on related work going back to at least 1999. A short history is provided below, with links to various documents that have been published over time. Note that some of our thinking has changed over time and many of the documents are discussion papers rather than Treasury papers, so not all of the documents below are entirely consistent with the current version of the framework.

Some documents are available in PDF format only. Contact [email protected] to request HTML versions. 


Public engagement on the 2018 version of the Living Standards Framework identified several limitations. The Treasury committed to addressing these limitations in a 2021 refresh of the framework, with a particular focus on the topics of culture, children’s wellbeing, te ao Māori, and Pacific Peoples. These topics were explored in a series of discussion papers ahead of the 2021 version of the LSF being adopted. During this time, we also worked to apply the Living Standards Framework alongside He Ara Waiora to analyse the wellbeing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and published a discussion paper on social capital and justice.

Towards a Living Standards Framework for all Aotearoa: Culture, children and wellbeing
October 2021 PDF, 2.24MB

He Kāhui Waiora: Living Standards Framework and He Ara Waiora Covid-19 Impacts on Wellbeing
July 2020 PDF, 1.39MB

Justice, Wellbeing and Social Capital
February 2020 PDF, 1.77MB

Culture, Wellbeing and the Living Standards Framework: A Perspective
June 2019 PDF, 1.05MB

An Indigenous Approach to the Living Standards Framework
February 2019 PDF, 567.6KB

He Ara Waiora: A Pathway Towards Wellbeing
September 2018 PDF, 672.4KB

An Asian Perspective and the New Zealand Treasury Living Standards Framework
September 2018 PDF, 823.9KB

A Pacific Perspective on the Living Standards Framework and Wellbeing
August 2018, PSF 2.8MB


A second version of the LSF was issued alongside a flurry of papers in 2018. This version explored each of the four capitals that were introduced in the initial 2011 version in more depth. This version also defined for the first time the 12 domains of wellbeing, following consideration of a range of international measurement frameworks and advice from an independent expert.

Diagram showing the 2018 version of the Living Standards Framework

Living Standards Framework: Background and Future Work
December 2018 PDF, 782,3KB

Our People – Multidimensional wellbeing in New Zealand
November 2018

Working with others across the public sector to develop measures of New Zealand's performance over the last 150 years: New Zealand's Living Standards over the last 150 years
August 2018 PDF, 655KB

Resilience and Future Wellbeing
July 2018, PDF 1.2MB

The Relationship between the Sustainable Development Goals and the Living Standards Framework
July 2018 PDF, 453.9KB

The Start of a Conversation on the Value of New Zealand’s Financial/Physical Capital
July 2018 PDF, 668.4KB

Treasury Living Standards Dashboard: Monitoring Intergenerational Wellbeing
June 2018 PDF, 1.4MB

Wellbeing Frameworks for the Treasury
February 2018 PDF, 472KB

The Start of a Conversation on the Value of New Zealand’s Human Capital
February 2018 PDF, 947.6KB

The Start of a Conversation on the Value of New Zealand’s Natural Capital
February 2018 PDF, 2.6MB

The Start of a Conversation on the Value of New Zealand’s Social Capital
February 2018 PDF, 893.4KB


Between 2012 and 2017, efforts focused on how to apply the Living Standards Framework to policy advice. Much of this work used a simpler representation of the key concepts in a pentagon that supported analysts to consider key high-level trade-offs. This simpler framework was first developed as part of the 2012 Tax Working Group process, to help them apply the Living Standards Framework to their analysis.

DIagram showing the 2015 Living Standards Framework

The New Zealand Treasury’s Living Standards Framework – Exploring a Stylised Model
September 2015 PDF, 710.66KB

An introduction to using the Living Standards Framework
July 2015 PDF, 978KB

Living Standards Background Note: 'Increasing Equity'
December 2015 PDF, 1.78MB

Living Standards: The Heart of Our Policy Advice
October 2014 PDF, 319KB

Living Standards Framework: links between corners and capitals
August 2014 PDF, 578KB

Living Standards Background Note: 'Social Infrastructure'
July 2013 PDF, 904KB

Living Standards: A Short Guide to 'Managing Risks'
January 2013 PDF, 221KB

Living Standards: Suggested Further Reading for 'Managing Risks' 
PDF, 2.26MB

Living Standards: A Short Guide to 'Economic Growth'
January 2013 PDF, 193KB

Living Standards: Suggested Further Resources for 'Economic Growth'
January 2013 PDF, 176KB

Living Standards: A Short Guide to 'Sustainability for the Future'
January 2013 PDF, 592KB

Living Standards: A Short Guide to 'Increasing Equity'
January 2013 PDF, 222KB

Living Standards: A Short Guide to 'Social Infrastructure'
January 2013 PDF, 368KB

Improving the Living Standards of New Zealanders: Moving from a Framework to Implementation - Speech by Dr Girol Karacaoglu 
13 June 2012, link to speech notes and slides. 


The first version of the Living Standards Framework was published in 2011. This introduced the distinction between capitals and domains that is still in use today, though there has been much refinement and deeper exploration of the concepts over time.

A diagram showing the first version of the Living Standards Framework in 2011

Working Towards Higher Living Standards for New Zealanders
May 2011 PDF, 377.87KB


Between 1999 and 2001, a series of papers were published on the topic of an inclusive economy. These papers addressed many of the substantive themes that were subsequently brought together in the first version of the Living Standards Framework.

Institutions, Social Norms and Well-being
June 2002 PDF, 393KB

Towards an Inclusive Economy
December 2001 PDF, 339KB

Geography and the Inclusive Economy: A Regional Perspective
December 2001 PDF, 298KB

Human Capital and the Inclusive Economy
December 2001 PDF, 311KB

Reducing Māori and Pacific Inequalities
December 2001 PDF, 354KB

One of the very first uses of the phrase ‘higher living standards’ was in the 1999 Briefing to the Incoming Government. This briefing contained the following diagram, which can be considered our proto-LSF:

Diagram of prototype Living Standards Framework

Towards Higher Living Standards: Briefing to the Incoming Government 1999
December 1999 PDF (part 1 of 4), 744.14KB

Last updated: 
Thursday, 28 October 2021