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Discussion paper

An Asian Perspective and the New Zealand Treasury Living Standards Framework (DP 18/10)

Issue date: 
Monday, 3 September 2018
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Executive Summary

The New Zealand Treasury has developed a Living Standards Framework (LSF) to assess the impact of government policies on intergenerational wellbeing. The Treasury is committed to incorporating New Zealand's diverse cultural perspectives into the LSF framework (Frieling, 2018, p. 2). This report is a starting point for discussions on ways to include an Asian perspective in the LSF.

The paper references work by academics, health practitioners, and experts in New Zealand and overseas since the LSF is based on the OECD approach. As one of the four largest demographic groups in New Zealand, projected to be the second largest by 2026, a New Zealand Asian perspective on the LSF is critical. The Asian culture strongly values collectivism, often with hierarchical relationships and distinct gender roles. Collectivist cultures strongly emphasize the needs and goals of the group as a whole over the needs and desires of individuals. In such cultures, relationships with other members of the group and the interconnectedness between people play a central role in each person's identity and wellbeing. The Confucian teachings which emphasise diligence, perseverance, frugality, responsibility and recognition of the hierarchical orderings of relationship have also heavily influenced the Asian cultural values and perceptions of wellbeing. Hence, from the view of the LSF, the Asian culture place much emphasis on Social and financial/physical capital.

The Asian population is currently experiencing a number of issues related to the determinants of wellbeing, including health(mental health, non-communicable diseases and access to health services) and immigration (employment difficulties).Experiences of perceived discrimination also heavily impact their wellbeing.

The paper proposes that indicators are needed on 1)social cohesion, settlement and sense of belonging, 2) radical acceptance and cultural recognition, 3) employability, and 4) accessing government services such as English proficiency, health care and interpretation services. These are attempts to take into consideration the Asian cultures unique set of values and their distinct determinants of wellbeing.

This is a starting point for further discussions of incorporating the wellbeing of Asian New Zealanders. Both qualitative and quantitative data were drawn from various sources to identify these indicators.


This paper is part of a series of discussion papers on wellbeing in the Treasury’s Living Standards Framework. The discussion papers are not the Treasury’s position on measuring intergenerational wellbeing and its sustainability in New Zealand. Our intention is to encourage discussion on these topics. There are marked differences in perspective between the papers that reflect differences in the subject matter as well as differences in the state of knowledge. The Treasury very much welcomes comments on these papers to help inform our ongoing development of the Living Standards Framework.

The views expressed in this paper are solely the author’s views and are not those of Auckland University of Technology (AUT).

Last updated: 
Monday, 3 September 2018