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Discussion paper

Culture, Wellbeing and the Living Standards Framework: A Perspective (DP 19/02)

Issue date: 
Friday, 28 June 2019
Document Date: 
Friday, 28 Jun 2019
Publication category: 

This Discussion Paper provides a perspective on how to better reflect culture in the Living Standards Framework (LSF). It was jointly commissioned by the Treasury and Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage; and written by Lincoln University economists Professor Caroline Saunders and Professor Paul Dalziel, working with Dr Catherine Savage (Ihi Research).

It forms part of a series of papers published by the Treasury to generate discussion on key issues in developing the LSF and the LSF Dashboard.

The Treasury developed the LSF to strengthen the quality of its policy advice through the more consistent use of wellbeing data and evidence. The LSF Dashboard pulls together a range of wellbeing indicators which inform the Treasury’s advice on policy priorities for improving New Zealanders’ living standards.

The LSF and the LSF Dashboard are a work in progress and will continue to evolve over time. As well as culture, priority areas for further work include better reflecting Te Ao Māori and Pacific perspectives, child well-being and distributional indicators in the LSF and the Dashboard.

This paper is the first step in the process to better incorporate culture into the LSF and Dashboard. Key questions considered in the newly released paper include:

  • What are the different dimensions of culture that matter for New Zealanders’ wellbeing?
  • What would be the advantages and disadvantages of creating a fifth capital stock under the heading Cultural Capital in the LSF?
  • What set of indicators and statistical measures should there be to monitor the contribution of cultural capital to future wellbeing?

This discussion paper is based on AERU Research Report No. 353 of the same title.  The full references for the sources cited in this report can be found in this paper. A copy of the full Research Report can be downloaded at:

Submissions on the paper can be made to the Treasury ([email protected])  and now close on 15 November 2019. The Treasury will consider the submissions in its planned refresh of the Living Standards Framework and Dashboard, which it anticipates will be released in 2021.


This paper is part of a series of discussion papers on wellbeing in the context of the Treasury’s Living Standards Framework. The discussion papers have been published to support discussion on intergenerational wellbeing perspectives and do not represent the Treasury’s position.

While every effort has been made to ensure that the information herein is accurate, the AERU does not accept any liability for error of fact or opinion which may be present, nor for the consequences of any decision based on this information.

This discussion paper is based on AERU Research Report No. 353 of the same title. This shorter paper has been produced by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Wellington, with the permission of the authors. Sources cited in this discussion paper are referenced in the research report.


The authors thank colleagues who provided expertise on parts of this discussion paper, particularly Peter Tait, John Leonard, and Rawiri Hindle. We also thank Peter Richardson, Colin Holden, Tim Ng, Jez Tavita, and Diana Cook, who provided feedback on earlier versions of this paper. The research was jointly funded by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and the Treasury.

Last updated: 
Tuesday, 5 November 2019