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Discussion paper

Towards a Living Standards Framework for all Aotearoa: Culture, children and wellbeing (DP 21/01)

Issue date: 
Thursday, 28 October 2021
Document Date: 
Thursday, 28 Oct 2021
Publication category: 

The Treasury’s new Living Standards Framework (LSF) was released in a Treasury Paper in October 2021. The 2021 version of the LSF (LSF2021) is intended to better reflect children’s wellbeing and culture, including being more compatible with te ao Māori and Pacific cultures.

This original proposal paper provides a richer explanation of the rationale for some of the changes in the LSF, drawing from a selective review of the enormous literatures on these topics. 

A draft version of this proposal paper was provided to targeted stakeholders for feedback and suggestions at the start of 2021. We then progressively worked towards a final version of the framework with those stakeholders. A such, the final version draws on both the ideas in this proposal paper and the ideas and suggestions of stakeholders. A summary of LSF2021 and the feedback provided is available in the Treasury paper.

The final version of LSF2021 is similar to but simpler than this proposal. Some of the ideas in this paper were considered better treated as optional extras for advanced users of the LSF. Where there are any conflicts between this paper and the Treasury paper, the Treasury paper should be treated as the definitive statement of what the LSF is, at least until it is next updated.


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.


This paper includes material adapted from Chris Thompson on ethical theory.

This paper has benefited from significant engagement with experts including Krushil Watene, Ingrid Robeyns, Tania Burchardt, Jonathan Hall, Marco Grix, Carrie Exton, Lara Fleischer, Charles Crothers, Paul Dalziel, Caroline Saunders, Girol Karacaoglu, Arthur Grimes, Conal Smith, Linda Meade, Marilyn Waring, Ganesh Nana, and Taimalieutu Kiwi Tamasese.

This paper has also benefited from input from far too many colleagues in Treasury and the wider public service to name them all individually. My thanks to all who have engaged on the ideas in this paper.

Last updated: 
Thursday, 28 October 2021