Media statement

A new Treasury paper and dashboard reveal wellbeing trends in New Zealand

New work from the Treasury sheds light on important indicators of New Zealand’s wellbeing and how they are trending, Treasury Secretary Caralee McLiesh said today.

Caralee McLiesh launched the paper Trends in Wellbeing in Aotearoa New Zealand, 2000-2020 (Wellbeing Trends Report) and a refreshed Living Standards Framework (LSF) Dashboard in an online seminar this afternoon. The event was the first of a new Treasury-hosted wellbeing seminar series running through to early 2023.

The seminar series, Wellbeing Trends Report and updated LSF Dashboard are part of a large programme of work the Treasury is doing in the lead-up to the publication of Te Tai Waiora: Wellbeing in Aotearoa New Zealand 2022, a new requirement under the Public Finance Act. Publication of Te Tai Waiora is expected in November 2022.

Today’s seminar was on recent developments to the Living Standards Framework, how it is being used within the Treasury (including in the Wellbeing Trends Report), and how this will inform Te Tai Waiora.

“The Treasury is committed to taking a broad approach to economic analysis. We strive for policy analysis that takes into account a wide range of wellbeing outcomes, from health to social cohesion, environment and income,” said Caralee McLiesh. 

“The Wellbeing Trends Report investigates how wellbeing in New Zealand compares to other countries, how wellbeing has changed over time, and how wellbeing is distributed across various groups of the population.

“What we find is that New Zealand’s wellbeing is going well in many respects, with high air quality, high rates of employment and volunteering, and high levels of social connection and life satisfaction.

“We also face many challenges and opportunities for improvement, for example with decreasing education attainment relative to the OECD and increasing obesity levels. And those that don’t own their own house tend to face problems with affordability, habitability and crowding,” said Caralee McLiesh.

Treasury’s Chief Economic Adviser Dominick Stephens noted that there is wide variation in wellbeing outcomes across the population.

“People with disability have much lower wellbeing on many indicators. Māori and Pacific people often have lower wellbeing than others. And one of the most striking disparities is the large and growing gap between young and old New Zealanders. While each person’s experience of wellbeing will be different, on average over-65s are more satisfied with life, have a higher sense of belonging, are less lonely, have more social support, experience fewer negative emotions, are more politically engaged, volunteer more, and have more leisure time than under-65s. Meanwhile, we note concerns for the wellbeing of children and young people, observing that we have the highest rate of bullying in the OECD and school attendance is declining.

“The report we have published today focuses on longer-term trends in wellbeing rather than the more immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but later this year we will release an update of earlier analysis of COVID-19’s effects on wellbeing.

“Today we have also published our updated LSF Dashboard. The LSF Dashboard assembles 103 indicators across individual and collective wellbeing, our institutions and governance, and four aspects of wealth: physical and financial capital, the natural environment, social cohesion and human capability. Where available, it also provides international comparisons and distributional breakdowns across ethnicity, age, gender and places. 

“The updated LSF Dashboard aligns with developments to our Living Standards Framework in 2021, including new indicators on the health of institutions, and measures that reflect child wellbeing—such as child poverty in the income domain, childhood injuries in the safety domain, and caring and support for young people in the redefined family and friends domain.

“The Wellbeing Trends Report, the LSF Dashboard and the range of upcoming work contributing to Te Tai Waiora all help us to better understand the interdependencies and trade-offs across the different dimensions of wellbeing, which is at the heart of robust economics and policy analysis,” said Dominick Stephens.


Bryan McDaniel, Principal Communications Advisor
Telephone: (04) 917 6268 or 021 817 207
Email: [email protected]