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Slight fall in overall life satisfaction, but most Kiwis still satisfied - Stats NZ

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Self-rated life satisfaction remains high in New Zealand, despite a slight decrease in the average rating, Stats NZ said today.

The average rating for overall life satisfaction is now 7.7, a slight fall from 7.8 in 2016 and 2014. However, the majority of Kiwis (81.1 percent) still rated their life satisfaction highly, as 7 or above on a 0 to 10 scale.

The drop in average rating was largely driven by an increased proportion of people rating their life satisfaction from 0 to 6.

Four key aspects impact wellbeing

People’s experience in four key aspects of life - loneliness, income, health, and housing quality - historically have a strong relationship with overall life satisfaction. New Zealand General Social Survey: 2012 has more information.

"Self-rated overall life satisfaction is generally lower for those with fewer good outcomes and higher for those with multiple good outcomes in these key life aspects," wellbeing and housing manager Dr Claire Bretherton said.

For people who did not report a good outcome in any of these life aspects, just over half (53.8 percent) rated their overall life satisfaction as 6 or below (on a 0 to 10 scale), similar to 2016. For those with four good outcomes, 95.1 percent were satisfied or very satisfied with their lives.

This group stated they:

had not felt lonely in the last month

had enough or more than enough money to meet everyday needs

were in excellent or very good health

had no major problems with cold, damp, mould, or needing urgent repairs in their home.

Note: Four aspects of life have a strong relationship with wellbeing in New Zealand. A good outcome in each of these aspects of life is captured when someone reports having excellent or very good health; more than enough or enough money to meet everyday needs; having not felt lonely in the last four weeks; or no major problems (cold, damp, mould, urgent repairs needed) with their home.

Text alternative for overall life satisfaction, by number of good outcomes reported in four key aspects of life, 2018

The proportion of New Zealanders with a good outcome in only one of these life aspects increased from 13.4 percent to 15.4 percent between 2016 and 2018, while those with four good outcomes dropped from 24.1 percent to 21.5 percent.

Kiwis less poor, less lonely, but less healthy

The proportion of people having enough or more than enough money remained stable between 2016 and 2018. However, there was some improvement in financial wellbeing overall, as the percentage of people who stated they did not have enough money to meet everyday needs fell from 11.2 percent to 10.0 percent, while those who had only just enough money increased from 24.4 percent to 27.1 percent.

"This change coincided with a drop in the unemployment rate and several increases in the minimum wage between 2016 and 2018," Dr Bretherton said.

During this period, there was also an increase in New Zealanders feeling lonely some of the time, but those who felt lonely most or all of the time dropped by a similar amount - from 6.3 percent to 3.5 percent. Levels of self-stated loneliness are now roughly the same as 2014.

Self-rated excellent health also fell from 19.1 percent to 16.5 percent during this period. There was a similar increase in reported good health, but little change in the reports of very good health.

Housing problems on the rise

The proportion of New Zealanders affected by major housing problems increased from a quarter to nearly a third between 2016 and 2018. These problems consisted of mould, cold and damp issues, as well as urgently needed repairs. However, results of reported housing problems may not be directly comparable to those in 2016, owing to a change in the housing survey questions.

Text alternative for overall life satisfaction, by number of good outcomes reported in four key aspects of life, 2018

This bar graph shows that for New Zealanders who reported no good outcomes, 46.2 percent rated their life satisfaction as high and 53.8 percent rated their life satisfaction as low. For those with one good outcome, 65.2 percent rated their life satisfaction as high and 34.8 percent rated their life satisfaction as low. For those with two good outcomes, 78.2 percent rated their life satisfaction as high and 21.8 percent rated their life satisfaction as low. For those with three good outcomes, 88.6 percent rated their life satisfaction as high and 11.4 percent rated their life satisfaction as low. For those with four good outcomes, 95.1 percent rated their life satisfaction as high and 4.9 percent rated their life satisfaction as low.

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