New Zealand in four charts

The Government took one step closer to its 2019 Wellbeing Budget with the release of Treasury’s Living Standards Framework Dashboard yesterday.

The dashboard brings together more than 60 indicators that aim to measure New Zealanders’ wellbeing. It draws data from Statistics NZ’s massive General Social Survey and several other statistical measurements.

The indicators will be used to guide the Government in putting together its 2019 Wellbeing Budget next year. 

The aim behind the Budget is to build a more nuanced picture of what is happening in New Zealand. Traditional measurements like GDP will still be used, but other factors like the rate of suicides or the number of people living in overcrowded housing will also be used.

Next week Finance Minister Grant Robertson will release the Budget Policy Statement, which will identify five priority areas for the next Budget. He has previously said that one of the five will be mental health wellbeing. 

Newsroom has trawled the Treasury’s dashboard for other interesting metrics that might be in need of Budget attention.

Mental health wellbeing 

The Government today released its Mental Health Inquiry report, which identified many shortcomings in the treatment of mental health. 

Treasury’s dashboard measures both the percentage of adults reporting high levels of psychological stress, which has tracked upwards since 2011. 

The rate in 2016 was nearly double what it was in 2011. 


The dashboard also allows comparisons between New Zealand and the OECD, a club of developed nations.

Data collected on housing shows the alarming cost of housing in New Zealand, compared with the OECD.

This box and whisker chart shows that since at least 2005, New Zealand has had some of the highest housing costs, with New Zealanders routinely spending more than 25 percent of their gross adjusted disposable income on housing. The OECD average over the same period was roughly 21 percent. 


The dashboard also measures how connected New Zealanders feel to their cultures. This is done by asking questions like what languages are spoken at home and whether people feel like they are able to be themselves.

Comparing these statistics across ethnic groups makes for interesting reading. 

Spider graphs show how a group’s wellbeing compares to the population’s average. When the blue point is greater than the black point, that means the particular group’s wellbeing is greater than the national average. If the yellow point is larger than the black point, this means the particular group’s wellbeing is lower than the national average. 

These graphs show people of Maori ethnicity feel roughly the same cultural identity as other New Zealanders. 

By contrast, Asian New Zealanders have a poor sense of cultural identity, differing from the average by 17 percentage points. This could be because Asian New Zealanders reported being less able to be themselves. 

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