New Zealand “third highest” material standard of living

“Most Kiwi families have a high standard of material wellbeing relative to our international peers.”

There are frequent claims that New Zealand is becoming a basket case and that the standard of living is terrible for most of us. For example Union leader Robert Reid on Q & A on Sunday:

“New Zealand is not doing well.”

“When are working people going to catch up?”

“There’s not those opportunities and yes you can always find one individual who’s gone from the child of a widow in a state house and perhaps become a banker but it’s not about one individual, it’s about where most people are”.

“Working people don’t even have enough money every week to be able to buy their food and their rent.”

“This is the problem in this country, we’ve actually got the elite represented by the Government and Michele (Boag) with where most working people are.”

I know that it’s financially tough for a significant number of people, but I also see examples of working families who are managing ok. Consumerism seems to be surviving successfully.

And a study claims things are not all bad, reported by Stuff in New Zealand has world’s third-highest material standard of living – report

Researchers at public policy research institute Motu used data from 800,000 households across 40 countries to create the new measure for wellbeing, which took into account homes that included a 15-year-old.

The measure is based on ownership of possessions such as books, internet connections, whiteware and cars, as well as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in a house.

MOTU Wellbeing IndexMotu senior fellow Dr Arthur Grimes said the results should call into question the widespread negative impression of living standards in New Zealand compared with other developed countries.

“Our results show New Zealand is still a great place to bring up children, at least in material terms.

“Not only do we have wonderful natural amenities, but contrary to what GDP statistics tell us, most Kiwi families have a high standard of material wellbeing relative to our international peers.”

Grimes said New Zealand’s level of average material wellbeing in part reflected its high number of cars and bathrooms per household.

New Zealand had the second- and seventh-highest average possession rate for cars and numbers of bathrooms in 2012.

And despite claims that inequality in New Zealand is terrible on an Inequality Index we are very middle of the pack.

MOTU Inequality IndexNow this is just one study. But it does suggest that the quality of life isn’t as bad, generally,  as some people try to portray.

Sure there are numbers of people for whom life is very difficult, and we should be doing whatever we can practically to address that.

But generalising doom and gloom merchants detract from targeting the real problems because many people know their claims don’t apply to them.

New Zealand is a great place to live in. We just need to make it better for more of us.

MOTU report links:

The Material Wellbeing of New Zealand Households

A new measure of material wellbeing based on actual household consumption rather than on their incomes, shows that New Zealand households have amongst the highest material living standards in the world. Using country averages for households that…

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16 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  28th July 2015

    Facts have a marvellous habit of dispelling b.s. for those prepared to search for them, but most prefer to believe whatever they want instead.

    Reply
    • kiwi_guy

       /  28th July 2015

      By “prepared to search” you mean cherry pick facts that tickle your ideological fancy and ignore any that don’t.

      Reply
      • kittycatkin

         /  28th July 2015

        No, I think he means search for facts, real, indisputable ones rather than blindly believe statements unbacked up by anything that can be proved.

        Reply
  2. Mike C

     /  28th July 2015

    LOL. That flushes the Lefts Poverty Theory down the dunny 🙂

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  28th July 2015

      Yes, but they are impervious to facts and logic, Mike. They know what has to be true to support their beliefs and that’s the end of the matter.

      Reply
      • kiwi_guy

         /  28th July 2015

        Whereas the Right holds up the Torch of Truth and Facts, a Beacon of Hope and Reason in a world darkened by evil Lefties.

        Reply
  3. kiwi_guy

     /  28th July 2015

    For a starters, comparing yourself to 3rd World hell holes like Thailand and Brazil is always going to make you look better.

    Reply
    • Missy

       /  28th July 2015

      It doesn’t change the facts that New Zealanders enjoy a lifestyle that puts the population into the top 1% of people in the world for Material wealth.

      Poverty is not when you can’t afford Sky TV, an overseas holiday or the latest iphone, and it should not be about not buying food in order to buy alcohol, pay for Sky TV or have the latest smartphone.

      New Zealanders in general do not, and should not, live in poverty, we have a generous welfare system, and there is no reason – except people’s budget mismanagement, stupidity or selfishness – for people to be living in true poverty.

      Reply
      • kiwi_guy

         /  28th July 2015

        Some individuals may be poor at budgeting, but your claim that all poverty in NZ is only the result of people making poor life decisions is NUTS.

        Reply
        • Missy

           /  28th July 2015

          How is it not the result of poor life decisions? Those that prioritise luxuries over necessities, those that think a night at the pub is more important than food for their children, those that keep having children they can’t afford, those that refuse to move towns or cities to get a job, those that don’t want help from the Govt so end up homeless…..

          Reply
      • kittycatkin

         /  28th July 2015

        We don’t have Sky, smartphones, iphones, or even a dvd player 😀 Nor do we buy much alcohol ( I don’t drink at all and my husband drinks very little) We have spent time overseas. We don’t smoke.

        I do believe that much or possibly most poverty (sic) is the result of poor budgeting. How often do we see paupers on television who smoke. have huge televisons and, of course, have cars ? A man we know who has been involved with food parcels for years was asked if the recipients had anything in common. Yes-they all smoked.

        Reply
        • Missy

           /  28th July 2015

          Agree Kittycatkin, another factor are those that continue to have children despite not being able to afford the one’s they already have – which is why we need to cap welfare payments to only two children like the UK is doing.

          Reply
  4. kiwi_guy

     /  28th July 2015

    Actually having read through some of the think tanks report it turns out that their measurement includes debt, not just income. So the bigger the binge in private debt a nation indulges in the more their “material well being” increases.

    E.g. possession of a car, big house, gadgets and fine dining all on credit = a higher level of “material well being”:

    “Given the degree of variation in MWI [Material Wellbeing Inde] for countries with similar levels of GNI [Gross National Income] per capita, what
    additional information is captured by our framework? We find that the quality of national
    institutions which facilitate lending helps explain the variation between GNI per capita and
    MWI. This is a key result. Income varies considerably over an individual’s life-cycle, and standard ”

    Page 2 in:

    Click to access Motu-Note-21-Material-Wellbeing-of-NZ-Households.pdf

    Reply
  5. kiwi_guy

     /  28th July 2015

    The level of private debt in the global economy is at Armageddon levels, but if you look at the countries in the top of the list for “material well being” many of them have massive asset bubbles.

    Now THAT would make for some interesting further extrapolation.

    Reply
    • Missy

       /  28th July 2015

      And it will only get worse as the interest rates continue to go down, as the asset bubbles most likely won’t burst until interest rates start to increase.

      Reply

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