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New Zealanders believe life is getting harder


30 April 2008


Two-thirds of New Zealanders believe life is getting harder


Child abuse, environment and cost of living top list of concerns
Survey finds teens more concerned about cancer than climate change
Only a third of New Zealanders have Income Protection Insurance, but majority are concerned about it
Very few New Zealanders concerned about Rugby World Cup

Most New Zealanders believe every day life in this country is getting harder, according to a new survey.

The ‘State of the Nation’ survey commissioned by CIGNA Life Insurance interviewed 1000 New Zealanders over 15 years of age to find out what we are feeling about life in general. By the looks of things, we’re feeling a bit gloomy.

64 percent of respondents said they thought life in New Zealand is getting harder, compared to just 9 per cent who think life is getting easier. The 40 - 49 year-old age group was the most concerned, with 76 percent saying life was harder.

The survey asked New Zealanders about their levels of concerns on a range of issues, including everything from child abuse, climate change and the cost of living, to housing affordability, getting cancer, talk of a recession and whether Eden Park will be ready in time for the Rugby World Cup in 2011.  

Child abuse topped the list as the number one concern for New Zealanders across all ages (94%), followed by the environment (91%) and the cost of living (86%).

However, while the survey showed similar concerns across all ages, it revealed some surprising differences in the levels of concern on different issues felt by the different age groups.

Overall, middle-aged people are more down about life in New Zealand than teenagers, and yet the teenagers interviewed were far more concerned about getting cancer than people three times their age (83% to 52%).

It also appears that teenagers are the age group least concerned with climate change, compared to older groups (53% to 97%).

Dr Niki Harre, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Auckland University says that it’s understandable that young people are generally more concerned about getting cancer than climate change.

“Being a teenager is necessarily egocentric, as it is a time of working out one’s personal identity, career, sexuality and establishing oneself in society,” says Dr Harre.

“Although teens might accept their lower likelihood of getting cancer, they can be overwhelmed by the thought of how bad it would be if they did get it. The longer people live, the more accepting they are that their own personal existence is finite. As we age we become increasingly concerned about what legacy we will leave,” says Dr Harre.  

As a corollary to these findings, the survey showed that half of all the 15-19 year-olds polled plan to get life insurance products in the future.

CIGNA New Zealand CEO, Gail Costa, says that the company was pleasantly surprised by the level of perceived value in life insurance held by the Generation Y market.

“We recognise that what we may think sitting in a head office building in Wellington can be quite different to what our customers are thinking,” says Ms Costa.

Ms Costa says the Colmar Brunton survey was conducted by CIGNA earlier this year to help the company understand the mood of New Zealanders and assist them in tailoring insurance products to the market. It is the first of what will be a regular annual snapshot of the country by the company

The survey also showed that, while 70% of New Zealanders are concerned about protecting their income and standard of living if they were off work due to sickness or accident, only 33% said they have Income Protection insurance 

“Protecting your income is quite rightly a genuine concern.  We often think about providing for our loved ones when we pass away, but just as important is protecting our income while we’re living,” says Ms Costa.

“Our survey confirms that this concern is very real, but that there is a mismatch between that concern and taking action to address it.

“Across most kinds of life insurance New Zealanders as a whole are under insured, but this is particularly true when it comes to things like Income Protection and specialist insurances like Cancer or Funeral Cover,” says Ms Costa.

 Other interesting findings from the survey:

More New Zealanders are very concerned about the security of their personal information than they are about climate change (46% to 26%)
69 percent of us are quite concerned about the impact that text language is having on the literacy of youth
60 percent of us are concerned about rumours of an upcoming recession, while half of us are concerned about the security of our money in the wake of recent finance company collapses

Dr Harre believes that while New Zealanders may be recognizing that life is getting harder, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re a nation of pessimists.

“Admitting that life is getting harder can be a personal impetus to get on with doing things to improve the situation,” she says.

And what are New Zealanders least worried about according to this survey?

63 percent of us are not at all concerned about Robbie Deans coaching Australia in the upcoming Tri-Nations rugby series. Similarly, three quarters of us are not concerned that Eden Park won’t be finished in time for the World Cup in 2011.


The CIGNA State of the Nation Survey will be run again early next year.


The Top Ten (% either ‘Very’ or ‘Quite’ concerned)

1.      Child abuse (94%)

2.      Protecting the environment (91%)

3.      Cost of living (86%)

4.      Security of personal information (84%)

5.      Housing affordability (74%)

6.      Income protection due to accident or illness (70%)

7.      Climate change (67%)

8.      Saving for retirement (66%)

9.      Getting cancer (65%)

10.  Providing for family in the event of death (63%)




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