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Understanding Social Inequality In NZ

Researchers at the Christchurch School of Medicine are working with colleagues in Wellington and Auckland on a new way to measure health and social well-being among New Zealanders.

Leader of the project, Professor Peter Davis, said the research will improve the way we measure people's socio-economic status by looking at gender, ethnic group and social class.

"Currently the main method for describing the socio-economic position of individuals is the New Zealand Socio-Economic Index (NZSEI)," said Professor Davis.

"This has proved to be a very effective method for describing the socio-economic status of those in full-time employment, but it is not so useful for people who are not in full-time work. Our study will help fill in the gaps."

The research, an investment of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, has been using figures from the 1996 Census and the Household Economic Survey to describe the socio-economic position of farmers and the self-employed together with those people who do not work full-time.

"By filling in some of these gaps the NZSEI can be used more broadly by researchers and policy analysts to describe socio-economic inequality and its effects upon New Zealanders," said Professor Davis.

The research team is using the NZSEI to analyse existing information from the Census and the New Zealand Health Survey, as well as other research. This will highlight any differences in health and well-being for individuals throughout New Zealand.

Once this project is completed the NZSEI will be made available to the public. The research team intends the extended NZSEI to be a key research tool for the study and monitoring of social inequality and its effects on New Zealanders.

For further information:

Professor Peter Davis, Department of Public Health and General Practice, Christchurch School of Medicine, Tel 03 3640631

Madeleine Setchell Communications Adviser Foundation for Research, Science and Technology PO Box 12-240, Wellington Tel 04 9177806 Mobile 025 40 60 40

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