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Living standards determined by more than income

Press Release
Minister for Social Development and Employment

11 July 2006
For Immediate Release Media Statement

Research shows living standards determined by more than income

New Zealand Living Standards 2004 Report, released today by the Ministry of Social Development, shows that three in four New Zealanders report having a fairly comfortable to very good living standard.

Sustainable employment, education and assets, along with income, continue to be key to good living standards according to the research.

“The report shows that a number of key factors contribute to living standards,” Deputy Chief Executive of Social Development Policy and Knowledge, Marcel Lauzière, said.

“While income can certainly help improve our living standards, this research demonstrates the importance of sustained employment, higher levels of education, home ownership and other assets.

“People tend to have lower living standards if they have experienced events such as multiple marriage break-ups, financial or employment shocks, or serious health issues.

“These factors seem to have a cumulative effect. People with up to seven life shocks have a similar average living standard to those with no life shocks. Eight seems to be the turning point, leading to substantially lower average living standards and a high likelihood of hardship,” Marcel Lauzière, said.

The report identifies a drop in living standards since 2000 for some groups, particularly beneficiary families with children, large families, and people with low incomes or few assets.

The research was undertaken in early 2004, prior to the introduction of Working for Families.

“This research confirms the value of Working for Families in targeting New Zealanders whose living standards are under pressure,” Marcel Lauzière said. “We know that Working for Families has already addressed factors that contributed to the decrease in living standards, particularly for beneficiary families, and we expect to see the benefits in future research.

“The research shows that people on benefit have lower living standards than working people with comparable incomes. This confirms the importance of sustained work for wellbeing,” Marcel Lauzière said.


About the Living Standards Research
New Zealand Living Standards 2004: The Report


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