Social survey shows New Zealanders extremely satisfied with their lives
Kiwis are extremely happy people – particularly if they are over 65, have money in the bank, a postgraduate degree and a spare bedroom in their home.
The 2014 New Zealand General Social Survey, which surveyed 9000 people and was released today, showed just over 8 in 10 New Zealanders or 82.6 per cent, rated their overall life satisfaction at 7 or above.
Slightly more New Zealanders, 9 in 10 or 87.1 per cent, rated their sense of purpose highly.
But life satisfaction was largely dependant on four factors; health, money, relationships and housing situation.
Important stages in life, such as raising children, buying a home, entering and leaving the workforce, and the experience of ageing also influenced life satisfaction.
Phillip Walker of Statistics New Zealand said, while the majority of New Zealanders were happy with their lives, these factors played a big role in determining satisfaction and sense of purpose.
“It is clear that a handful of key factors point towards life satisfaction – finances, social connections, health and housing. If you have got those, you are likely to be doing ok,” he said. “On the other hand, people who are unemployed have lower levels of well-being.”
The biennial survey is used to measure the well-being of New Zealanders and provide a view of how well-being varies across different groups in the population.
It showed income played a particularly big role in satisfaction levels, a person’s sense of purpose and overall well-being.
The survey found only 78.3 per cent of people receiving $30,000 or less rated their satisfaction levels at 7 or above.
This is substantially lower than the 92.5 per cent of people receiving a personal income of $100,001 or more who rated their satisfaction as high.
Those who earned around $30,000 had a similarly lower sense of purpose than those who earned over $100,000. The study found a marked rise in both satisfaction and sense of purpose began at the $70,000 mark.
Relationships also played a big role. People living in couple families, with or without children, were found to have the highest self-rated well-being of all family types.
Sole parents, on the other hand, had a lower sense of purpose and overall life satisfaction.
According to Statistics New Zealand, “[Couple families] greater satisfaction and sense of purpose may be due to better access to social, economic, and emotional resources, and support from family members.”
Other factors such as education levels and ethnicity were also found to have a role.
The study found those who had attained a higher level of education were more satisfied with their lives.
Over 90 per cent of people with postgraduate qualifications rates their overall life satisfaction highly.
“Qualification level is a key determinant of the level of personal income. The more qualified a person is, the more likely they are to earn a higher income which could explain the relationship between higher education and overall life satisfaction,” said Statistics New Zealand.
Maori and Pacific people were found to be less likely to rate their satisfaction levels high compared with Europeans.
Just over three-quarters of Maori and Pacific peoples said they were satisfied with their lives compared with 84 per cent of Europeans who rated their satisfaction as high. Almost 90 per cent also said they felt a strong sense of purpose in the things they were doing.
Mr Walker described happiness, satisfaction and purpose as “a complex picture”.
“Without a doubt most New Zealanders say they are doing pretty well, have enough money, have good health, and see family and friends,” he said.
“There is a real variation out there but overall we can say that older people are more likely to be satisfied with their lives and to rate their sense of purpose highly. Maybe that is because they tend to be more financially secure, or have managed to achieve a good balance between work and play.”