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Have Your Say on Living Standards Indicators for New Zealand

Press Release – New Zealand Treasury

The Treasury is encouraging people to have their say on ways to measure the living standards of current and future New Zealanders.Have Your Say on Living Standards Indicators for New Zealand
The Treasury is encouraging people to have their say on ways to measure the living standards of current and future New Zealanders.

Today the Treasury released an independent report, Treasury Living Standards Dashboard: Monitoring Intergenerational Wellbeing, which it commissioned from wellbeing expert Conal Smith of Kōtātā Insight. The report includes a proposed ‘dashboard’ covering a range of elements and specific indicators of living standards and intergenerational wellbeing in New Zealand.

The Treasury’s Chief Economic Adviser Tim Ng says it is putting out the report for public consultation so people can consider the proposed Living Standards Dashboard and contribute their own views and knowledge.

“Conal Smith has prepared a world-class report that draws on international and local evidence and expertise. While this independent report does not represent Government policy or Treasury advice, the work provides a strong foundation for discussion and generating well-informed feedback,” Tim Ng says.

“Public consultation on the report and its proposed Living Standards Dashboard is very important to the Treasury. It will help ensure the Dashboard we are releasing at the end of 2018 is expert, evidence-based, and reflects the perspectives of a wide range of New Zealanders.

“We have an eight-week consultation period from 7 June to 31 July and we encourage people to get more information from the Treasury website at Living Standards Dashboard Proposal Survey. You can make a submission directly on our website or you can email it to us at”

Tim Ng says the consultation is happening in parallel with a broad programme of other Living Standards Framework work.

“We are consulting on the report as part of our work-in-progress. Some elements of the Treasury’s Living Standards Framework are not yet fully developed. The report acknowledges there are still gaps in knowledge and indicators, including te ao Māori perspectives, but there is wider work underway to address these gaps.

“As an example, Te Puni Kōkiri is working on Māori perspectives on living standards and wellbeing, and a discussion paper on this will be published in mid-2018.

“Other discussion papers coming out in July will cover topics such as risk and resilience, Pacific Peoples’ wellbeing, and physical and financial capital. The Treasury will also continue to discuss progress on its Living Standards Framework work at several forums including the International Conference on Wellbeing and Public Policy in Wellington in September.

“All of this broader work-in-progress and our consultation is feeding into the development of a Dashboard by the end of the year. The Living Standards Dashboard itself will evolve over time as our level of knowledge and the availability of data improves.

“Creating a Dashboard to capture every measure relevant to living standards is neither achievable nor desirable. Instead, the Treasury’s focus unapologetically pragmatic: our aim is to have a practical set of meaningful indicators to inform policy and contribute towards higher living standards for New Zealand.”

At the same time as the Treasury’s consultation on the Dashboard proposal, Stats NZ is undertaking engagement to populate ‘Indicators Aotearoa’. Indicators Aotearoa will be a comprehensive suite of economic, social, environmental and cultural indicators. It is intended to support a broad scope of New Zealand’s monitoring and reporting requirements both domestically and to meet our international obligations, and to serve a range of public and private sector stakeholders. It is expected that the Living Standards Dashboard will be mostly or entirely a subset of Indicators Aotearoa, with an explicit focus on supporting domestic policy prioritisation and development. Stats NZ and the Treasury are well linked-up with these closely-related pieces of work and are encouraging people to get involved in one or more of these engagement opportunities.
Abstract of the report “Treasury Living Standards Dashboard: Monitoring Intergenerational Wellbeing” by Conal Smith, Kōtātā Insight

The vision of the New Zealand Treasury is to promote higher living standards for all New Zealanders. To support this, the Treasury uses the Living Standards Framework to guide its policy advice. In 2017, the Living Standards Framework underwent a major “refresh” to focus it on the four capital stocks (physical and financial capital, natural capital, human capital and social capital) that form the resource base for intergenerational wellbeing. In order to usefully inform policy advice and strategic planning, the Living Standards Framework needs to be more than just a conceptual tool. It will be necessary to develop measures that can provide meaningful information on intergenerational wellbeing to complement existing fiscal and economic measures.

This report develops a proposed Living Standards Dashboard to support the application of the Living Standards Framework to policy issues. In particular, it sets out a view of the economics underpinning the Living Standards Framework and outlines an agenda for applying the Living Standards Framework to inform Treasury’s policy analysis. As with the System of National Accounts, there is value in having the Living Standards Framework grounded in a coherent economic model that can help identify and define the key concepts that will need to be measured. These include current wellbeing, the capital stocks that form the productive resources used to produce wellbeing, as well as New Zealand’s net claims on the rest of the world and productivity. In all cases, both the level, change, distribution, and stability of outcomes are of importance.

The report sets out a starting list of indicators capturing these key concepts and identifies available data sources as well as data gaps. The OECD How’s Life? Framework is used as a reference point for the proposed Dashboard’s international comparability, but relevance to New Zealand is also a core focus and this is reflected both in the elements of wellbeing that are measured and the choice of specific indicators and data sources. The report concludes with a proposal for reporting the indicators and recommendations for future development. To help manage the trade-off between breadth and depth of coverage, the report recommends a tiered approach for the Dashboard with different “cuts” depending on the context.

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