Study reveals startling new data on wellbeing – or the lack of it – in NZ

New Zealand, isolated in more ways than one.

On the day that the NZ Government launched a fresh campaign to rob beneficiaries of their basic human rights (further evidence of the runaway poverty gap the country suffers from) Sovereign life insurance has issued a press release showing that New Zealand fares badly in international standards of wellbeing.

In comparison to 22 European countries using the same set of measurements, New Zealand consistently ranked near the bottom in personal and social wellbeing – far behind the Scandinavian countries in the lead.

Among the most surprising results were New Zealanders’ disconnectedness from their communities (this sent them to the bottom of the table) and nearly two thirds of young people showing signs of depressed mood. Last year Sovereign announced it was to sponsor Youthline, which provides a 24-hour helpline that fields more than 15,000 contacts a month from young people needing support for issues from bullying to loneliness. It subsequently provided much of a $100,000 contribution to the organisation in May.

You can Read the full report here. We predict it will be some time before it makes it into the mainstream media. Let us know if you see it reported on.

According to Sovereign’s website

The index includes questions from the Personal and Social Wellbeing module of the European Social Survey (ESS). The ESS has already been used in more than 25 countries. Comparing the results of the Sovereign Wellbeing Index and the ESS will show how New Zealand is doing compared to other countries.

One of the key features of the Sovereign Wellbeing Index is that it will track changes in wellbeing over time. Benchmark measurements will be taken during September 2012, 2014 and 2016. More than 10,000 New Zealand adults (aged 18 and over), representing New Zealand’s diverse population, have been invited to take part in the research.

Here’s the press release.

 Study reveals startling new data on wellbeing in NZ
Monday, 15 July 2013,  8:54 am  Press Release: Sovereign

Results released of inaugural Sovereign Wellbeing Index

Study reveals startling new data on wellbeing – and the lack of it – in New Zealand

“Older, female and financially stable New Zealanders have the highest wellbeing in New Zealand, a groundbreaking new social index has revealed.

And although the inaugural Sovereign Wellbeing Index shows that the wellbeing of New Zealanders is startlingly low compared with other countries, it confirms that five free and simple habits can boost our individual wellbeing.

The index was developed by AUT University’s Human Potential Centre in partnership with Sovereign as an alternative to measuring a country’s success through economic indicators such as GDP.

It’s the first national representation of how New Zealanders are faring on a personal and social level, and was created with the vision of helping to frame personal choices and public policy and action in New Zealand. Nearly 10,000 New Zealand adults were surveyed for the index.

 “Our success as a nation and individually is not just about having money in the bank,” says study leader Grant Schofield, professor of public health at AUT University.

“A good GDP is great, but it’s a means to an end. That end result is wellbeing. The challenge is to enable a society where people lead purposeful and meaningful lives.”

Sovereign CEO Symon Brewis-Weston says the company chose to support New Zealand’s first wellbeing index because it wanted to better understand the challenges and opportunities the country faces in the area of health and wellbeing.

“We’re proud to be part of such a significant and worthwhile project, and one with relevance not only to ourselves as a life insurance provider, but to the nation as a whole. The health and wellbeing of New Zealanders has a direct impact on Sovereign as a business and also the communities in which we all live.

“This report challenges the traditional definition of ‘wellbeing’ and will provide new and valuable insight into how we really feel about ourselves and our lives.”

Professor Schofield says wellbeing encompasses more than simply happiness. “It’s a measurement of how well we’re feeling and functioning in our lives – psychologically, physically and socially.”

There was good news for older, female and wealthier New Zealanders – these groups were the most likely to be “flourishing” (having higher levels of wellbeing), with people in their seventies thriving more than any other age group.

The study found that people’s wellbeing tended to increase with income, but it also confirmed that five free actions (Five Winning Ways) contributed to higher wellbeing:

1. socially connecting with others;

2. giving time and resources to others;

3. appreciating and taking notice of our surroundings;

4. learning new things;

5. being physically active.

Those with “Super Wellbeing” – scoring in the top 25 per cent in wellbeing indicators – were also likely to have better general health, be non-smokers and exercisers, and have healthier diets and weights.

One of the most striking – and concerning – results was New Zealand’s low placing in international wellbeing rankings. When compared with surveys of 22 European countries using the same set of measurements, New Zealand consistently ranked near the bottom in personal and social wellbeing – far behind the Scandinavian countries in the lead.

We were fourth from the bottom in the overall wellbeing rankings, ahead of only Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ukraine. Norway, Switzerland and Denmark took the top three rankings respectively.

Our worst comparative result was in connecting within our communities – only a quarter of us felt close to people in our local area, sending us to the very bottom of the table.

“It was a huge surprise to see New Zealand ranking so low,” says Professor Schofield. “I hadn’t expected New Zealand to be the best, but I hadn’t expected we’d do as badly as we did. I think it comes down to our comparative lack of social connectedness and the fact that the gap is growing between the haves and the have-nots. We’re not the even and fair society we once thought we were.

“We need to start having discussions about the New Zealand we want to be, and how we can start to achieve that.”

The index is drawn from an AUT survey last year of 9962 randomly selected New Zealanders aged 18 and older. It will continue to monitor the wellbeing of New Zealanders, and benchmark with the European results, over the next four years.

Every New Zealander now has the chance to see ‘how well they are living’ by taking the wellbeing quiz on www.sovereign.co.nz/mywellbeing

ENDS

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3 thoughts on “Study reveals startling new data on wellbeing – or the lack of it – in NZ

  1. “Our worst comparative result was in connecting within our communities – only a quarter of us felt close to people in our local area, sending us to the very bottom of the table.”

    Hmmm. So New Zealand is one of the most unfriendly countries in the survey, where people have no sense of community and don’t have anything to do with each other.

    Kind of destroys the myth that New Zealand is a friendly place doesn’t it.

  2. But I thought New Zealand was always at the top in happiness, Lifestyle, transparency, honesty, sportiness, beauty, gag gag blah blah blah. What is this strange study?

  3. nearly two thirds of young people showing signs of
    depressed mood.
    In my experience: I must have run into
    that one thirds who were consistently overpromising and
    underdelivering along with heapin’ helpings of “harden the fxxk up”
    “Asians have no problems” and “gooks go home”. On the other hand
    the people who were consistently genuinely supportive of others
    regardless of race were discriminated against or
    treated as social outcasts. Not to worry, that whole attitude of
    “I’m alright Jack!” is due for a shocking change soon, if more of
    these kinds of uncomfortable findings see the light of
    day.

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