New Zealanders spend more of their income on housing than any
other developed country in the OECD apart from heavily
indebted Greece, a new report reveals.
And although income disparities have decreased slightly,
household disposable incomes in New Zealand remain below the
The findings are part of the OECD's biennial wellbeing report
- titled How's Life? - which ranks the group's 34
countries across 11 indicators.
The report, released today, shows the cost of housing as a
proportion of income in New Zealand is the second-highest in
the OECD, with 26 per cent of the average household's income
going towards housing.
Housing costs include rent, mortgage payments, power, water,
gas and maintenance costs.
New Zealand was topped only by Greece, whose economy has been
hit hard by the global financial crisis and a huge sovereign
debt burden. There, 27 per cent of incomes go towards
The report also found that despite New Zealand having the
seventh highest employment rate, the average household's
disposable income was below the OECD average.
There was some good news, however, with the report finding
income disparities in New Zealand had decreased slightly.
And when it comes to overall wellbeing, New Zealand was among
the best-performing countries in the OECD. New Zealand was
ranked among high-performers including Switzerland,
Australia, Canada, the UK and the Nordic countries.
The country also outranked average performers for overall
wellbeing - including the United States, South Korea, Japan,
Germany and France - and low performers including Turkey and
Wellbeing was determined by indicators including income and
wealth, job availability and earnings, housing conditions,
health, work-life balance, education and skills, social
connections, civic engagement and governance, environmental
quality, personal security and subjective wellbeing.
Kiwis have relatively equal distribution when it comes life
satisfaction, according the report - but happiness has been
in decline since the global financial crisis hit, with
average life satisfaction falling by 5 per cent in the four
years to 2012.
The report said that could be due to factors other than the
economy, citing New Zealand's recent earthquakes.
New Zealanders did well in terms of health, with almost 90
per cent reporting they were in good or very good health.
New Zealand also had the second-lowest difference in
self-reported health status between socio-economic groups out
of all OECD countries.
The gender divide in both life expectancy and health was
comparatively narrow, and women and men were nearly equally
represented amongst the unemployed.
The report noted the gender pay gap was narrowing - but men
were more likely than women to be satisfied with their job.
The mission of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) is to promote policies that improve the
economic and social well-being of people around the world.