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Sources of personal income

In the 2013 Census, people were asked to state their sources of income for the year ending 5 March 2013. Many people recorded more than one source of income and were counted in each category they recorded. Note that each source of income is recorded if the person reported receiving that source of income at any time in the previous 12 months.

NZ superannuation or veterans pension now third most common personal income source

In the 2013 Census, 'New Zealand superannuation or veterans pension' overtook 'self-employment or business' as the third most common reported source of personal income in New Zealand.

The most common source of personal income continued to be 'wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, etc', which decreased to 57.7 percent of adults in 2013, down from 59.9 percent in 2006.The second most common source of personal income was 'interest, dividends, rent, and other investments'.

The only sources of personal income to experience an increase between 2006 and 2013 were 'NZ superannuation or veterans pension' (2.0 percentage point increase) and 'other government transfers' (0.9 percentage point increase).

Selected sources of personal income(1)
2001, 2006, and 2013 Censuses 
Income source 

Percentage of adult population receiving source 

2001 Census

2006 Census 

2013 Census 

Wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, etc 




Self-employment or business 




Interest, dividends, rent, other investments 




Payments from a work accident insurer




NZ superannuation or veterans pension 




Other super., pensions, annuities 




Other government transfers(2) 




Other sources of income 




No source of income during that time 




1. Includes all people who stated each source of personal income, whether as their only source or as one of several. Where a person reported more than one source of personal income, they have been counted in each applicable group. Therefore totals will not add up to 100.

2. Comprises unemployment benefit, sickness benefit, domestic purposes benefit, invalids benefit, student allowance, and other government benefits, payments, or pensions. In the calculation of government transfers, a person’s response was recorded only once if they received government transfers from multiple sources.

Source: Statistics New Zealand 

Sources of income counts from census and the Household Economic Survey (HES)

As census is not the only source of income data provided by Statistics NZ, we have provided a comparison between the 2013 Census sources of income counts and the Household Economic Survey: Year ended 30 June 2013.

HES and census match fairly well, especially for 'wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, etc' and 'NZ superannuation or veterans pension'. HES reports more people receiving investments, other government benefits, and other sources of income. This may be because with the HES, interviewers work with respondents to identify all income sources, but in the census, income is self-reported. See Definitions and information about the data for details.

Graph, Comparison of Household Economic Survey (HES) and census, for selected sources of personal income, 2013 Census and 2012/13 HES.

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