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Meeting needs – How well do we live?

Unemployment rate

The result is opposite to the target trend (away from sustainable development).  Annual rate has increased compared with 1987.

As well as providing income, employment has a positive impact on individual satisfaction and happiness. It also increases participation in society and the productive capacity of the economy. Unemployment increases the risk of poverty and consequent social exclusion.

Graph, Annual unemployment rate 1987–2009.  

  • After peaking at 10.6 percent in 1992 and at 7.7 percent in 1998, the unemployment rate fell to a 20-year low of 3.7 percent in 2007.
  • With declining economic activity throughout 2008, there was an increase in unemployment. The annual rate at December 2008 was 4.2 percent, rising to 6.1 percent in December 2009.

Because there are always new people entering the labour force and others changing jobs, there is always some level of unemployment. Therefore, the unemployment rate is not expected to ever fall to zero.

Disposable income

The result is in line with the target trend (towards sustainable development).  Average income steadily increased between 1992 and 2006 but has been flat since then.

Disposable income as defined by real gross national disposable income (RGNDI) per person measures the average income available to New Zealanders.  A nation with a rising RGNDI per person will have a greater capacity to deliver a better quality of life and standard of living to the population.

Graph, Real gross national disposable income per person 1988–2010.

  • New Zealand’s RGNDI per person increased 31 percent between 1988 and 2010.
  • After falls in 1991 and 1992, the level of increase was fairly constant until 2006. Since then it has been relatively flat.

Health expectancy

The result is in line with the target trend (towards sustainable development).  Between 1996 and 2006, health expectancy at birth increased.

A good standard of health contributes to quality of life and enables people to participate in society and the economy. Health expectancy is an estimate of the average number of years a person will live without requiring assistance with everyday activities.

Graph, Health expectancy at birth by sex 1996, 2001, and 2006.

  • Health expectancy at birth increased steadily for all females between 1996 and 2006, from 67.5 years to 69.2 years.
  • Health expectancy for all males increased over the same period, from 64.7 years to 67.4 years, closing the gender gap most rapidly between 2001 and 2006.
  • No new data is available for this indicator. However, changes in health expectancy occur over long timeframes.

Physical safety

The result is in line with the target trend (towards sustainable development).  Between 1987 and 2007, the rate of death from assault per 100,000 people decreased.

Safety and security affect people’s well-being, and their ability and desire to interact with others and to take part in social and economic life. Death from assault represents the extreme end of violent offences. People’s perceptions of crime are also important and can differ from actual levels of crime.

Graph, Rate of death from assault 1987–2007.

  • Between 1987 and 2007, the overall trend for the rate of death from assault decreased 24 percent.
  • The rate of death fluctuated over the period, peaking in the early 1990s.
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