Measuring wellbeing through shared prosperity

Monday 29 April 2019
The Government will soon present its first Wellbeing Budget. But a team at Massey University has developed an alternative way of measuring collective wellbeing.
Measuring wellbeing through shared prosperity - image1

The Shared Prosperity Index calculates how well, or poorly, different segments of society have benefited from New Zealand's growing economy. 

In one month the Government will present its first Wellbeing Budget, which will use a wellbeing framework to identify Budget priorities. This means looking beyond traditional measures, such as GDP, to define New Zealand’s success.

A multidisciplinary team of researchers at Massey University has also been tackling this issue. They have developed an index that calculates wellbeing and social progress through measuring how well, or poorly, different segments of society have benefited from New Zealand's growing economy. 

Project leader, Professor Christoph Schumacher from the School of Economics and Finance, will share initial insights from his team’s Shared Prosperity Index at the first Big Issues in Business event for 2019.

Profesor Christoph Schumacher.

The gap between the haves and have-nots

The Shared Prosperity Index uses eight dimensions in its calculations: income and wealth; employment; housing; health; deprivation; education; safety and security; and general inequality. The research team is currently building an online dashboard that will show how the country is performing across each of the eight dimensions, as well as an aggregate index for measuring New Zealand's overall shared prosperity over time.

“The index fundamentally measures the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’,” Professor Schumacher says. “It incorporates data from the early 1980s and our initial calculations show that sharing peaked in 1986, before diving during a period of sweeping reform and economic recession. 

“Sharing then improved, along with economic prosperity, from the late nineties until 2006. But, after that, it gradually decreased again and the steady economic growth since New Zealand recovered from the Global Financial Crisis has had little impact on the level of sharing.”

Professor Schumacher believes the index offers important insights into New Zealand’s collective wellbeing.

“In an economy that fairly shares its prosperity, people believe there is some possibility of social mobility, and that they have the opportunity to realise their potential,” he says. “If they don't believe this, and where they are surrounded by extreme inequalities, they are more likely to feel discontented and resentful.”

Event details

Professor Schumacher will speak at three events in Auckland, Wellington and Palmerston North. He will be joined by Tamati Shepherd, leader of PWC’s National Health and Wellbeing Practice. 

The events are part of the Massey Business School’s Big Issues in Business series, which brings research and practitioner insights together to address the big issues faced by businesses.

Auckland– May 1,  2019, 5.30-7pmMassey Business School Building, Massey University Auckland campus. Gate 1, Dairy Flat Highway (SH17), Albany.

Wellington– May 2, 2019, 5.30-7pmANZ Centre, Level 18, 171 Featherston St, Wellington

Palmerston North – May 3, 2019, 4-5.30pmThe Factory, 21 Dairy Farm Road, Palmerston North

For more information, or to register: