Population with low incomes

Negative change

Since 1988, the proportion of the population in households with low incomes has increased

  • Image, economic hardship
    • In 2015, the proportion of the population with household disposable incomes below 60 and 50 percent of median income was 18 and 10 percent, respectively.
    • The proportion of the population with low household disposable incomes increased steadily from 1998 to a peak in 2004.

      

    View source data

    The source data for this indicator is available from Household incomes in New Zealand: Trends in indicators of inequality and hardship 1982 to 2015 on the Ministry of Social Development website.

    Definition and measure

    People in households with low incomes may have more difficulty meeting their material and non-material needs and experience economic hardship. Having insufficient economic resources limits people’s ability to participate in and belong to their community and wider society, which restricts their quality of life.

    This indicator uses income thresholds to define the proportion of the population with low incomes. Incomes are before housing costs, and after adjusting for household size and composition. The thresholds used are set at 50 and 60 percent of median household disposable income from each Household Economic Survey.

    Technical changes since 2010

    Population with low incomes replaces the economic hardship indicator used in Key findings on New Zealand's progress using a sustainable development approach: 2010.

    This indicator uses a moving line approach that sets the income thresholds as a proportion of median income from each Household Economic Survey. This provides a consistent time series with the 50 and 60 percent thresholds offering a comprehensive measure of the proportion of the population with low incomes.

    Previously, a constant value approach was used that set a threshold at 60 percent of 2007 median household disposable income after housing costs. The threshold was adjusted for inflation to keep it fixed in real terms. Once the threshold moved too far from the original relative settings, the reference year had to be changed. This resulted in a discontinuity in the series.

    A line graph replaces the column graph previously used in Key findings on New Zealand's progress using a sustainable development approach: 2010, to make it easier to interpret the trend. 
     

    Previous publications

    Key findings on New Zealand's progress using a sustainable development approach: 2010
    Measuring New Zealand's progress using a sustainable development approach: 2008
    Key findings on New Zealand's progress using a sustainable development approach: 2008

    Page updated September 2016

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