Shaw launches wellbeing indicator work

Statistics Minister James Shaw announced the beginning of work on the Government's long-awaited set of wellbeing indicators today. Photo: Lynn Grieveson.

The Government has inched closer to its first Wellbeing Budget, with the launch of work on new wellbeing measures.

On Tuesday morning, Statistics Minister James Shaw formally announced the beginning of work by Statistics NZ on the Indicators Aotearoa New Zealand project.

The work will integrate with Treasury’s "Four Capitals" project, begun in 2011, to form the backbone of Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s first Wellbeing Budget, due to be delivered next year.

Shaw's announcement fits into a broader global trend of moving economic performance away from traditional measurements like GDP, first initiated a decade ago when the French Government commissioned economists Joseph Stiglitz, Amartya Sen and Jean-Paul Fitoussi to investigate economic measurements.

Some of the indicators will be familiar, like GDP, but others will be new. These could potentially include things like life satisfaction, health, fish stocks, and waste.

Statistics NZ aims to develop 110 indicators, specifically 20 to 25 core measures to provide a “broad” overview of progress and 80 to 90 “second-tier” indicators which provide more detailed information.

Shaw said the indicators would measure the “here and now, later, and elsewhere”, to capture not just the current state of the country, but how indicators like fish stocks are tracking in the future and whether our actions have impacts on nations outside our borders.

The indicators will be publicly available on a dashboard for people to track the country’s performance. The first set will be available online by the end of the year, with the final set due in early 2019.

Statistics NZ is undertaking public consultation until September on what New Zealanders believe should be included in the indicators.