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indicator value unit
Population 4.4 mil.
Visitors per year 2.5 mil.
Renewable energy 36.47 %

How’s Life?

New Zealand performs well in many measures of well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in a large number of topics in the Better Life Index.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In New-Zealand, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 21 773 USD a year, less than the OECD average of 23 938 USD a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn five times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, 72% of people aged 15 to 64 in New-Zealand have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 65%. Some 78% of men are in paid work, compared with 67% of women. People in New-Zealand work 1 739 hours a year, slightly less than the OECD average of 1 765 hours. Another key measure, however, is how many people work very long hours. Around 13% of employees work very long hours, more than the OECD average of 9%, with 19% of men working very long hours compared with 7% for women.

Having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job. In New-Zealand, 74% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, close to the OECD average of 75%. This is slightly truer of men than women, as 75% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 73% of women. In terms of the quality of its educational system, the average student scored 509 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This score is higher than the OECD average of 497. On average in New-Zealand, girls outperformed boys by 5 points, lower than the average OECD gap of 8 points. 

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in New-Zealand is 81 years, one year higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 83 years, compared with 79 for men. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs –is 10.8 micrograms per cubic meter, considerably lower than the OECD average of 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter. New-Zealand also does well in terms of water quality, as 89% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, higher than the OECD average of 84%.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and high levels of civic participation in New-Zealand, where 96% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, higher than the OECD average of 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 74% during recent elections, higher than the OECD average of 72%. Voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 81%, whereas the participation rate of the bottom 20% is an estimated 75%. This 6 percentage point difference is lower than the OECD average difference of 11 percentage points, and suggests there is broad social inclusion in New Zealand’s democratic institutions.

In general, 85% of people in New-Zealand say they have more positive experiences in an average day (feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment, etc.) than negative ones (pain, worry, sadness, boredom, etc.), more than OECD average of 76%.

For more information on estimates and years of reference, see FAQ section and BLI database.


OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys: New Zealand 2013

OECD's 2013 Economic Survey of New Zealand examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. This issue features special chapters on school to work transition and long-term growth.

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New Zealand in Detail