Sur­vey search­ing for how we all tick

South Waikato News - - NEWS/OPINION - By MARIKA HILL

Are you happy, so­cia­ble and en­joy­ing hang­ing out with fam­ily? Or is your sleep-de­prived and over­worked life­style mak­ing you mis­er­able?

In the first sur­vey of its kind in New Zealand, the en­tire na­tion is be­ing asked to tell all about life, hap­pi­ness and friend­ship.

The re­sults will cre­ate the Sov­er­eign Well­be­ing In­dex, to mea­sure how we feel about life.

Fol­low­ing a trend in other coun­tries, the sur­vey sig­nals a move away from rank­ing our­selves on GDP to look­ing at what makes us tick.

The on­line sur­vey has launched, with the re­sults out in Fe­bru­ary.

AUT Univer­sity pub­lic health pro­fes­sor Grant Schofield de­vel­oped the sur­vey to un­der­stand what brings out the best in our lives and said it could fi­nally an­swer the ageold ques­tion of whether an in­creas­ing gap be­tween rich and poor was im­pact­ing on our lives.

“That’s one of the big­gest pre­dic­tors of how well a coun­try is do­ing.”

Nations with the great­est fi­nan­cial dis­par­ity, such as the United States and Bri­tain, tended to rate lowly in well­be­ing, while Scan­di­na­vian coun­ties with greater fi­nan­cial equal­ity ranked highly.

Schofield said New Zealand would prob­a­bly fall be­tween the two ex­tremes, be­cause while the gap was widen­ing, our small pop­u­la­tion might work in our favour.

‘‘One of the big pre­dic­tors is how much you con­nect with other peo­ple – fam­ily and friends. You would think New Zealand would do well on that.’’

Sov­er­eign chief ex­ec­u­tive Charles An­der­son said our out­go­ing at­ti­tude and will­ing­ness to vol­un­teer was also a strength.

‘‘The Kiwi psy­che is be­ing out­doors and ac­tive.’’

He said he hoped the sur­vey would spark de­bate on what well­be­ing meant to New Zealand.

AUT psy­chol­ogy lec­turer Dr Aaron Jar­den, who also worked on the sur­vey, said each cul­ture had a dif­fer­ent def­i­ni­tion of well­be­ing but good friend­ships and hope for the fu­ture meant high rat­ings.

The in­dex aims to al­low com­par­i­son be­tween New Zealand and other coun­tries re­gard­ing re­la­tion­ships, life­style and qual­ity of life, so Gov­ern­ment fund­ing could be tar­geted to ar­eas of low well­be­ing.

The Sov­er­eign Well­be­ing In­dex will take place bi­en­ni­ally for six years, to un­der­stand if well­be­ing is ris­ing or fall­ing. A web­site ad­dress for the on­line sur­vey will be an­nounced on Tues­day.

Sov­er­eign has also an­nounced it will spon­sor Youth­line, which pro­vides a 24-hour helpline field­ing more than 15,000 con­tacts a month.

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