Subjective Wellbeing

Family wellbeing

Family wellbeing builds on the concept of individual wellbeing and considers the family as a social unit or system, interacting internally with its individual members, and externally with the community and wider society [28-30]. Having high levels of family wellbeing can positively affect most dimensions of people’s lives [29]. Concepts of family wellbeing are also shaped by cultural perspectives and values, for example, ‘whānau wellbeing’ may be framed from within te ao Māori (the Māori world view) [31]. Cultural identity may therefore uniquely define both family and wellbeing.

While there is no single definition of family wellbeing or consensus about the best way to measure it, two main approaches are commonly applied. One approach frames family wellbeing as the sum of the different types of wellbeing among the members of a family (where different wellbeing aspects are measured separately, then added together) [29]. The other approach considers the wellbeing of the family as a whole entity (a broader subjective assessment of how well families are doing overall) [32-34]. Studies that use the global approach often use a single-item question/measure [29]. The single-item approach to measuring family wellbeing was first employed in New Zealand within the Te Kupenga 2013 survey of Māori wellbeing [35], and subsequently in the New Zealand General Social Survey from 2016 [36].

This indicator presents the proportion of respondents to the New Zealand General Social Survey who answered the question "how would you rate how your family is doing these days?" at seven or above, on a zero to ten scale, where zero means extremely badly and ten means extremely well.

The figure shows that a similar proportion of Canterbury and New Zealand respondents scored their family wellbeing as 7-10 out of 10 in the 2016 and 2018 New Zealand General Social Surveys. However, the 2021 result indicates that the proportion for Canterbury respondents had increased (from 82.6% in 2018 to 87.4% in 2021) and become notably higher than the proportion for New Zealand overall (82.6% in 2021). It is not known whether this difference is statistically significant.

Data Sources

Source: Statistics New Zealand.
Survey/data set: New Zealand General Social Survey to 2021. Access publicly available data from the Statistics New Zealand website:
Source data frequency: Every 2 years.

View technical notes and data tables for this indicator.

Updated: 31/08/2023