Kiwi wellbeing holds up in face of lockdown; extends dominance over Australia

The latest Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) Wellbeing Report as demonstrated the resilience of New Zealand’s wellbeing, having remained at the same levels as it was at the end of 2019, despite the impacts of COVID-19, a strict lockdown response and increasing economic uncertainty.

New Zealand usually scores higher wellbeing than Australia and the latest survey results show a widening gap, despite Australia’s comparatively softer lockdown.

BNZ Economist and report author, Paul Conway, says, “COVID-19 is causing havoc, with both serious health and economic impacts that are reducing wellbeing in some countries, but not New Zealand.

“Although concerns around our economy and job insecurity increased, health concerns were not particularly elevated and New Zealand’s wellbeing held firm, rising 0.4 points to 67.3.”

He adds, “We’ve said it before and it is worth mentioning here again, Kiwis are a resilient bunch and typically glass half full.”

Conway says this growth when compared to other countries suggests New Zealanders may have felt a measure of reassurance from the Government’s response to COVID-19.

“The survey shows that at this point in time New Zealanders are generally satisfied with the Government’s actions with 80 per cent of New Zealanders rating the government’s response to the health crisis seven out of ten or higher.”

New Zealand up as Australia falls

The figures show a widening gap in trans-Tasman wellbeing, up to 4.5 points compared to 2.6 points at the end of last year, as wellbeing in Australia declining despite comparisons being made around the effectiveness of each of the country’s responses to COVID-19.

“The widening wellbeing gap, however, hides a productivity gap in Australia’s favour that we need to address.

“The lockdown has shown us the importance of our businesses being digitally savvy. We need to capitalise on this to grow and develop our economy and to make it more inclusive. Lifting digital skills across New Zealand is an important part of that puzzle,” says Conway.

Uncertain outlook

Although Kiwi wellbeing has held up, the pandemic is taking a toll on people’s finances, with a clear impact on savings levels and people’s worries about the future rising.

“In BNZ’s previous Wellbeing Survey, a net 12 per cent of respondents reported their incomes had increased in the six months prior to the Survey. In our most recent Survey, that number fell to -10 per cent, with 71 per cent of people who suffered a fall in income attributing it to COVID-19.

“Savings and debt in the previous six months also turned more negative, with COVID-19 again featuring prominently.

“Over the coming year, expectations of net increases in incomes and savings have both fallen substantially, primarily as a result of the pandemic” says Conway.

Click here for the full BNZ Wellbeing Report H1 2020.