Local expressions of subjective wellbeing: The New Zealand experience
Philip S. Morrison
Victoria University of Wellington
Regional studies, vol. 45(8), p. 1039-1058, 2011
Using the results of the New Zealand Quality of Life survey 2004, the study examined the relationship between the twelve cities/districts surveyed (based on old council boundaries) and the subjective wellbeing measures of happiness, satisfaction, and quality of life. The survey consisted of 500 telephone interviews in each city/district, with demographic quotas to ensure a representative sample of each city/district. The cities/districts were from Auckland (5), Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington (3), Christchurch, and Dunedin. Controls were included for gender, age, ethnicity, health, education, work status, personal income, household type, and tenure (i.e. owning or renting).
Although the paper did not directly address loneliness, in New Zealand loneliness plays an important role in subjective wellbeing, which the paper addressed. "In a result supported by a growing number of international examples, the New Zealand data suggest that the growth of the largest and densest cities is associated with a relative lowering of the subjective well-being." In particular, Auckland City was found to have significantly poorer happiness scores and slightly lower life satisfaction scores than the other 11 cities; even though it is economically a stronger city. For quality of life, Auckland City was 9th of 12, due to the benefits of its geographic location (e.g. beaches, climate, etc.).
"The spatial disconnect between the financial rewards of concentration [in larger cities] and the non-material returns to life [of poorer subjective wellbeing] raises a number of questions about the net benefits of promoting further agglomeration [into larger cities]."