Morrison, Philip S.
July 2007
Social Policy Journal of New Zealand;Jul2007, Issue 31, p74
Academic Journal
The Quality of Life surveys administered biennially in New Zealand provide an opportunity to estimate the contribution different places make to our happiness, satisfaction and quality of life. While the greater part of the variance in our responses to subjective wellbeing questions is typically due to our health, age, employment status, income, family and household relationships, the particular city in which we live may also contribute to our wellbeing. How we measure that contribution, its magnitude and its source, is of considerable interest both conceptually and to local authorities seeking to improve the social wellbeing of their residents. This paper presents the results of an ordered probit regression model of the distribution of respondents over levels of happiness, satisfaction and quality of life in 2004. Even after controlling for characteristics of individuals known to influence their ratings of their own wellbeing, there remain marked place effects, which suggest characteristics of cities may also have an independent influence on wellbeing. Discerning the reasons for these place differences requires further work both conceptually and empirically. In the meantime, these initial results do raise important questions about why we choose to live where we do, the scope of that choice and its consequences for our wellbeing.


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