How were the participants chosen?

We looked for a range of diverse interests and backgrounds. For example, participants came from professional environments, non-profit organisations as well as academic institutions. Further, participants had backgrounds in a diverse range of disciplines, including economics, sociology, law, development studies, environmental studies, political sciences, philosophy, cultural studies and history.

We asked a number of sponsors from universities, union groups and cultural groups throughout the country to nominate a young person to attend. However people who were not nominated by a sponsor were also welcome to apply. Whilst we were trying to engage a diverse group of young New Zealanders, the resulting group was dependent on applications.

Participants shared a strong commitment to the future of New Zealand. They expressed a real desire to understand how current public policy operates and how public policy might be improved to achieve both national goals and goals specific to different groups within New Zealand.

Participant were required to:

  • commit to the entire three days of conference and Workshop activities
  • arrive prepared, having read the pre-workshop material, in particular the information on Treasury’s Living Standards Framework
  • commit to actively listen, reflect and engage in the LivingStandardsNZ Workshop and the GEN conference
  • conduct themselves in an appropriate manner at all time
  • dress appropriately
  • pay it forward  (Participants agreed to commit to completing 10 hours of voluntary service during the next 18 months. This will need to be organised with their sponsors. It could involve organising an event in their hometown to encourage further discussion of living standards in New Zealand, or volunteering with a local school or community organisation)
  • make contact with their sponsor before and after the event
  • allow the Institute to make their name and contact details available to other participants and use images and videos taken at the Workshop for education and research purposes (Please note the Privacy Act 1993 states that an individual’s consent must be given before their name and address can be published in a list of delegates, either for distribution to fellow delegates or any other party)

Sponsor responsibility:

It is the responsibility of the sponsor to make contact with the participant before and after the event, offering support and acting as a receptor for participants’ feedback. Neither the participant nor their sponsor were required to cover any costs. However, in exchange, participants were asked to ‘pay-it-forward’ by providing ten hours community work over the next 12 months. This will be entirely up to the participant to organise with the sponsor.

What will it cost?

All costs were covered for the participants from 3-5 December, including registration for the GEN conference, workshop registration, travel, accommodation and food.

What is the purpose of the Workshop?

LivingStandardsNZ provided an opportunity for young people to explore and express their concerns about living standards in New Zealand. Young New Zealanders have the most to gain (or lose) from long-term decision making and should be actively involved in this process. The goal of the Workshop was to test the Treasury’s current Living Standards Framework. Participants were challenged to resolve complex and long term policy issues, what we call ‘policy knots’, through the application of the Framework. The objectives were (1) to understand the kinds of considerations that we should think about when addressing complex policy issues, and (2) to test whether the lens of the current Living Standards Framework is durable and long-lasting, and if there are ways it might be improved.

What will the outputs be?

Participants analysed three case studies to gain an understanding of how the Living Standards Framework can be used to tackle complex situations, and to consider how it could be improved. Using ‘policy knots’, participants tested the Framework against the three case studies: Case Study 1: Natural Capital-Marlborough Sounds, Case Study 2: Physical Capital- Housing, Case Study 3: Human Capital-Growing Talent. This allowed the participants to apply the Framework with an emphasis on how it can be implemented, communicated and improved. In particular, we wanted the participants to consider the degree to which the Framework can accommodate different cultural perspectives.

The outputs of this exercise are the 2013 Youth Living Standards Framework for New Zealand that details their conclusions and a YouTube video of their final presentation, both of which are available on the videos page.

What are living standards?

Treasury describes living standards as much more than just income or GDP: they include a broad range of factors which impact on well-being (such as trust, education, health and environmental quality). This diagram summarises what Treasury thinks are the important factors to consider for achieving the goal of higher living standards.


What is the Living Standards Framework?

The Treasury describe their Living Standards Framework as a framework recognising that:

  • There is a broad range of material and non-material determinants of living standards beyond income and GDP.
  • Freedoms, rights and capabilities are important for living standards.
  • The distribution of living standards across different groups in society is an ethical concern for the public, and a political concern for governments.
  • The sustainability of living standards over time is important, so analysis of policy needs to weigh up short-term and long-term costs and benefits.
  • Measuring living standards with subjective measures of wellbeing provides a useful cross-check of what is important to individuals.

For more information on the Framework please see the resources page and the Higher Living Standards page on the Treasury’s website.

Who is facilitating this workshop?

LivingStandardsNZ was a joint initiative of the New Zealand Treasury and the McGuinness Institute. The Institute is a non-partisan think tank working towards a sustainable future by contributing strategic foresight through evidence-based research and policy analysis. For information about the McGuinness Institute, see our website or our FAQ page.

Other questions?

If you have any further questions you can contact us here.