Raising well-being for disadvantaged groups & indigenous development are two of my fields in economics, so let's look at the assumed stark differences in life satisfaction, depending on ethnicity, that form the foundation of the entire Inquiry. Below are Stats NZ figures (that were never reported by the Commission):
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Average life satisfaction across all ethnicities is the same, at 7.9 out of 10. A higher proportion of Māori & Pacific peoples report 10 out of 10 compared to any other ethnic group. Amazingly, 22% of Pacific peoples and 21% of Māori rate themselves as a perfect 10 score, compared to 16% of Europeans.
These findings are the opposite to those reported by the Commission. Why did it hide the incredible levels of life satisfaction experienced by most Māori & Pacific peoples? Does the Chair of the Productivity Commission not know about the well-being statistics and important academic articles that have been written in this field?
When we invited the founder of well-being economics, Professor Richard Easterlin, out for a visit he specifically referred to this finding. Why? Since he considers the most disadvantaged folks are those trapped on the hedonic treadmill, which is the quest for more material goods & services in a never-ending struggle to "keep up with the Joneses".
Professor Robert MacCulloch holds the Matthew S. Abel Chair of Macroeconomics at Auckland University. He has previously worked at the Reserve Bank, Oxford University, and the London School of Economics. He runs the blog Down to Earth Kiwi from where this article was sourced.