Measuring wellbeing in New Zealand during the 19th - early 20th centuries : a spatial perspective.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The overall objective of this thesis is to compare and contrast alternative measures of wellbeing in New Zealand during the 19th -early 20th centuries from a spatial perspective by collecting, collating and analyzing new economic, social and anthropometric data. Provincial data was collected from the Statistics New Zealand Annual Reports and New Zealand Census. Anthropometric data was derived from the personnel records of New Zealanders serving in WWI, which only became available to the public in 2005. Time-series tests for convergence and causality have been applied to analyze New Zealand’s economic history, where appropriate. The last quarter of the 19th century in New Zealand was a period of rapid change both in terms of economic and demographic indicators. Prior to the universal convergence of the existing monetary-based measures of wellbeing across Provinces, there were some apparent disparities in the commodity price and real wage series, as well as urban-rural differences in occupation-specific real wages and infant mortality trends. There was also no single pattern of stature decline across provinces during 1871-1898, or between urban and rural areas, where disparities were particularly apparent. The traditional view of the healthy and wealthy New Zealand could only be established at an aggregate level, during a certain time period and for a certain ethnic group (New Zealand European only). Using Provincial data for the period 1874-1919 I have been able to show that improvements in real wages and a decrease in education inequality (between females and males) corresponded to lower infant deaths and thus better health outcomes, while increased dwelling density created unfavorable conditions for infants’ chances of survival. Anthropometric data was used in conjunction with socio-economic provincial data to establish the relationship between stature, urbanization, real wages and infant mortality. The results showed that dwelling density (overcrowding) and general economic conditions were both important in determining stature outcomes during 1870-1900, while the effect of infant mortality on stature was negligible. Most importantly, it has been demonstrated that in New Zealand stature represents a much more robust measure of living standards than real wages or health indicators on their own, at least during the 1870-1900 period.