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Housing affordability


Housing plays an important role in child wellbeing. This indicator looks at the percentage of children (aged 0-17 years) living in households with unaffordable housing costs.

*Note: This is also a Child Poverty Related Indicator

In addition to meeting the basic human need of shelter, housing plays an important role in child wellbeing. Physical environment has a significant influence on children's physical, emotional, social and cognitive development. A child's house and home is the physical environment where they will spend the most time during their childhood – it provides the foundations for stability, comfort and safety in a child's life. Housing can directly influence a child's physical health, where they are eligible to attend school, their access to local community services (like playgrounds), and even who they are likely to make friends with.

Spending more than 30% of disposable income on housing costs is generally considered unaffordable. Unaffordable housing often leaves families with insufficient money left to cover other basic needs such as adequate nutrition, heating, clothing, and transport costs. This financial stress and burden can negatively impact on parental relationships, parental mental health and health behaviours, which can in turn influence children's health and developmental outcomes.

Housing affordability is a significant issue, with New Zealand's housing market regarded internationally as one of the most unaffordable in the world. Attempts to economise can bring different risks to child wellbeing; for example, living in a house that is too small, overcrowded, poor quality, in an unsuitable location.

How will we measure this?

  • This indicator looks at the proportion of children (aged 0-17 years) living in households spending more than 30% of their disposable income on housing costs. It is calculated using a ratio of gross housing costs (rates, dwelling insurance, mortgage and rent) to household disposable income. The ratio is called OTI for short (outgoings-to-income ratio). It draws on data from the Household Economic Survey.
  • This indicator will be updated annually in March.

For more information

Last updated: 
Thursday, 23 July 2020