The Families and Whānau Status Report is the second in a series that aims to enrich our understanding of family and whānau wellbeing. Measuring family wellbeing is complicated, not just because there is no universally agreed definition of what we mean by family or wellbeing, but also because multiple and inter-related factors impact on the daily activities, functions and living arrangements of families.
The structure of families and whānau in New Zealand is changing. Current demographic trends such as smaller family sizes, increased longevity, relatively high fertility levels, higher rates of household formation and dissolution, are all part of the shifting demographic context. A rapidly changing society is also putting new pressures on families and whānau, making it important to review how well they are standing up to new economic and social circumstances, expectations and values.
The main purpose of this report is to set out the proposed Family and Whānau Wellbeing Frameworks and discuss how these will be used to measure and monitor family and whānau wellbeing. In developing our thinking about how to measure family and whānau wellbeing, the Commission recognises that the concept of family and what is valued can differ by culture.
We have developed two frameworks that reflect the different cultural conceptualisations of family and whānau in non-Māori and Māori communities, and also the different conceptualisations of ‘wellbeing’.
The 2014 Status Report is divided into three main sections.
Section A sets out the two frameworks and includes preliminary analysis of trends in family and whānau wellbeing.
- Chapter 2: Framework for Measuring Family Wellbeing sets out the proposed Family Wellbeing Framework, including the core family functions and domains of influence, and discusses how the Framework will be used to measure family wellbeing.
- Chapter 3; Trends in Family Wellbeing draws on selected questions from the General Social Survey (GSS; 2008, 2010, 2012) to comment on changing aspects of wellbeing by family type.
- Chapter 4; Whānau Wellbeing – Framework and Trends outlines the proposed Whānau Wellbeing Framework and uses existing Census, GSS and administration data, for the period 1981–2012, to undertake a preliminary examination of trends in whānau wellbeing.
- Chapter 5: He Awa Whiria – Braided Rivers discusses how the Commission will use both frameworks to provide a broad understanding of overall family and whānau wellbeing.
Section B includes two chapters by recognised experts. This follows the style developed in the first report in the series, and ensures that the focus on family and whānau wellbeing is complemented by targeted investigations into issues of specific interest.
- Chapter 6: Investigation of Family Transitions uses the longitudinal Survey of Family, Income and Employment to examine how the living arrangements of adults and children changed over the eight years of the survey (2003–10).
- Chapter 7: Pacific Families’ Wellbeing discusses issues of wellbeing in Pacific Islands families, drawing on the Pacific Islands Families Study—a unique longitudinal study of Pacific children and parents in New Zealand, following an initial cohort of 1,376 mothers and 1,398 infants born at Middlemore Hospital between 15 March and 19 December 2000.
Section C sets out how the Commission proposes to take forward work on the frameworks through a dedicated research programme, as well as outlining how the Commission will seek to consult on the Family and Whānau Wellbeing Frameworks.
Appendix: Demographic Trends Update
This brief demographic profile presents an update overview of the make-up of the New Zealand family (2014).