Wellbeing Economics

Wellbeing Economics

Future Directions for New Zealand

New Zealand is recognised as having been a pioneer in creating in 1938 what was arguably the Western world’s first comprehensive welfare state … we argue in this book that more than seventy-five years later there is a new opportunity for New Zealand to pioneer a further transformation in how a country enhances the wellbeing of its people.

Seventy-five years after Labour’s social security reforms of the 1930s, it is time for a major shift in how New Zealand regards the wellbeing of its people. Instead of measuring economic growth for its own sake, we should be assessing how well it enables New Zealanders to lead ‘the kinds of lives they value and have reason to value’.

Wellbeing economics is famously defined by Professor Amartya Sen as: ‘the expansion of the “capabilities” of people to lead the kinds of lives they value and have reason to value’. Exploring the wellbeing economics concept of ‘value-added growth’, this analysis spans from personal to national growth, calling for New Zealand’s transformation from the traditional ‘welfare state’ to a progressive ‘wellbeing state’.

What are BWB Texts?

BWB Texts are short books on big subjects by great New Zealand writers. Spanning contemporary issues, history and memoir, new BWB Texts are released regularly, and the series now amounts to well over fifty works.

All recently published BWB Texts can be purchased in print and digital formats using the ‘Buy’ or ‘Preorder’ buttons on this page. You can also subscribe to the series – a great gift idea! Find more information about subscription offers here.

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Print publication:
Ebook publication: Jun 2014
Pages: 152
RRP: $14.99
ISBN: 9781927277607
ISTC: A022013000006165
DOI: 10.7810/9781927247990

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'Books with Annemarie Florian', Savvy, February 2016

'BOOK EXTRACT: Wellbeing Economics – Capital and the value of work', NBR, December 2015

New Zealand Wellbeing Frameworks’, Journal of the Sociological Association of Aotearoa/New Zealand, 30, 3 (2015)

'Narrow focus of refugee debate decried', Eileen Goodwin, Otago Daily Times, 8 Sept 2015

Watch this ONE News Q&A session with Professor Paul Dalziel and Susan Wood, 3 August 2014


‘Good things, so the cliché goes, sometimes arrive in surprisingly small packages ... as successive regimes cease prescribing to maintain our personal wellbeing in favour of their political longevity, so we are witnessing some very nasty local and global side effects.This book is a script for recovery. Take it until completing the course – just an hour or two.’, Reg Birchfield, New Zealand Management

‘... short, accessible and stuffed full of clear evidence that economic action is needed, and not just action that fiddles around the edges. The conversation about inequality in Aotearoa New Zealand must continue, and these easily digestible texts should help ensure it does’, Marlene Ware, Scoop Review of Books

'This is an eminently sensible book written in an engaging way.' Steve Earle, The Research Leader, September 2016