THE LEGATUM PROSPERITY INDEX™ 2016

Bringing Prosperity to Life

The Quest for Prosperity: How can New Zealand keep living standards rising for all?

For a number of years, New Zealand has topped the Legatum Prosperity Index™ largely in part due to its high scores for its open economy and strong social capital. Our latest paper from the Prosperity Index team looks at what New Zealand needs to do in order to ensure it continues delivering high living standards for all New Zealanders.

National success is about far more than just GDP. It is about a healthy and happy life, a good education for our children, a clean and protected environment, family and communities we can rely on, a safe place to live, opportunities to start a business or get ahead, and the freedom to be who we want to be. This is true prosperity.


In lifting living standards, securing economic and social progress, or put simply delivering prosperity, New Zealand has seen much success over the past decade. It topped the Legatum Prosperity Index™ (the Prosperity Index) in 2016 principally due to its strong social capital and the openness of the economy. It has also recorded the largest prosperity surplus – delivering more prosperity than its wealth would suggest – for the past decade.

New Zealand should be proud of the way it currently delivers and secures prosperity for Kiwis,” says Stephen Brien Senior Fellow at the Legatum Institute. “However, maintaining and furthering that prosperity in the future will depend on the depth and breadth of the nation’s human capital.

“To achieve ongoing prosperity, New Zealand must ensure as many people as possible are equipped with the required skills, and have the opportunity, to contribute to society. This will benefit not only the economy, but also the wellbeing of individuals and the communities they live in.”

This paper is a data-led contribution to the debate on what is needed to keep living standards rising. It first examines the strengths of New Zealand’s prosperity through the lens of the Prosperity Index, and the areas where, in comparison to international peers, further improvements can be made.

By focussing on living standards and economic growth, New Zealand has the right approach. However, while New Zealand tops the Prosperity Index it cannot afford to be complacent. The challenges to prosperity for the next generation are such that government needs to be much bolder in tackling the issues that threaten prosperity.

We identify three key challenges in keeping future prosperity growing for all New Zealanders.

Read the full report here.