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Market income per person


The total value of goods and services available to New Zealanders, expressed in inflation-adjusted dollars, per head of population, also known as real gross national disposable income (RGNDI) per person.


Per person RGNDI measures the average income available to New Zealanders. A nation with a rising per person RGNDI will have a greater capacity to deliver a better standard of living to its population.

Current level and trends 

In the year to March 2009, RGNDI per person was $30,179 in 1995/1996 dollars. This was 1.7 per cent below RGNDI per person for the year ended March 2008 ($30,708), due to negative economic growth over the year to March 2009. Between 1988 and 1991, RGNDI per person was around $23,000. It then fell sharply to a low of $20,940 in 1992. From 1992, RGNDI per person grew continuously, until it fell in 2009. The average annual growth rate over the whole period from 1988 to 2009 was 1.4 per cent.

Figure EC1.1 Real gross national disposable income per person, 1988–2009

Figure EC1.1 Real gross national disposable income per person, 1988–2009

Source: Statistics New Zealand

International comparison

While gross domestic product (GDP) per person is the measure most commonly used to compare income levels between countries, gross national income (GNI) per person more closely corresponds to the measure used in this indicator. To facilitate comparison, both measures are expressed in US dollars at current prices and current purchasing power parities (PPPs). New Zealand was ranked 22nd out of 30 OECD countries for GDP per person in 2007 (the same ranking as in the previous six years),62 and 22nd out of 29 countries for GNI per person in 2006. Using GDP per person, New Zealand was the 18th most prosperous out of 26 countries in 1986 and the ninth most prosperous in 1970. Using GNI per person, the rankings for New Zealand were 19th in 1986 and eighth in 1970.

Between 1986 and 2007, real GDP per person (using US dollars and PPPs for the year 2000) grew by 32 per cent in New Zealand compared with an OECD average of 51 per cent.

Economic value of unpaid work

RGNDI does not take into account the value of unpaid work such as looking after one’s own children, cooking meals at home, fixing the car, doing home maintenance, or doing voluntary work in the community. Using data from the 1998/1999 Time Use Survey, the value of unpaid work in 1999 was estimated to be $39,637 million (1998/1999 dollars), equivalent to 39 per cent of GDP, or $10,333 per person.63

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