The first study in New Zealand to measure the attractiveness of a region showed the Waikato beats others as an attractive place to live and play but lags on a work theme score.
The research by Waikato University's New Zealand Institute for Business Research for business-led think tank Agenda Waikato used 87 of 100 identified wellbeing indicators in the study of the Waikato sub-region, which comprised all communities within a 45-minute drive of Hamilton city.
The report said indicators were classified in three ways: Agenda Waikato themes; Treasury capital classifications of financial/physical capital, social capital, human capital and environmental capital; and OECD well-being criteria.
Authors Frank Scrimgeour, Vijay Kumar and Ngoc Thi Minh Tran said indicators identified were relevant for people attraction and retention.
Like Treasury and Ministry of Social Development analyses, the study focused on wellbeing indicators but theirs were applied at a national level.
Overall, the results showed the Waikato sub-region was more attractive relative to New Zealand, said the authors.
Agenda Waikato chairman Graham Dwyer said the study produced "some real facts" and set an agenda for the future by directing the region's leaders to where it was performing well and where it wasn't.
"We often sit around and pontificate what the issues are, but if we can back it up with properly done international-quality balanced research then we're not talking any more about what we think our problems are.
"We're talking about what the researched answers are."
Dwyer said Agenda Waikato, formed last year to support and drive initiatives that strengthen the Waikato's business voice, would pick out two or three areas of the research to "start moving the dials on what we're good at and what we can do better".
"I think that will come out in the next couple of weeks - we've had a lot of interest."
"If we can harness what people with bigger brains than me see we might be able to understand what we can do to turn the dial."
Data was collected from multiple credible sources, included Statistics NZ, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, NZ Police, Waikato DHB, NIWA and city, district and regional councils.
Agenda Waikato aspires for the Waikato to be the best region in New Zealand to live, work and play.
The population of the sub-region researched was estimated to be 316,000 last year.