They say money doesn't buy happiness, but it seems that a high income might.

A survey has found those earning $100,000 or more rate their quality of life better than those who earn less.

But those lower down the pay ladder should not despair - satisfaction appears to increase with age, regardless of income.

A Shapenz online survey for the Business Council for Sustainable Development asked 1066 people to rank their quality of life as excellent, very good, good, fair or poor. About 83 per cent rated it good or better, a drop of 6 per cent from 2008 and 9 per cent less than 2007. (In previous surveys people were asked to rank their quality of life from 1-5, with 5 being the best.)

All of those earning $200,000 or more rated their quality of life very good or excellent, while people earning $20,000 or less were the income group most likely (20 per cent) to say their quality of life was poor or fair.

People aged 75 or older were the age group most likely (76 per cent) to answer excellent or very good, followed by people aged 65 to 74 and 18 to 24 year olds.

AUT psychology professor Rex Billington, who is carrying out his own quality of life study, said the results were in line with international research showing satisfaction tended to increase with age and income.

He said it was income relative to those around you that was important: "The amount of money you have increases the opportunities you have and your quality of life will be better," he said. "[But] there are some in poor communities who have more than others and they regard themselves as being better off and having better quality of life."

Those in the middle years and with children at home tended to have a broader range of worries than the old and be less optimistic than the young, he said.

"The older you are, the more satisfied you seem to be, but what is important to you tends to narrow a bit as well," he said.

Dr Billington said elderly people tended to value independence and family, whereas younger people tended to value physical health and attributes and family, though to a lesser extent than older people.

The Shapenz survey was carried out in February and March.

Results are weighted to represent the national population and have a maximum margin of error for the whole sample of plus or minus 3 per cent.


Feeling as though the Government is listening to them is one of the most important things to New Zealanders, but it is the area where the country scores the worst.

AUT psychology professor Rex Billington is near completing a survey in which researchers asked New Zealanders what factors were most important to their quality of life and then asked them to rate how satisfied they were.

He said pilot groups told him that one of the top factors was whether they got the feeling that the Government was responding to their needs.

But when asked how satisfied they were with different factors, Government responsiveness was rated the worst.

The environment and safety and security were rated highly.

Dr Billington said the study found New Zealanders of all cultures valued their families very highly. In general, their interests were similar to people elsewhere in the world.