Economy trumps environment on worry list
Economic issues top the list of worries for most New Zealanders, while environmental worries have dropped in people's priorities, according to the latest state of the nation report by pollsters Roy Morgan.
At the same time, the population is gradually getting older, more computer-oriented and less socially conservative.
Respondents to a weekly phone poll were asked to name the major issues facing the world and New Zealand.
In January, more than half named a financial issue, including the financial crisis and the gap between rich and poor (as issues facing the world) and inflation and exchange rates (issues facing New Zealand).
Unemployment and job security was the biggest issue facing New Zealand for 12 per cent of those surveyed, double the rate of a similar survey in Australia.
Meanwhile, New Zealand's environment slipped off the top of the worry list for most people as economic concerns became more pressing. The number of people naming environmental concerns as a key issue fell to 11 per cent in January from 19 per cent in October last year.
Roy Morgan Research CEO Michele Levine said the environment was an overwhelmingly big issue globally until 2008, when the global recession and successful lobbying by groups opposed to action on climate change saw concern drop away.
''A nation just can't worry about everything all at one time.''
Concern held up longer in New Zealand because of the Rena oil spill, but that too was dropping away, she said.
Consumer confidence was in positive territory, sitting at 113.3 in February after a blip upwards in January - an improvement on the 101.4 last April following the February 2011 earthquake.
A score above 100 indicates optimists outweigh the pessimists.
Since the election, support for the Government has slipped two percentage points but remains high at 45.3 per cent, compared with Labour's 31.5 per cent.
The Government confidence rating sat at the lowest point since the election, although it was up on this time last year and remained high overall.
More than half of people agreed the Government was doing a good job, with a similar number saying the country was heading in the right direction.
The report is based on phone interviews with about 500 people aged 14 and over every week, 48 weeks a year, with more detailed written questionnaires returned by about half of those telephoned.
Results are weighted to represent the wider population.
Other findings included a surge in the use of the internet in the past decade, with social media sites such as Facebook now being used weekly by the majority of people and most people using a computer every day.
But people were less likely last year than they were a decade ago to entertain friends and relatives or go to movies, sports events, art galleries and museums.
Participation in sports was waning but seemed to be offset by a rise in individual exercise such as running and going to the gym.
The survey also suggested we are becoming more liberal. While only one in four people described themselves as socially progressive, views traditionally associated with conservative beliefs have been falling over the past decade, including concern about security and safety and way of life, and the belief that women belong in the home.
A solid majority (56 per cent) now support same-sex adoption.
- © Fairfax NZ News