Surviving on superannuation
A survey of people in advanced age has shown that for most people (89%), New Zealand Superannuation is the main source of income.
The University of Auckland study, funded by the Ministry of Health, also shows a significant difference between Maori and non-Maori people reporting that the NZ Superannuation (NZS) pension is their only source of income.
Twice as many Maori (41 percent) as non-Maori (21 percent) reported the NZS as their only income.
These findings are from a population-based sample of 937 people – Māori (aged 80 to 90 years) and non-Māori people (aged 85 years) – living in the Bay of Plenty and taking part in a longitudinal study of advanced ageing.
The study is called Life and Living in Advanced Age: a Cohort Study in New Zealand – Te Puāwaitanga O Ngā Tapuwae Kia Ora Tonu, (LiLACS NZ).
The latest LiLACS NZ short report presents key findings about the main sources of income, how people felt about their money situation, and the entitlement cards they had in advanced age.
“People receiving only the NZ Superannuation were more likely to feel they could not make ends meet,” says study leader, Professor Ngaire Kerse from the University of Auckland. “And fewer Maori than non-Maori felt comfortable with their health situation in advanced age.”
Almost all the people in advanced age surveyed had a SuperGold Card, but fewer Maori than non-Maori had a High Use Health Card.
Significantly fewer Maori (six percent) received superannuation from other sources as well as the NZS, compared with 14% for non-Maori.
It was the same pattern with income from investments (Maori 28%/non-Maori 65%), but as would be expected, more Maori (32%) received tribal land trust money than non-Maori, (2%).
NZ Superannuation was the only source of income for more women than men, and significantly fewer non-Maori women received NZS or other pensions. Non-Maori women were also more likely to receive financial assistance from family than non-Maori men.
The majority of people in advanced age (75%) were comfortable with their money situation with 25% saying they had just enough to get along and one percent saying they could not make ends meet.
These perceptions were significantly related to source of income and all of those who could not make ends meet, had NZS as the only source of income.
More people who felt they had just enough to get along, relied solely on NZS for income (50%) than those who reported that they were comfortable (30%).
One does wonder how older people living on superannuation are faring in areas with high living costs, such as Auckland and Christchurch.
Carers NZ plans to undertake some consumer research to dig deeper, as little is known about how much older people and their families spend on health, disability, and medical goods/services. Such costs can have a significant impact on wellbeing and ability to maintain independence at home in old age.