Perception v reality

Stuff reports:

Kiwis who did it tough in 2012 will find no comfort over the next year as financial anxiety rises with the climbing cost of living.

A survey by The Dominion Post paints a gloomy picture for many households: two-thirds of respondents said the cost of living is becoming too high.

And that bleakly held view is backed by various experts, who confirm that prices are likely to climb further over the next 12 months.

The survey polled more than 600 readers and found rates, petrol, food and house prices all among the most pressing financial woes. Taxes, medical and dental expenses, and the exchange rate were also prime concerns.

A reader survey, while interesting, is not a scientific random poll. And nowhere in the article do they mention what the actual inflation rate is, or that interest rates are at a record low. Here’s what Stats NZ found:

  • Annual inflation at 0.8%, the lowest it has been since 1999.
  • Food is 0.9% cheaper than a year ago
  • Clothing and footwear is 1.0% cheaper

I’m also fascinated by the fact the exchange rate was listed as a worry for prices, as the higher the exchange rate, the cheaper most things cost (a high rate is bad for exporters but good for consumers generally).

If you are going to do a story based on perceptions, it would be good to actually include some facts in the story – even ones that don’t agree with the perceptions.


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