Part 3 : Applicability of the Madrid indicators

Using the United Nations' Madrid indicators to better understand our ageing population.
Population ageing is one of the most significant trends of the 21st century.
United Nations Population Fund

In this Part, we discuss whether the Madrid indicators are applicable to New Zealand.

Most of the Madrid indicators are applicable to a New Zealand context and the data needed to report on most of them was available. This means that public entities have a minimum set of data available to use in responding to an ageing population.

Much of the data we used to report on the Madrid indicators was collected in the census and other national surveys or held in national databases. Some of the Madrid indicators are considered so significant that they are or will be Tier 1 official statistics.4 Several of the Madrid indicators address matters discussed in the Report of National Science Challenges Panel (2013).5

In some instances, the matters addressed by some indicators were dealt with many years ago (such as access to good sanitation or a universal pension) or are not significant problems facing older people (such as HIV/AIDS).

Some Madrid indicators could be applied in our country differently than in some other countries. For example, being connected to electricity is taken for granted in New Zealand, but is not in many less developed countries. However, fuel poverty6 might be more pertinent, given the flow-on effects on older people's health, health service use, and ability to work, provide support to others, or keep living in the community. A study published in 2010 found that more New Zealanders die in winter than any other season. The risk is higher among people with low income, those living in rented accommodation, and those living in cities. The exact causal mechanisms are not known but could include poorer health status, cold homes, and household crowding.7

4: These are the minimum statistics that the Government agrees to collect.

5: The report is available from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's website at

6: Fuel poverty is discussed with reference to child poverty in McChesney (2013), ‘Child poverty: the "fuel poverty" dimension', Policy Quarterly, Vol. 9, Issue 2, pages 40-46, available at the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies' website at

7: Hales, S. et al (2010), "Seasonal patterns of mortality in relation to social factors", Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health Online First, available at