Project Information

Project title
Palmerston North Youth Happiness Survey Project
C.J. Patrick (Pat) Nolan PhD
Postal address
49 Lincoln Terrace
Palmerston North 4410
New Zealand
Project dates
Stage 1: 15th June – 15th August
Stage 2: TBA
Ministry of Youth Development
Nature of the project

A representative survey of youth in Palmerston North to gauge their state of happiness, defined as a composite of personal well being and satisfaction with life.

The city council of Palmerston North (a provincial university city in North Island, NZ), and representing a wide range of agencies that work with youth, wishes to develop, and later administer, a survey questionnaire that gathers data and information to support youth development initiatives locally, and monitor progress bi-annually.

Specifically, the agencies want to foster and support young people feeling (being) happy, healthy and safe in their community, living with a sense of purpose, and feeling connected, supported and able to contribute positively; and parenthetically see Palmerston North as a place in which to live satisfying lives.

The Youth construct subdivides into broadly three categories (though not mutually exclusive) that human development research recognises as early adolescence - 10–14 years, middle-mature adolescence - 15–19 years, and early adulthood - 20–25 years.

Brief description

The survey project, in two parts, is part of an anticipated larger to youth development and youth community-participation project that will be ongoing.

Part 1, following a (brief but reasonably thorough) review of relevant survey research instruments (North America, Europe, and Australasia) is to fashion a youth happiness questionnaire that will include three sections covering:

  1. Demographic aspects along with (local) social circumstances and conditions that youth experience (including some aspects of Section 1 of the ComQoLSS);
  2. The PWI-SC - Personal Wellbeing Index - School Children/Adults; and
  3. The MSLSS - Multidimensional Student Life Satisfaction Scale (Huebner)

Part 2 will encompass survey administration to a stratified random sample representative of the wide range of youth of the City (region), and analysis and reporting of results to inform the larger youth development and community-participation project.

The dependent/independent variables structure of the Survey will permit analysis of the relationship between variables, e.g. similarity and difference between females and males’ sense of wellbeing and life satisfaction.

Stakeholders later may want to broaden the scope of the Survey to include the wider Manawatu Region and its other towns and cities, and then perhaps consider a project of a larger scale encompassing other main urban/rural centres of New Zealand.