'People are the common denominator of progress' said the famous Canadian economist John Kenneth Galbraith. We run the risk of losing this simple truth if we become distracted by recent turmoil in global financial markets. While this turmoil may be important to our immediate economic future, the real and enduring basis of progress is people. This means of course that we do not just measure progress in economic terms but we also consider the experiences of people particularly, the most vulnerable people.
The purpose of this brief report is to consider the extent of social progress that we have made in New Zealand over the past five years. This consideration is not in terms of the common economic indicators but in terms of often ignored social statistics. These social statistics can allow us to glimpse at the changing lives of New Zealanders. The Salvation Army anticipates that this report will be repeated annually to allow us to reflect on the nature of social change and progress on a regular and consistent basis.