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Together, the four indicators used here measure opportunities for and actual levels of connection between people, both within people's immediate social groups and with the wider community. The indicators are: access to the internet; unpaid work outside the home; participation in family/whānau activities and regular contact with family/friends; and membership and involvement in groups.
Access to the internet is significant because it allows people to keep in touch without seeing each other face to face. This means social connectedness can be maintained even when people are in different cities or even countries. It also means new social networks can be opened up between people who may never have met, crossing geographical boundaries.
Time spent on unpaid work outside the home is an indicator of people's willingness and ability to act for others and to enhance the common good. Unpaid work directly maintains wellbeing through the services provided, whether that be care of an elderly relative or working on a community project. It also has indirect benefits by building the social networks and 'social capital' which is important for wellbeing. People doing unpaid work benefit by widening their social network.
For the vast majority of people, social networks centre on family and friends. The third indicator measures the proportion of people who take part in family activities and have family or friends over for a meal at least once a month.
Participation and involvement in groups and clubs measures people's willingness to take part in activities outside the family for their own benefit and the benefit of others. People who participate in clubs and groups widen their social circle beyond their immediate friends and family, and contribute to the building of the social networks necessary for a well-functioning society.
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