Current Master's Opportunity: Public housing and urban regeneration: Maximising wellbeing

Are you interested in improving the outcomes of tenants in public housing? We have funding for an enthusiastic and capable master's student to conduct a research project to build on some initial work looking at the wellbeing of people in different forms of housing tenure.

This scholarship is supported through the MBIE Endeavour Research Programme, Public housing and urban regeneration: Maximising wellbeing (PHUR), to look at public housing as a driver of well-being and sustainable urban regeneration. The Master of Public Health (MPH) or MSc scholarship of $20,000 is for the second year and includes fees and a stipend. The research team is based at the NZ Centre for Sustainable Cities in the Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington. 

The topic

A recent Working Paper released as part of the PHUR programme1 examined the wellbeing of people living in different tenure types. The study was based on a survey of public housing tenants and some private renters and owner-occupiers, with the focus on results for Wellington residents (N=400 for Wellington sample). A key finding was that, despite often experiencing multiple deprivations, public housing tenants had wellbeing that was similar to that of owner-occupiers and well above that of private renters. The study concluded that stability of tenure was likely to be an important feature that explained the higher wellbeing of public renters relative to private renters.

Two surveys conducted in Wellington in 2022 should enable analysis of similar issues using extended samples. PHUR researchers expect to have access to each of these surveys. The two surveys are:

  • Quality of Life survey - Wellington component (QOLSWC)
  • Wellington City Council (WCC) Tenant Wellbeing Survey (WCCTWS)

QOLSWC has N=612 for Wellington City, plus an additional 1,757 for the greater Wellington urban area (2,369 in total), while WCCTWS has N=303 (i.e., a grand total of N=2,672).

One problem with using QOLS for an examination of the wellbeing of public housing tenants is that the sub-sample of such tenants is small (for instance, a recent analysis2 showed that only 7% of the QOLS respondents in Auckland were public housing tenants). However, the two surveys listed above are conducted in the same year (2022) and have some identical questions, particularly for wellbeing. This overlap should enable a researcher to supplement the information in the QOLSWC with information from the WCCTWS to form a sample that has an over-sampling of public housing (especially WCC) tenants within it.

This supplemented survey could then be used to test similar questions to those examined within the Motu working paper (mentioned above) – especially regarding the wellbeing of people in different forms of tenure – using a significantly larger sample with different sampling experiences. 

Each of the two surveys has prior survey waves, which may be used to extend the analysis from that discussed above with estimation using multiple waves. 

The project will require a student who has some statistical background with some skills in using statistical software to conduct regressions.

[1] Grimes A, Smith C, O’Sullivan K, Howden-Chapman P, Le Gros L, Dohig R K. Micro-geography and public housing tenant wellbeing. Motu Working Paper 23-08, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research. Wellington.

[2] Prakash, A. (2023). Wellbeing among Auckland homeowners and renters: results from the Quality of Life survey. Auckland Council technical report, TR2023/6. 

General Candidate requirements

The candidate will require some statistical background with skills in using statistical software to conduct regressions and ideally have completed a university paper in statistics and data analysis. 

 Register your interest

Please send an email to Kate Murphy at to discuss this opportunity further.