Ipsos NZ - Predictions for 2021

The Ipsos Global Advisor Study regularly asks respondents from around the world, including New Zealand, for their views on different topics. Recently, Ipsos conducted a study to understand perceptions around what 2021 may bring. Over 20,000 men and women across 31 countries were surveyed. In New Zealand, 1,000 people aged 18–74 participated in this survey and expressed their views.

The author(s)

  • Amanda Dudding Director, Public Affairs Research
  • Jonathan Dodd Ipsos Marketing, New Zealand
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Tuesday, 12 January 2021–

The majority of New Zealanders (86%) agree that 2020 was a bad year for their country (cf. 90% global; 92% Australia) and 61% report that 2020 was a bad year of themselves and their family (cf. 70% global; 68% Australia).


General outlook for 2021

The majority of New Zealanders agree that 2020 was a bad year for the country (86%) and for themselves and their family (61%). Respondents in Australia and the rest of the world had even higher levels of agreement.  Whilst people in New Zealand and around the world overwhelmingly agree that 2020 was a bad year, the majority are optimistic that 2021 will be a better year (82% NZ; 77% global; 82% Australia).


New Zealanders are less likely than those overseas to anticipate a full economic recovery in 2021, and we expect a lower vaccination rate.

  • Just 25% of New Zealanders anticipate that the NZ economy will fully recover in 2021 (cf. 32% global; 19% Australia). Compared to other countries, New Zealanders and Australians have relatively higher levels of scepticism regarding the rate of economic recovery. This scepticism is most pronounced for older New Zealanders – just 18% of those aged 50+ think it is likely that the economy will recover fully in 2021 (vs. 28% of those aged under 35 years).
  • 30% of New Zealanders think mask-wearing will be prevalent in public places a year from now (cf. 61% global; 37% Australia). 
  • Just under half of New Zealanders (48%) believe that a COVID-19 vaccine will become widely available in NZ in 2021 (cf. 60% global; 62% Australia).

The pandemic has affected different people in different ways, and New Zealanders expect income disparity to increase.

  • Half (50%) of New Zealanders think it is likely that income inequality in NZ will increase (cf. 66% global; 51% Australia).
  • New Zealanders are less optimistic about the gender pay gap declining – just 32% believe that pay equity is likely in 2021 (cf. 40% global, 36% Australia). 2 in 3 women believe it is unlikely that pay equity will be achieved in 2021.
  • In terms of shopping habits, just under half of New Zealanders (48%) say they are likely to spend more money online versus in-store (cf. 57% global; 46% Australia).

Society & Culture
New Zealanders are significantly more likely than those overseas to anticipate increased interpersonal tolerance this year.

  • There is higher optimism amongst New Zealanders, with 44% believing in 2021 people in NZ will become more tolerant of each other (cf. 29% global; 29% Australia). Of all age groups, this view is most pronounced for those aged under 35 years (54%).
  • New Zealanders are also more likely to believe that the police will treat all people equally, regardless of differences (48% cf. 33% global; 40% Australia).


  • Cyber security is of lesser concern to New Zealanders, with 29% believing that one of their online accounts will be hacked in 2021 (cf. 34% global; 33% Australia).
  • 14% of New Zealanders and 15% of Australians believe that human cloning will be legalised in some countries in 2021 – globally, 21% believe this to be likely.

Global Threats

  • The majority of New Zealanders (71%) anticipate an increase in average global temperatures in 2021 (cf. 75% global; 69% Australia).

Commenting on the Issues Monitor, Amanda Dudding, Research Director, Public Affairs, Ipsos New Zealand, said: “2020 was a year that most people were happy to see the end of. So it wasn't surprising that the majority of New Zealanders agreed that 2020 was a bad year for the country. They also viewed 2020 as a bad year for themselves and their whānau.

However, when we asked New Zealanders what they thought 2021 would bring, it seems they are being cautious in their predictions. While most people are optimistic that it will be better on the whole, only a quarter think our economy will completely recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems New Zealanders have come to accept that there’s a long road ahead.

The prediction of low mask wearing isn’t surprising as it reflects what we have seen in NZ (and Australia) to this point, whereas for many others around the world it has been a reality and seems likely to continue.”


Jonathan Dodd, Research Director, Ipsos New Zealand, added: “Despite the negativity felt, New Zealanders generally feel better off than those overseas, which is not surprising, but conversely with a less rosy view of our economic future, no doubt due to our reliance on overseas visitors. It is certainly a curious feature of the pandemic that overseas visitors will serve as both a threat to our economy and also its future salvation.”


The author(s)

  • Amanda Dudding Director, Public Affairs Research
  • Jonathan Dodd Ipsos Marketing, New Zealand

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