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Sustainability and Wellbeing: A Text Analysis of New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, Official Yearbooks and Ministerial Documents

Mubashir Qasim ()

Working Papers in Economics from University of Waikato

Abstract: Recent advances in natural language processing and semantic analysis methods are enabling scholars to analyse text extensively. These techniques have not only minimized the margins of error arising from missing data from a traditionally conducted discourse analysis but also permitted reproducibility of research results. In this paper, we use several text analysis methods to analyse the evolution of the terms ‘sustainability’ and ‘wellbeing’ (SaW) from parliamentary debates (Hansard), New Zealand Official Yearbooks (NZOYBs) and ministerial documents over 125 years. The term ‘welfare’ has existed in the NZOYBs and Hansard text since the start of our analysis (1893), with a steadily increasing trend until the mid-1980s. The term ‘wellbeing’ gained momentum in mid-1930s and has been linked strongly with ‘sustainability’ in the following decades. Our analysis re-emphasizes the importance of the Brundtland Report (‘Our Common Future’) which acted as a catalyst to the sustainable movement in late 1980s. ‘Sustainability’ and ‘wellbeing’ then began to appear in conjunction. Our analysis includes the finding that SaW differ significantly when political parties are considered.

Keywords: sustainable development; wellbeing; text analysis; resilience; parliamentary debates; Hansard (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C80 I31 N00 Q01 Q56 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-big, nep-env, nep-hap and nep-his
Date: 2019-01-10
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