Sample surveys, such as the Household Expenditure Survey (HES), are conducted at irregular intervals due to high costs involved, thus securing funds for such activity is often difficult. The most recent HES was conducted in 2005-06.
The 2005-06 HES was the third comprehensive survey of household expenditure in the Cook Islands, following on from the 1998 and 1986 surveys. The 2005 HES covered Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Mangaia, Atiu (which also represented Mitiaro and Mauke) for the Southern Group, and Penhryn and Manihiki (to represent Rakahanga, Pukapuka, Nassau and Suwarrow) for the Northern Group, while previous HES were carried out in Rarotonga only.
It was originally planned to survey Pukapuka and have this island representing Nassau and Suwarrow. However, the five cyclones that hit the Cook Islands in early 2005 left Pukapuka heavily damaged, which significantly affected expenditure patterns. As a result, Pukapuka was not enumerated and the Penrhyn and Manihiki samples were increased to cover all the Northern Group.
Information about the Household Expenditure Survey
The Household Economic Survey (HES) collects a wide range of demographic information, private dwelling information, as well as a fine level of detail on the expenditures of households. Unlike previous surveys the most recent HES excluded questions on income and time use due to the poor response from respondents. Further health information was also collected in the 2005 survey.
The overall level of activity in the economy is closely allied with domestic consumer activity. Two key factors determine the ability of individuals to consume goods and services. These are the availability of goods and services to the consumer, and the consumer having the means to acquire them. Among the factors influencing spending patterns are changes in government policies, income levels, consumer preferences, the types of goods and services available in the economy, and household and family structures. The primary means for acquiring goods and services is by cash purchases, obtaining credit or exchanging other goods or services. Production for own use, and gifts from friends and relatives, are also important ways of getting consumable items.