Category Archives: Distributional Economics

Notes on the NZ Material Hardship Measures

Since 2008 Statistics New Zealand has measured material hardship in households with seventeen questions in the Household Economic Survey. This note reports on my brief exploration.[1] The Unit of Measurement The hardship questions are asked of a household and responses are reported on that base. The data reported below is by individuals so a household…
Continue reading this entry »

Delivering Equity for Older People in New Zealand

Introductory Notes for Brightstar Seminar: The Delivering Equity for Older People in New Zealand Grand Millennium Hotel, Auckland on Apr 30 & May 1, 2024 Thankyou for the invitation to contribute to this panel. About twenty years ago, Suzie Carson and I were investigating wellbeing via the Household Economic Survey. We got what at first…
Continue reading this entry »

The Case For A Universal Family Benefit

One Could Reduce Child Poverty At No Fiscal Cost Following the Richardson/Shipley 1990 ‘redesign of the welfare state’ – which eliminated the universal Family Benefit and doubled the rate of child poverty – various income supplements for families have been added, the best known being ‘Working for Families’, introduced in 2005. The result of the…
Continue reading this entry »

Housing Tenure And Poverty: A Note

Note written for circulation in March 2024 This note explores housing tenure in the part of the distribution where the poverty line is, defining the line by the SNZ material hardship indicator. The note does not explore the AHC income-expenditure measure,[1] partly because there are insufficient observations but mostly because, as explained in the appendix,…
Continue reading this entry »

Why Did Child Poverty Increase Recently?

Not so much from a lack of nominal income but from rising mortgage interest rates The just released Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) estimates child poverty for the year ending June 2023 show the proportions of children on nine different poverty measures are higher than they were in the June 2022 ending year. SNZ warns that…
Continue reading this entry »

Do We Really Care about the Marginalised?

Social philosophy in New Zealand is muddled and incomplete. This year, 2021, is the fiftieth anniversary of John Rawls’ The Theory of Justice, described as the most important book on political philosophy written in the twentieth century. As you might expect it is a big book (587 pages with a follow-up one of 464 pages)…
Continue reading this entry »

Are We Really Budgeting for Wellbeing?

How Can We Make Wellbeing at the Centre of Public Policy If We Dont Measure It? When the Minister of Finance announced in the 2018 budget that in the future economic policy would focus more on wellbeing, many saw a glimmer of hope that we were moving away from the mechanical thinking which underpinned Rogernomics/neoliberalism….
Continue reading this entry »

Designing a The Primary Macropolicy Wellbeing Indicator

Introduction: The focus of this paper is on macroeconomic management and not on the entirety of economic policy. There are many issues which macroeconomic interventions cannot address. To use macroeconomic instruments, rather than the relevant targeted instrument, will blunt the effectiveness of macropolicy interventions. Reflecting, this paper is really a critique of the current primary…
Continue reading this entry »

What Happened to Egalitarian New Zealand?

Bob Scott Lecture Series on Inequality, 25 June 2019. (See also Have We Abandoned the Egalitarian Society?) What I want to do this evening is examine egalitarianism. In particular, New Zealand is a less egalitarian society today than it was when I was growing up in the 1950s. Why? How? The structure of the paper…
Continue reading this entry »

Poverty and the Statistician

Presentation to the Wellington Statistics Group, 10 December, 2018 This year’s Child Poverty Reduction Act (CPRA) marks a major innovation in social policy. Politicians – here and overseas – have promised to eliminate child poverty at some date in the future. They never have and by the time the target date is reached the promisers…
Continue reading this entry »

Submission to the Social Services and Community Select Committee on the Child Poverty Reduction Bill

Note that some of the original submission proved redundant. For ease of presentation they have been removed. An explanation of what happened is set out here. (I have not changed the numbering.) Introduction My name is Brian Easton. I have a doctorate of science from the University of Canterbury and hold other qualifications in economics,…
Continue reading this entry »

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Paper to the Fabian Society, 12 October, 2016   While we continue to chew over the carcass of the Fourth Labour Government – the Lange-Douglas one – we pay little attention to the subsequent Fifth Labour Government. Yet the Clark-Cullen one is greatly shaping the current Labour Opposition and the current National Government. It will,…
Continue reading this entry »

Policy by Panic

In too many areas the government is avoiding taking policy decisions. When it has to its panic measures are knee-jerk and quick-fix. Just nine years ago, John Key, then leader of the opposition, spoke to the Auckland branch of the New Zealand Contractors Federation about housing affordability which he described then as a ‘crisis reached…
Continue reading this entry »

Do inequality and poverty matter?

A journalist’s list of the ten most important issues politically facing us did not mention inequality and poverty. Why? A month ago Fairfax political journalist Tracey Watkins listed the following ten areas to watch out for in the political year: Spies (especially the review and resulting legislation) Iraq (will the two year mission be extended?)…
Continue reading this entry »

Does Income Inequality Reduce Equality Of Opportunity?

Recent publications suggest that the children who live at the bottom in economies with high inequality have reduced life chances. The grandfather of modern distributional research is Tony Atkinson, a British economist who began in the 1960s a lifetime career studying the British and world income distributions and other related ones. He has been described…
Continue reading this entry »

What Is Happening At The Top Of The Income Distribution?

The increase of the share of those on top incomes has not been caused by market forces but is the result of their more favourable taxation regimes they have experienced since the early 1990s.  Policy Quarterly has just published papers from a symposium on distributional inequality held last June. There are really interesting papers by Geoff…
Continue reading this entry »

DOES INEQUALITY AFFECT ECONOMIC GROWTH?

The OECD says yes; how do we respond? Pundit: 15 December, 2014. Keywords: Distributional Economics; Growth & Innovation; A recently released OECD report concludes that economic inequality hurts economic growth, and has particularly done so for New Zealand. Some of our responses were plain bizarre. Either the non-economic commentators had not understood the issue or…
Continue reading this entry »

PENALISING THE POOR

Sloppy analysis is dividing us into the deserving and undeserving   Pundit: 3 November, 2014.   Keywords: Distributional Economics; Social Policy;   Being no expert on domestic violence, I looked at the Glenn inquiry’s The People’s Report to see what it had to say about causes. I had expected a summary of the research literature…
Continue reading this entry »