Category Archives: Social Policy

The Benefits and Costs Of Gambling: Some Policy Implications

Commissioned Report: April 2010 Keywords: Health; Regulation & Taxation; Social Policy; Executive Summary The following is not the usual executive summary. Rather it draws out the policy implications of the known costs and benefits of gambling, thereby summarising the main report, which consists of two parts. Appendix I is a general account about how economists…
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The Complete Package

Sue Bradford’s departure leaves a huge gap in the Greens, and Parliament. Listener: 12 December, 2009. Keywords: Regulation & Taxation; Social Policy; To work properly, the market must be “complete” – that is, all possible transactions must be able to be carried out. For example, those who invested in finance firms such as Bridgecorp should…
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New Insights into the Experienced Generations

Speech to Launch the Report “New Insights into the Experienced Generation” for the Hope Foundation, 30 July 2009   Keywords: Social Policy; Statistics;   This report represents a further step to our understanding of ourselves as a society. Only a few decades ago we treated all New Zealanders as the same, with the implicit assumption…
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Equity and the Tax System

Tax, Saving Welfare and Retirement: Have We Lost our Way? Symposium, Retirement Policy and Research Centre, University of Auckland, 16 July, 2009   Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Maynard Keynes   Keywords: Distributional Economics; History of Ideas, Methodology &…
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Understanding the Fiscal Imperatives

Paper for Towards a Value Driven Public Sector Summit, 15 July, 2009.   Keywords: Macroeconomics & Money; Regulation & Taxation; Social Policy;   Before talking about the fiscal imperatives in the narrow sense, I want to make a couple of general remarks about the rhetoric of policy. .   The first is that the need…
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The Economic Crisis: Where Does Acc Fit In?

Paper to the summit “Reviewing New Zealand’s Accident Compensation System” Wellington, 29 June, 2009.     Keywords: Macroeconomics & Money; Social Policy;    The world is facing a global financial crisis with the international system malfunctioning, as many banks – which provide the means of payment and facilitate investment – having to limit their lending…
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Evidence to the Human Rights Review Tribunal

The case involved a number of parents of disabled adult children who claimed that the Ministry of Health discriminated against them, by not paying them for services for which it would pay outside carer. For more detail see . My role was a very small one dealing with the costs. Keywords: Health; Social Policy;…
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Incentives Matter: Incentive Design Matters More

Listener: 22 March, 2008. Keywords: Social Policy; Statistics; “Incentives matter” is a routine part of economists’ thinking. Tax a commodity, its price goes up and there is an incentive to reduce consumption. Reduce the tax, the price goes down and the incentive goes the other way. But many real-life circumstances are more complex, and the…
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The Globalisation Of a Welfare State

Chapter 3 of New Zealand, New Welfare, edited by N. Lunt, M. O’Brien & R. Stephens. (Cenage Learning, 2007)   Keywords: Globalisation & Trade; Labour Studies; Social Policy;   In March 1952, just two men were on the Department of Social Security’s unemployment benefit. The rules of entitlement partly determine the numbers, but those registered…
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Mortgage Stress: How Much Has It Risen?

This note was commissioned by the Sunday Star Times (5 August, 2007)   Keywords: Distributional Economics; Macroeconomics & Money; Social Policy;  In the year to June 2004, 3.7% of all households suffered ‘mortgage stress’ defined as having at least 40% of their disposable income being used to service their mortgage. This definition of mortgage stress…
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Research and Destroy

Studies of race relations are sometimes used to bolster prejudice, not reveal the truth.    Listener: 10 February, 2007.     Keywords: Health; Maori; Social Policy;    Don Brash’s January 2004 Orewa speech may have been a key event in New Zealand race relations. The earlier foreshore and seabed decisions had stirred a restlessness about…
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What Does the 2004 Living Standards Report Tell Us?

This was submitted to, posted 3 August, 2006.  Keywords: Distributional Economics; Social Policy; Statistics;  The New Zealand Living Standards 2004 report depends entirely upon its “Economic Living Standards Index” (ELSI), first used in the previous (2000) report. At that time I expressed reservations about the index. Many have not been addressed. What I do…
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Is New Zealand the Best Place in the World to Bring Up Children?

Presentation to the Wellington WEA, 25 July 2005.

Keywords: Social Policy;

There is one outstanding fact about New Zealand poverty. Choose any reasonable poverty line, and you will find that over 80 percent of the poor are children and their parents. The figure would be even higher if one included other adults living in households with children. The economic problem of poverty is overwhelming children and the families they live in.

The Caring Tax: Why Do We Rate Minding Sheep Ahead Of Raising Children?

Listener: 21 May, 2005.

Keywords: Regulation & Taxation; Social Policy;

There is no consensus as to whether mothers should or should not go out to paid work and put their young children into childcare. The research says that it depends on family circumstances and the availability of care, together with the culture of the society. The policy conclusion must be that we should leave the decision to the primary carer and her or his family. But if we pursue a strategy of such neutrality, we should ensure that other aspects of public policy do not bias the family decision.