Category Archives: Statistics

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…
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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,…
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The Stability of Ethnic Identity and Reporting

Note written for circulation, December 2023 Ethnicity is not a well-defined notion for the majority of the population, but when asked for ‘official’ purposes (usually with a choice of tick boxes) most can ethnically identify themselves.  (Typically, they may check as many ethnicities as they wish.) In the Population Census data used here there is…
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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…
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NEW ZEALAND’S METHANE CLOUD

Summary:. Methane (CH4) is a greenhouse gas. Some methane comes from atmospheric carbon-dioxide which is fixed in grass, eaten by livestock, belched into the atmosphere and eventually returns to atmospheric carbon-dioxide. Before it breaks down, the methane molecules form a ‘cloud’ in the atmosphere which adds to global warming at a much higher rate per…
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Census Mess Can Be Resolved with a New One in 2021

I was commissioned by the ‘Dominion Post’ to write an opinion piece as part of their review of the anniversary of the 2018 Census. This is a slightly revised version of what they published. The main article is ‘365 days and still counting:  Census results still nowhere to be seen’.  An earlier ‘Pundit’ column is ‘The…
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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…
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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,…
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Been Counters

Statistical errors aren’t unusual – so it’s important to measure their effects.   Listener: 13th March, 2014   Keywords: Distributional Economics; Statistics;   There was a bit of flapdoodle recently when the Treasury and Statistics New Zealand owned up to having made an error in some household income statistics, which had a knock-on effect on…
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Economic Inequality in New Zealand: a User’s Guide: Key Points

Extracted from the full report published in The New Zealand Journal of Sociology, Vol 28, Issue 3, 2013, pages 9-66. (http://www.eastonbh.ac.nz/2013/12/economic-inequality-in-new-zealand-a-users-guide-summary/)   Keywords: Distributional Economics; Statistics;   Key Messages   Section 1: Why is Economic Inequality Important?   1. The section identifies four main issues as to why inequality may be important – equity –…
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Economic Inequality in New Zealand: a User’s Guide

Published in The New Zealand Journal of Sociology , Vol 28, Issue 3, 2013, pages 9-66.  http://ndhadeliver.natlib.govt.nz/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE18625730&dps_custom_att_1=ilsdb Keywords: Distributional Economics; Statistics; “When inequality is the common law of a society, the greatest inequalities do not call attention to themselves.” Democracy in America, A. de Tocqueville.   B. Perry (2103) Household Incomes in New Zealand: Trends…
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Top Market Incomes 1981-2011

Keywords: Distributional Economics; Statistics;     Introduction [1]   One of the few useful sources of market income information is incomes declared for tax purposes. Even so it has limitations.   It is administrative data and so is sensitive to changes in statute and administrative policy. Thus the definition of income is that set by…
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Inequality Claims

I reviewed “Inequality: a New Zealand Crisis”, Max Rashbrooke (ed) in “The New Zealand Listener” of 10 October, 2013. (http://www.eastonbh.ac.nz/2012/11/is-new-zealand-still-fair/). It elicited the following letter and my reply.   Keywords: Distributional Economics; Statistics;   We welcome Brian Easton’s review of Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis (“Books & Culture, October 19) and his acknowledgement that it…
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Commentary on Treasury’s Living Standards: a Short Guide to ‘Managing Risks”

This is a commentary of a Treasury document available at  http://www.treasury.govt.nz/abouttreasury/higherlivingstandards/hls-ag-risks-jan13.pdf             The living standards framework is at:             http://www.treasury.govt.nz/abouttreasury/higherlivingstandards I was asked to do this comment in a hurry. Some of the thinking is as superficial as that of a university professor (as we say in the trade).   Keywords:…
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Calculating Sen’s Real National Income for New Zealand

Keywords: Distributional Economics; Growth & Innovation; Statistics;   I have just realised that we can calculate Amartya Sen’s ‘real income’ measure  for New Zealand for a 30 year period, by combining our Statistics New Zealand estimates of national income with the Ministry of Social Development estimates of household gini coefficients. This note describes how this…
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University Rankings by PBRF Score [1]

    Keywords: Education; Statistics;   The PBRF (Performance Based Research Fund) score card has modified university behaviour substantially. This is not a paper about how that internal behaviour has changed. Rather it suggests that the scores may be used in different ways to draw quite different conclusions. Gilling’s law states that the way you…
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