An Economic Prosperity Index (EPI) is an increasingly common tool for assessing regional living standards and is a complementary indicator to GDP growth. This article provides a case study for South Wairarapa, measuring prosperity in its three main towns: Greytown, Martinborough and Featherston. The analysis reveals some challenges that policymakers will need to face, including low skill levels in Featherston and the ageing population in Greytown.
New Zealand has gained around 72,000 more people in the past year according to arrival card data, and we’re feeling the strain of squeezing all these extra people into our cities. But further analysis of visa data suggests that there are longer-term implications for these high arrival levels that, if left unchecked, could pose a problem for policymakers when we come off the high point in the business cycle.
The Living Wage is heralded as “the income necessary to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life. A living wage will enable workers to live with dignity and to participate as active citizens in society.” However, beyond the ideological hype, the following questions remain;
By having a minimum wage in New Zealand, we as a society are saying that the free market doesn’t come up with a fair wage when left to its own devices. However, simply raising the minimum wage is not necessarily going to help solve problems of poverty and inequality — and in some ways may harm those we are trying to help.
My apologises again – I will have to extend my break fromthe tax series of articles I was writing up (latestone was the fifth on goods and services taxes). While completing thearticle on the progressivity of taxes I realised that I needed to brieflymention how this interacts with inequality – but we haven’t had a discussionabout what inequality means, and why we care. As a result, I aim to talk aboutinequality a little bit here as a precursor for that!
Although the economic troubles of the last five years have been tough for the majority of New Zealanders, in the United States the middle class has had an exceptionally difficult time. In fact, even prior to the crisis, the US middle class had stagnated with the benefits of growth seemingly only heading to the wealthy. This squeezing of the US middle class raises an important question – is the same thing happening in New Zealand? The short answer is no, but let’s dig into the figures in any case.
Many of us have elderly relatives and friends whom we call in on regularly at home to offer help and companionship. Not only do these visits signal our love to those we care about, but they can be a crucial factor in allowing the elderly to remain in their own home. With supplementary home-based support services costing far less than rest home subsidies, this informal support also helps balance the Government’s books. In fact, home-based care is so cost-effective that an elderly person is likely to be forced into long-term residential care for clinical reasons, long before the move becomes the most economic option.
I recently saw the movie AmazingGrace. It’s a powerful, albeit Hollywood-style, retelling of thelife of William Wilberforce – the British politician who was instrumental inabolishing the slave trade throughout the British Empire. It’s the sort ofmovie that can make you pat yourself on the back and be pleased with how farsociety has come. But when future generations look back on us, it’s soberingto think they might judge us in the same light.
It’s six in the morning on a typical day in Bangkok. Near where I’m standing a man lays out his worldly possessions for sale on a rug. Thumbing his book, he settles down for a long and uneventful day. Nearby a mother of three is also starting her day. She fires the charcoal grill and gets to work chopping up day-old meat and vegetables. Although she will do a brisker trade than the gentleman with the rug, it’s not much of a living. This scene is typical of the developing world. But just a stone’s throw from this particular makeshift market is a bustling mega-mall where Bangkok’s growing middle class come to find an outlet for their new-found wealth.
Income inequality in New Zealand is likely to have increased sharply over the last two years as the recession will have disproportionately affected middle and lower income households. This increase will come on top of a small uptick in inequality in mid-2009.