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photo of a table

Households whose incomes are not keeping up with price rises are experiencing a fall in their standard of living. Lower-income households feel the pinch more because necessities such as rent, mortgage payments, food, and fuel take up a large, and increasing, share of their income. Here we look at those lower-income households: who they are, what pressures they are under, what is being done to help them, and what more could be done. Read


In 1894, New Zealand introduced the world’s first minimum wage. Today, the minimum wage is still well and alive, growing faster than median wages since 2000. Over the same 20+ year period, there has been a substantial compression of the lower half of the wage distribution, leaving those at the bottom closer than ever to those at the top. But how much of this increase in lower wages can we attribute to the rise in minimum wage over time? Read

The COVID-19 pandemic will see very few winners. We will all come out poorer and worse off, but some will lose more than others. Low skilled workers, young workers, Māori and Pacifica workers are more vulnerable and likely to be hardest hit. These effects will exacerbate existing inequalities. Read

Cropped screenshot of interactive map

Back in August we noted that Auckland city (the urban area defined by Stats NZ) has as many people as the next 12 cities combined. We also showed a map dividing Auckland up into 12 areas with equivalent populations to the cities. Unfortunately, the map is now out of date as Stats NZ revised their population estimates in October. Read

State houses

Escalating housing costs across the country have put the squeeze on households, particularly renters on low incomes. This article looks at the demand for public (or social) housing, what’s being done about supply, and highlights emerging public housing hotspots across New Zealand. Read

One of the true tests of a society is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable members, particularly the old, the young, the sick, and the disabled. There is a lot of good with New Zealand and New Zealand policy. However, on assisting those unable to provide for themselves, our provisions for people unable to work due to a health condition is an area where we are increasingly failing. Read

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. Read

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. Read

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; Read

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. Read

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