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Treasury Releases June round of Working papers

30 June 2005

Treasury Releases June round of Working papers and policy perspectives papers The Treasury today released its June round of Working Papers and Policy Perspectives papers.

Policy Perspectives aims to bring ideas, analysis and empirical research to bear on topical policy issues. The papers seek to share important insights from economic literature, international policy experience and Treasury research in a manner that is accessible to non-specialist audiences.

The papers released today are:

The Living Standards, Incomes and Accommodation Costs of Older New Zealanders Revisited (WP 05/03)

Returns to Scale, Technical Progress and Total Factor Productivity Growth in New Zealand Industries (WP 05/04)

Capital Shallowness: A Problem for New Zealand? (WP 05/05)

Women’s Participation in the Labour Force (WP 05/06)

Pricing in Wholesale Electricity Markets (PP Paper 05/03)

The Changing Gender Distribution of Paid and Unpaid Work in New Zealand (WP 05/07)

Summaries of the papers follow.

The full papers can be found at:


The five Working Papers released today are:

The Living Standards, Incomes and Accommodation Costs of Older New Zealanders Revisited (Roger Hurnard, Dean Hyslop and Ivan Tuckwell) In 2001 the then Ministry of Social Development published a comprehensive study of the living standards of older New Zealanders. The current paper revisits the estimated relationship between material well-being and the current income and accommodation costs of older people, and questions whether these factors have direct effects on well-being or proxy for other factors.

Returns to Scale, Technical Progress and Total Factor Productivity Growth in New Zealand Industries (Kevin J Fox)

This paper reviews and applies some recently proposed methods for separating total factor productivity (TFP) growth into contributions from technical progress and returns to scale, allowing for imperfectly competitive markets. The methods are applied to New Zealand data, using a recently available dataset on nine market-sector industries and the aggregate market sector, 1988-2002. The findings suggest that there has been little contribution from technical progress to TFP growth, but increasing returns to scale may have played a substantial role.

Capital Shallowness: A Problem for New Zealand? (Julia Hall and Grant Scobie)

There is now substantial evidence that New Zealand’s overall rate of economic growth relative to Australia’s has been lower in part because of lower levels and slower growth in our labour productivity. This then requires us to explore why the labour productivity is lower in New Zealand. This paper explores the extent to which a lower level of capital per hour worked (or lower capital intensity) is associated with less output per hour worked in New Zealand. We find that the capital intensity in New Zealand has not been increasing as fast as in Australia for nearly 25 years.

Women’s Participation in the Labour Force (Grant Johnston)

Labour force participation is a topical issue in New Zealand. It is well known that the participation of New Zealand women aged 25-39 is low in comparison with women in other OECD countries. There has been considerable interest in policies which might raise women’s participation. This paper provides a base of information on women’s labour force participation in New Zealand and in other OECD countries.

The Changing Gender Distribution of Paid and Unpaid Work in New Zealand (Paul Callister)

This paper explores five main questions regarding the gender distribution of work, primarily in the context of couples with young children. These are: How much total paid and unpaid work is carried out in New Zealand? How is this work shared between women and men? How does this compare with other countries? How might the mix of unpaid and paid work change in New Zealand in the future? Should gender equity in paid and unpaid work be a key part of the discussion about labour market participation rates?

The Policy Perspectives paper released today is:

Pricing in Wholesale Electricity Markets (Sharron Came and Max Dupuy)

Electricity prices for residential consumers in New Zealand rose 20%, adjusted for inflation, between 1996 and 2004. Given these price increases, it is not surprising that the New Zealand electricity market has come under increased scrutiny.

Some observers question the operation of the wholesale market, where a generator that announces willingness to produce electricity for a relatively low price is nevertheless reimbursed with the market price. This paper attempts to shed light on pricing in wholesale electricity markets, in New Zealand and around the world.


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