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Scoop Feedback: The Vanishing Women Mystery

The following response was received today from the Retirement Commission, after the latest Letter From Elsewhere…. The Strange Case of the Vanishing Women… had been published.


Dear Ann

Thank you for email.

You will find the Standard Tables on the Statistics NZ website contain most cross-tabs by gender.

The Household Savings Survey has produced a very large and valuable database. The Net Worth of New Zealanders is the first report from this database to be produced. It is a top line summary report. As such, it focussed primarily on high level findings related to the level, composition and distribution of net worth across age groups. The report is not intended to be a comprehensive analysis looking at all variables across the distribution of wealth.

However, it is the database that is important. As you note, sex was one of the variables collected and it will be possible to analyse (as opposed to producing X-tabs) all the data by sex. You will see from the background material that Treasury and Waikato University are doing the analysis of the survey. This will include gender analysis.

Yours sincerely

Colin Blair


... Original Email To Retirement Commissioner ...

Dear Colin

Thank you very much for sending me a copy of the report on The Net Worth of New Zealanders. I was extremely surprised, however, to find that it contains absolutely no analysis by gender. This seems an extraordinary omission, given the obvious importance of gender in relation to lifetime income, student debt, and asset accumulation, and the marked preponderance of women among those aged 65 and over, particularly in the 85+ age group. The importance of gender is, if anything, increasing, as more women spend a longer period during their earning years unpartnered, and more women enter old age unpartnered.

It appears that sex was one of the variables in the initial data, so it should be possible to remedy the omission by putting out a supplement analysing the results by gender. Without any such analysis, the report's usefulness is severely diminished.

Yours sincerely

Anne Else


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