A fair chance for all

Breaking the disadvantage cycle


The Government has asked the Productivity Commission to prepare the Terms of Reference for a new inquiry into the drivers of persistent disadvantage within people’s lifetimes and across generations.

Have your say - call for public input and submissions

The Commission is encouraging public input to help develop the Terms of Reference. This is an opportunity for anyone with expertise or an interest in reducing persistent disadvantage to answer the questions below or make a submission by 27 August 2021 to help guide this work.

A fair chance for all


  • Scoping
    15 June 2021
  • Public engagement
    Feedback and submissions due by 27 August 2021
  • Terms of Reference to Government
    November 2021

Where should the Commission focus?

This inquiry will take an in-depth look at who gets stuck in persistent disadvantage, and what can be done to help break the cycle of that disadvantage. Please answer the questions below to help focus the inquiry on the areas that matter.

About you:

The inquiry

People facing persistent disadvantage see their opportunities shrink and can end up trapped in a vicious cycle. When people are trapped in disadvantage, it is not only bad for them, but all of society loses out.

For example, New Zealand has some of the largest gaps in the educational performance between children growing up in disadvantaged households and the rest in the world. The OECD has indicated many times that the low skills of that group is an issue holding back the whole of New Zealand. Lower skills lead to lower productivity, lower taxation revenues, higher welfare costs and lower wellbeing for everyone.

This inquiry is about finding effective ways to mitigate and eventually break the cycle of long-term disadvantage to help ensure that all Kiwis get a fair chance in life. There are three main purposes to this inquiry:

  • creating a clear, coherent and accessible summary of the trends in economic inclusion and social mobility in New Zealand, including the links between reducing persistent disadvantage and higher productivity, economic performance and wellbeing;
  • undertaking significant research to generate new insights about people facing persistent disadvantage in New Zealand; and
  • assessing what works and developing policy recommendations for breaking the cycle of that disadvantage.

For further information, read our consultation paper

What's next?

The Commission will consider all feedback and submissions, and engage with the public to develop a Terms of Reference (ToR) which will define the scope and focus of this inquiry. For example, before settling on the ToR we want to hear from people about what inclusion or success looks like to them? What outcomes are crucial for the wellbeing of Aotearoa’s tamariki, whānau and communities?

The ToR will be presented to Cabinet in November 2021. Subject to Cabinet approval, the Commission will then have 12 months to conduct the inquiry and present its findings and recommendations to Government.

Inquiry updates

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