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.

During July and August the Commission sought feedback from across Aotearoa to help shape the Terms of Reference. The Commission would like to thank all those who lent their perspectives, experience, research or policy inputs into this important mahi.

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

Thank you for your feedback

We would like to thank over 1,000 people who completed our online form, made a submission, met or talked with us - particularly those with lived experience of persistent disadvantage who shared their experiences and perspectives with us. View submissions.

A summary of the feedback received, together with the key themes that emerged, is being compiled and will be shared on this website.

What's next?

All feedback is currently being reviewed and considered as the Terms of Reference is being developed - it defines the scope and focus of this inquiry. 

The Terms of Reference 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.

All feedback will continue to be used as the inquiry begins and further opportunities to participate will be opened up.

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

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