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Can the kiwi fly? Achieving productivity lift off in New Zealand


Paul Conway

Date published

28 June 2018

Download [648 KB PDF]

New Zealand’s poor long-run productivity performance has puzzled domestic economists and international observers for decades. To provide answers, this paper sketches out the broad reasons why lifting productivity has proven so difficult. Against the background of ongoing changes in technology and in the global trading environment, the article also puts forward a number of high-level policy suggestions aimed at countering the economic forces that have constrained productivity, including opening the economy to new opportunities for interna-tional connection, and encouraging capital deepening, greater competition and more effective innovation. Getting this right requires a deep understanding of New Zealand’s productivity track record and potential in the 21st century global economy and presents a major challenge for the New Zealand public sector.


Productivity growth

The goal of our research is to facilitate a move from an economy that grows by using more “inputs” (such as labour or natural resources), to one where productivity plays a greater role in driving economic growth – essentially, working smarter, with greater financial and knowledge capital employed per worker.

Our research explores a wide range of productivity issues: employment, firm dynamics, technology diffusion, innovation, regional development, spatial and public-sector productivity.

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Our Economics & Research team is independently evaluated every two years to understand how to improve and enhance our impact. See the latest evaluation report and 2020 survey results here.


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