New Zealand

   

Social Policies

#6
Key Findings
With high educational attainments and a strong health system, New Zealand falls into the top ranks internationally (rank 6) with regard to social policies. Its score on this measure has fallen by 0.2 points relative to its 2014 level.

The country’s education policy delivers high quality, equitable and efficient education and training, with early childhood achievement a particular strength. The new Labour government introduced free tertiary education for first-year undergraduates. The health care system generally provides high quality services, though gaps between Māori and non-Māori health outcomes remain substantial.

Social-security benefits are comprehensive, but high housing costs are a growing problem for the poor. The new government has launched an affordable-housing construction program. Child-poverty rates remain a concern. Women’s labor-market participation rates are still well below that of men, but paid parental leave has been extended to 26 weeks, and family benefits have been increased.

Pension policies prevent poverty. Private pension plans are increasingly popular, but have been criticized for a lack of transparency. Record immigration figures were reached in 2017, but the NZ First government-coalition party has been instrumental in pushing a longer-term plan to reduce net immigration substantially by tightening up on work and student visas.

Education

#9

To what extent does education policy deliver high-quality, equitable and efficient education and training?

10
 9

Education policy fully achieves the criteria.
 8
 7
 6


Education policy largely achieves the criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Education policy partially achieves the criteria.
 2
 1

Education policy does not achieve the criteria at all.
Education Policy
8
New Zealand’s education policy continues to deliver high quality, equitable and efficient education and training. According to the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2018 Report, performances across all levels of New Zealand’s education sector compare well with those in other developed countries, especially in relation to early childhood achievement. Young New Zealanders are more likely to leave school sooner, entering the workforce and perhaps returning to further education when they’re older. Accordingly, employment rates for youth are high relative to other OECD countries. While New Zealand spends less per student than the OECD average, as a percentage of total public expenditure it remains one of the highest in the OECD.
Literacy and problem-solving in technology-rich environments are higher than OECD averages across all education levels, while numeracy skills are closer to the OECD average. Around 14% of tertiary qualified adults in New Zealand have a qualification in engineering, manufacturing or construction, compared with an average of 18% across OECD countries. This group is closely followed by graduates with a qualification in science, mathematics or computing, at 13% some two percentage points above the OECD average.
Teacher statutory salaries start lower than the OECD average, although they increase faster. However, they reach a maximum level lower than the OECD average. The gap between the salaries of teachers and other similarly-educated workers is smaller in New Zealand than it is in many other OECD countries.
Although public investment in tertiary education is high, an increasing proportion of it goes to students as loans and grants rather than as direct funding to institutions. As a result, public expenditure on tertiary education as a percentage of total public spending remains one of the highest in the OECD. International students are a key feature of the national education system. New Zealand has a large proportion of tertiary students who are international students, especially at doctoral level where 45% of students are international students.
Participation in vocational programs is also high, as are levels of part-time study and adult participation rates in non-formal education. While today’s adults are significantly more educated than their parents across all OECD countries, New Zealand’s educational upward mobility has been faster than the OECD average, which partly reflects higher levels of qualified immigrants in New Zealand than in most other OECD countries.
During the 2017 election campaign, Labour promised fee-free tertiary education for first year students. In contrast, the first budget of the new government failed to hand out new operational funding for universities and polytechnics. Another campaign promise concerned the abolition of National Standards in schools and from 2019 schools will no longer have to report on them annually. The decision was welcomed by the teachers’ and principals’ unions but opposed by the opposition National and ACT parties, which argued that this would make it more difficult to secure the promised improvement in student achievement. In spring 2018, the government also introduced legislation to shut down charter schools. This prompted strong criticism, including from Māori educators who had helped to set up some of these schools. Eventually, a compromise allowed charter schools to stay open, with the proviso that they seek approval as special character state schools – which almost all have done.

Citations:
OECD. 2018. Education at a Glance 2018. OECD Indicators. (http://www.cnedu.pt/content/noticias/internacional/Education_at_a_glance_2018.pdf.
Dougan, Patrice, 2016. NZ students’ results decline, but still above OECD average – PISA report. New Zealand Herald. 6 December 2017 (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/education/news/article.cfm?c_id=35&objectid=11761505 ).
Stuff 2017. National Standards have officially ended in primary schools across the country. 12 December 2017. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/99774465/national-standards-have-officially-ended-in-primary-schools-across-the-country
Stuff 2018. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/106697887/planned-closures-of-charter-schools-prompt-debate-about-mori-selfdetermination

Social Inclusion

#16

To what extent does social policy prevent exclusion and decoupling from society?

10
 9

Policies very effectively enable societal inclusion and ensure equal opportunities.
 8
 7
 6


For the most part, policies enable societal inclusion effectively and ensure equal opportunities.
 5
 4
 3


For the most part, policies fail to prevent societal exclusion effectively and ensure equal opportunities.
 2
 1

Policies exacerbate unequal opportunities and exclusion from society.
Social Inclusion Policy
7
New Zealand has a long tradition of support for a more egalitarian society. Governments have established a comprehensive system of social security benefits, including income support. Increased efforts have been made to reduce general disparities, most evident between New Zealand Europeans and the Māori, Asian and Pasifika populations. With regard to gender equality, based on the ratio of female-to-male earned income, New Zealand has slipped back in recent years, although a pay gap of 9.4% in the June 2017 quarter, dipping slightly to 9.2% in June 2018, places New Zealand in the top third among the OECD countries. The gender pay gap in the New Zealand Public Service is currently larger than the national average (around 12.5%). The rate of unemployment among Māori youth decreased in 2018, though it is still significantly higher than the national average.

In recent years, there has been growing public awareness of the incidence of child poverty. Despite efforts to target resources to low-income families and beneficiaries, child poverty levels remain high. The Labour-led government has promised to halve child poverty over the next 10 years. There are doubts as to whether this is a realistic goal, but new policy measures have been implemented, including cash and housing assistance to low-income families, winter energy improvements in rental accommodation, and new benefits for newborns. Housing is an ongoing and substantial social problem, especially for low-income families. Coupled with the high costs involved in renting or owning a residential property, low-income families often live in unhealthy, substandard accommodation. Today, the median house price in Auckland is about 10 times the median household income. In 2017 the incoming Labour-NZ First government pledged to build 100,000 affordable houses within the next ten years. More importantly, it passed a ban on foreign buying of residential homes (excluding Australians and Singaporeans). Whether these measures will improve access to affordable, quality housing for low-and middle-income families remains unclear. Early indications would suggest that the goal of 10,000 affordable homes per year is excessively ambitious.

Citations:
OECD. 2018. Poor children in rich countries: why we need policy action. http://www.oecd.org/els/family/Poor-children-in-rich-countries-Policy-brief-2018.pdf
Ministry for Women. 2018. Government plan to fix women’s pay. 26 July 2018; https://women.govt.nz/news/government-plan-fix-women%E2%80%99s-pay
Stats NZ. 2018. Gender pay gap is second-smallest. 15 August 2018, https://www.stats.govt.nz/news/gender-pay-gap-is-second-smallest.
Key facts https://www.stats.govt.nz/information-releases/labour-market-statistics-septembe r-2018-quarter
CTU Monthly Economic Bulletin – September 2018.

Health

#1

To what extent do health care policies provide high-quality, inclusive and cost-efficient health care?

10
 9

Health care policy achieves the criteria fully.
 8
 7
 6


Health care policy achieves the criteria largely.
 5
 4
 3


Health care policy achieves the criteria partly.
 2
 1

Health care policy does not achieve the criteria at all.
Health Policy
8
New Zealand’s public health care policies achieve high-quality and inclusive health care for most citizens but, similar to other OECD countries, cost efficiency and long-term public spending pressures remain an issue. The OECD points out that the largest projected long-term public spending pressure is health care, which is expected to jump from 6.2% of GDP in 2015 to 9.7% of GDP by 2060, owing to both aging demographics and the expected increase in expensive new treatments. The gap in health status between Māori and non-Māori is still substantial. Much has to do with differences in behavior and lifestyle, particularly regarding smoking-related illnesses and obesity. During the 2017 election campaign, the three parties that now represent the government announced plans to improve primary care. In particular, Labour committed to increase the intake to 300 GP training places per year and to initiate a review of primary care funding. In May 2018, the new government announced a review of the health and disability system with a report due to be published in 2020. Health was the main winner in the governments first, cautious budget, goals for which included a NZD1.52 billion increase in health spending for the 2018-19 year (the 2017 National government had increased funding by NZD825 million). The majority of the new funding is for capital investments in building and restoring hospital buildings (NZD750 million) and boosting the support fund for District Health Boards in deficit (extra NZD100 million). Other measures included extending coverage of free doctors’ visits and prescriptions to children up to the age of 13 years (resulting in free visits to an estimated 56,000 extra children), and extending access to low-cost doctors’ visits for those low-income New Zealanders holding Community Services Cards.

Citations:
OECD Health Statistics 2016 (http://www.oecd.org/els/health-systems/health-data.htm).
Ministry of Health. 2018. Life expectancy. 2 August 2018. https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/populations/māori-health/tatau-kahukura-māori-health-statistics/nga-mana-hauora-tutohu-health-status-indicators/life-expectancy
Health Central NZ. 2018. Health Budget 2018 at a glance: winners, losers & the “wait & sees.” 18 May 2018. https://healthcentral.nz/health-budget-2018-at-a-glance-winners-losers-thewait-sees/

Families

#11

To what extent do family support policies enable women to combine parenting with participation in the labor market?

10
 9

Family support policies effectively enable women to combine parenting with employment.
 8
 7
 6


Family support policies provide some support for women who want to combine parenting and employment.
 5
 4
 3


Family support policies provide only few opportunities for women who want to combine parenting and employment.
 2
 1

Family support policies force most women to opt for either parenting or employment.
Family Policy
8
While the labor force participation rate for women is increasing, it remains below the OECD average. The gender wage gap is narrowing. Participation of women in the labor force, including business and politics, is still well below that of men. Family violence remains a problem in New Zealand. In September 2018, the so-called Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill passed its second reading in parliament with unanimous support, although the bill had not been passed and enacted by the end of the review period. In July 2018, implementation of a new Families Package (signed into law in December 2017) began. Its provisions include: increasing the rate of paid parental leave from 22 to 26 weeks from July 2020; the introduction of a Winter Energy Payment for beneficiaries including pensioners; a NZD60-per-week payment to low and middle-income families with babies and toddlers; reinstating the Independent Earner Tax Credit; and increasing benefits for orphans, unsupported children and foster careers. When the package is fully implemented in 2020, it is estimated that 384,000 families will benefit.

Citations:
Stuff. 2018. Govt’s families package takes effect: ‘Step in the right direction.’ https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/360801/govt-s-families-package-takes-effect-step-in-the-right-direction
New Zealand Parliament. 2017. Record number of women MPs in New Zealand Parliament. https://www.parliament.nz/en/get-involved/features/record-number-of-women-in-new-zealand-parliament.
New Zealand Herald. 2018. Amendments proposed to Family and Whānau Violence Bill. 12 September 2018. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12123619.

Pensions

#15

To what extent does pension policy realize goals of poverty prevention, intergenerational equity and fiscal sustainability?

10
 9

Pension policy achieves the objectives fully.
 8
 7
 6


Pension policy achieves the objectives largely.
 5
 4
 3


Pension policy achieves the objectives partly.
 2
 1

Pension policy does not achieve the objectives at all.
Pension Policy
6
New Zealand’s pension system is tax-based. The universal pension for those aged 65 and over is neither income nor asset tested. It is relatively efficient, as it prevents poverty in old age with a relatively low level of public spending, measured as a percentage of GDP. According to the OECD, 10.6% of over 65s in New Zealand were considered to be living in poverty compared to the OECD average of 12.5%. However, among those 76 and over, 15% were in poverty compared to 13.9% across the OECD.
The most recent innovation in this area is KiwiSaver, introduced in 2007, a publicly-subsidized private pension plan offered on a voluntary basis. KiwiSaver has come under public scrutiny because of a perceived lack of transparency around account fee charges. Another public debate concerns where the KiwiSaver funds are invested. For example, it was revealed that KiwiSaver had been investing in tobacco and weapons’ companies.
In the longer term, however, demographic changes mean that more effort must be made to encourage private savings as part of a strategic plan to address public sector affordability issues and intergenerational equity challenges, especially if the government sticks to its plan to reduce immigration by substantial numbers. New Zealand’s recent history of economic downturn and rising unemployment discouraged private saving. As conditions have improved, however, the issues of intergenerational equity and affordability have focused attention on reform. The OECD has suggested improving fiscal sustainability through the raising of the retirement age, while slowing the pace of growth in benefit payments, and through removing subsidies, especially to high-income members. In March 2017, the National-led government published plans to lift the pension age from 65 to 67 by 2040 and require migrants to live in New Zealand for 20 years, rather than 10, before becoming eligible for a pension. These plans notwithstanding, under the Labour-led government the age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation is set to remain at 65.

Citations:
Joining KiwiSaver, http://www.kiwisaver.govt.nz/statistics/monthly/ (accessed January 18, 2018).
Nippert, Matt, Tutty, Caleb, 2016. Dirty secrets revealed: ANZ announces review amidst KiwiSaver furor. New Zealand
Davison, Isaac, 2017. English’s Super policy may not survive election. New Zealand Herald. 7 March 2017 (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11813022).
OECD Pensions at a Glance 2017, https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/social-issues-migration-health/pensions-at-a-glance-2017_pension_glance-2017-en;jsessionid=tAlGQiVe_Wa03-gH7IQS6ITT.ip-10-240-5-100

Integration

#2

How effectively do policies support the integration of migrants into society?

10
 9

Cultural, education and social policies effectively support the integration of migrants into society.
 8
 7
 6


Cultural, education and social policies seek to integrate migrants into society, but have failed to do so effectively.
 5
 4
 3


Cultural, education and social policies do not focus on integrating migrants into society.
 2
 1

Cultural, education and social policies segregate migrant communities from the majority society.
Integration Policy
8
New Zealand is a prime destination for immigrants. Typically, New Zealand attracts between 40,000 and 50,000 new immigrants each year. 2017 saw a record net permanent and long-term migration into New Zealand of approximately 70,000 persons. International Travel and Migration statistics showed an actual net gain of 63,000 migrants from January to August, down from 72,000 in the year to August 2017.
The increasing numbers of immigrants who become New Zealand citizens reflects the country’s willingness to promote integration. Based on labor market and education system indicators, integration policy has been moderately successful. New legislation was enacted in 2015 to ensure that migrant workers had the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand. These measures are reflected in the views of most immigrants who are satisfied with their situation. According to statistics collected by New Zealand’s General Social Survey, 87% of immigrants feel fully integrated and perceive no significant differences in economic living standards compared with the native-born population. The government expects that the Immigration Global Management System (IGMS) and the Global Service Delivery Model (GSDM) will improve matters further. In April 2016, the new Global Impact Visa policy was announced. It is a collaborative public-private sector approach to attract international applicants with sought-after skills. To some degree, the overall positive performance has to do with the fact that New Zealand employs a points-based selection system that helps to attract immigrants who are relatively self-sufficient financially and can be easily integrated into the labor market. Indeed, the Immigration Act 2009 clearly stated for the first time that skilled immigration is preferred in New Zealand. More problematic are the challenges for lesser-skilled immigrants, who experience difficulties in settling in New Zealand when they are unable to bring over other family members. Despite agreeing to the UN Global Compact for Migration (UNGCM) in December 2018, the coalition government emphasized that it will stick to its longer-term plan to target a reduction in net immigration of 20,000-30,000 people per year, by tightening up on work and international student visas. The NZ First party, which is known for its conservative stance on immigration, will continue to push for even lower immigration during the present government’s term.
There are a number of reasons for the shift in New Zealand’s immigration policy. Primary among these is the strain on the main urban centers caused by the rising population, which has been led by inward migration. Property prices in Auckland and other cities have increased exponentially in the past few years, which has made houses unaffordable for many citizens, generating discontent. Congestion on the roads and public transport systems has increased, while growing demand has affected the delivery of key public services like health and education. The government believes that lower immigration would reduce the pressure on the housing market and other infrastructure. However, critics warn that tighter immigration policy could result in slower economic growth and an aging population. Despite its commitment to reduced migration, the Labour-NZ First government has been under growing pressure to attract new immigrants in such fields as construction, teaching and the health sector. Achieving a balance between the demands of its populist junior coalition partner and the needs of a growing economy has been one of the Labour-led government’s greatest challenges.

Citations:
Immigration Amendment Act 2015: http://www.immigration.govt.nz/migrant/general/generalinformation/news/immigrationamendmentact2015.htm (accessed October 24, 2015).
Hawke, Gary. 2018. New rhetoric but old policy for New Zealand. http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2018/02/07/new-rhetoric-but-old-policy-for-new-zealand/
http://country.eiu.com/article.aspx?articleid=487518232&Country=New%20Zealand&topic=Economy

Safe Living

#6

How effectively does internal security policy protect citizens against security risks?

10
 9

Internal security policy protects citizens against security risks very effectively.
 8
 7
 6


Internal security policy protects citizens against security risks more or less effectively.
 5
 4
 3


Internal security policy does not effectively protect citizens against security risks.
 2
 1

Internal security policy exacerbates the security risks.
Internal Security Policy
8
New Zealand’s internal security is the responsibility of the police. Internal security threats are also addressed through a Combined Threat Assessment Group (CTAG) which involves staff seconded from the NZ Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS), the New Zealand Police, the New Zealand Defense Force, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), the New Zealand Customs Service and Maritime New Zealand. CTAG provides assessments on terrorist or criminal threats intended to create physical harm to New Zealand citizens or affect New Zealand interests at home or overseas, based on all information sources within the New Zealand government. The NZSIS and the GCSB provide advisory services. In August 2016, the New Zealand Intelligence and Security Bill 2016 was introduced. The bill has reformed legislation and enhanced transparency of New Zealand’s intelligence and security agencies. Expenditures for public order and safety are relatively high and growing. Crime is a salient issue for New Zealanders. Recent crime statistics show a considerable decline in criminal offenses – partly as a result of an aging society in which the age groups that statistically commit more crimes are shrinking, and partly as a consequence of increased expenditures for police, criminal justice and prison services. However, there was a minor increase in the victimization rate for the last couple of years due to an increase in burglaries. Due to internal opposition from NZ First, the new government abandoned efforts to appeal the Sentencing and Parole Reform Act 2010 (the so-called “three strikes law”).

Global Inequalities

#10

To what extent does the government demonstrate an active and coherent commitment to promoting equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries?

10
 9

The government actively and coherently engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. It frequently demonstrates initiative and responsibility, and acts as an agenda-setter.
 8
 7
 6


The government actively engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. However, some of its measures or policies lack coherence.
 5
 4
 3


The government shows limited engagement in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. Many of its measures or policies lack coherence.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute (and often undermines) efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries.
Global Social Policy
9
New Zealand is committed to tackling global socioeconomic inequalities. The Commitment to Development Index 2017 (Center for Global Development), which compares 27 of the world’s richest countries on their dedication to policies that benefit people living in poorer nations, ranked the country 10th.
Free access to global markets for developing countries is high on the government’s agenda. Geographically, New Zealand focuses on countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and in the South Pacific, although significant funding is channeled through multilateral and international agencies.
The change of government in October 2017 brought a fresh commitment to multilateralism and to international cooperation among open societies. The new government took steps to shore up aid to Pacific Islands, in order to counter growing Chinese influence in the region. The 2018 budget saw a boost of nearly NZD 1 billion over four years for Foreign Affairs, mainly for development assistance in the Pacific.
New Zealand is one of around 37 countries that take part in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) regular refugee resettlement program. Each year New Zealand resettles 750 refugees – since July 2018: 1,000 – through the Refugee Quota Program. The quota will rise to 1,500 refugees in 2020. The Labour-led government also created a special refugee visa category to resettle Pacific Islanders displaced by climate change. Finally, after some reluctance, New Zealand signed the UNGCM in December 2018. The main opposition, the National party, has opposed New Zealand’s agreement to the UNGCM. Its leader has said that the party would pull the country out of the pact if it comes to power following parliamentary elections due by November 2020.

Citations:
Aid Statistics – Donor Aid at a Glance: New Zealand: http://www.oecd.org/dac/stats/documentupload/NZL.JPG (accessed October 13, 2014).
The Commitment to Development Index 2017. Center for Global Development (https://www.cgdev.org/commitment-development-index-2017)
New Zealand Immigration. 2018. New Zealand Refugee Quota Programme. https://www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/what-we-do/our-strategies-and-projects/supporting-refugees-and-asylum-seekers/refugee-and-protection-unit/new-zealand-refugee-quota-programme
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