The State of the State
New Zealand 2016
Social investment for our future
We believe New Zealand is a great place to live, work and play. And research shows government’s finances are in relatively good shape – at least for now. But we face significant economic and social challenges that need urgent attention. A combination of the ageing population, low productivity and revenue growth, and the need to reduce government debt will impose huge fiscal pressures in coming decades. More importantly, we know that too many people in our society are experiencing poor life outcomes and too many of their children are at risk of following them.
These factors have driven us to focus on broadening the use of social investment to support New Zealand’s most vulnerable people. Wider use of this approach in our social sector is likely to prove valuable in managing our future fiscal challenges and supporting better outcomes for Kiwis.
- Download the report
- Crown finances
- What is social investment?
- Why does an investment approach matter?
- Challenges to adopting social investment
- Social investment: people
- Social investment: place
- A model for social investment
The State of the State is a review of the government’s financial position, and the implications for public policy in New Zealand. In 2016, the focus is on social investment – the new approach to improving the quality of life outcomes for those most in need.
New Zealand is amongst a group of advanced nations that have seen poor, and sometimes negative, results from increased social sector spending in recent decades. Despite our efforts, government data shows groups in our society who have persisting poor life outcomes. If left unchecked, the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage will continue in these groups, and future generations of New Zealanders will be left with both higher costs and a less fair society to live in. More >
Most governments in the developed world would welcome a set of accounts like those of New Zealand. Despite imposing austerity measures, many other OECD governments are burdened with significant debt, yet are nowhere near returning to a scenario where their revenue exceeds their expenses. As a consequence, many government balance sheets are loaded with rising debt and high debt servicing costs.
In contrast, the New Zealand government’s books are in good shape for now. The post-global financial crisis (GFC) target of returning to operating surplus was achieved in June 2015, the first surplus in seven years. More >
Why does an investment approach matter?
Current social services do not always address the needs of New Zealanders with poor life outcomes. This can lead to long term negative impacts.
With low cost education, affordable healthcare, and a temperate climate, New Zealand should be the perfect place to live.
However, while most people in New Zealand are flourishing, some children, young people and adults experience alarmingly poor outcomes. Further, we don’t always know how effective taxpayers’ money is in improving their circumstances. More >
Social investment: people
The premise of social investment – investing in vulnerable citizens today to realise social and financial benefits in the future – fundamentally involves the Millennial generation in two ways: as the beneficiaries of its success, and as the generation that will be largely responsible for its implementation. More >
Social investment: place
Making good policy choices requires the best available data. New Zealand’s social data is collected by a number of independent administrative agencies, each of which divides the country into different regional territories. Each data set captures a different population, which makes comparisons across the social policy domains difficult and creates challenges for the
social investment approach. More >