OECD Productivity Working Papers

The OECD Productivity Papers are associated with the Global Forum on Productivity that provides a forum for mutual exchange of information and fosters international co-operation between public bodies with responsibility for promoting productivity-enhancing policies, including in undertaking joint policy analysis. It offers a platform for exchanging views, experiences and information, institutional and governance arrangements and government structures, with a view towards developing better policies. The Forum extends existing work in the OECD through a well-prioritised and coherent stream of analytical work serving the policy research needs of participants on the drivers of productivity growth.


Achieving New Zealand’s productivity potential

Productivity growth has slowed across most OECD economies since the mid-2000s. While important aspects of New Zealand’s economic performance have improved over this period, productivity growth is still comparatively low. This continues a long-run trend of poor productivity in New Zealand, which is the key reason why average incomes are still below the OECD average notwithstanding recent strong growth. Given that framework policy settings are often regarded as fit for purpose, this long-run track record has puzzled international and domestic economists for decades. The apparent disconnect between policy and performance naturally raises questions about the broad policy directions and institutions necessary to close New Zealand’s still-substantial productivity and income gaps relative to leading OECD economies. In an effort to provide some answers, this paper outlines the extent and nature of New Zealand’s long-run productivity underperformance and the broad economic reasons why lifting productivity has proven to be so difficult. On the basis of this diagnosis, the paper sketches out broad areas of policy reform that would help improve long-run growth in productivity and incomes. In some respects, this represents a new reform challenge with a focus on investing in the assets necessary to fully benefit from the important changes taking place in the global economy.


Keywords: innovation, technology diffusion, resource allocation, New Zealand
JEL: O3: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights; O2: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Development Planning and Policy; O12: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Economic Development / Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development; O43: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity / Institutions and Growth
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