The March Towards Poverty: Why the Labour Government has much more to deal with than the economic consequences of Covid-19 in its upcoming budget
Abstract. The New Zealand economy is in a parlous state and not simply because of the economic fall-out associated with the pandemic. For decades now, New Zealand has been falling further and further behind its OECD partners, with institutional inefficiencies, poor policy making and the almost willful refusal of successive governments to admit to (let alone confront) mounting economic problems, all combining to place us on the edge of a deep, and lasting, economic downturn. Across a broad plethora of areas and key economic indicators, New Zealand lags behind almost every other advanced country against which it has traditionally measured itself. These areas include the three pillars of social wellbeing (education, health, and social welfare), housing, tax, productivity and debt. In every case, we are either falling behind outcomes achieved in other countries (education, health, productivity), entrenching inequality through our failure to cater for the needs of our most vulnerable (housing, health, education, social welfare, tax), or failing to prepare adequately for looming economic and social costs - including those incurred by a rapidly aging population. If ignored, these problems will precipitate a crisis that may make the burden of recovering from Covid-19 pale by comparison (superannuation, health, debt). In its much anticipated post-Covid budget, the Labour Government needs to not only provide a clear blueprint for helping those who have been adversely affected by the pandemic and New Zealand’s subsequent lockdown, but also signal its intention to tackle the systemic weaknesses which have placed our economy at such risk, and which threaten to consign our future generations to unwelcome, and unnecessary, economic and social hardship.
Keywords. Covid-19, New Zealand economy.JEL. I12, J13, Z12, D13.
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