December 21, 2016

New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (Inc)
Media release, 21 December 2016

NZIER’s Chief Executive Laurie Kubiak has congratulated the Hon Amy Adams on her appointment as New Zealand’s first Minister Responsible for Social Investment.

Prime Minister Bill English championed the social investment approach as Finance Minister. He has now backed that commitment with a high-ranking Cabinet Minister charged with driving the programme forward.

“A significant group of New Zealanders have missed out on improved living standards and life chances” Mr Kubiak said. "This remains a stubbornly persistent feature of our society despite years of active policy interventions, high social spending, and strong economic performance."

NZIER has just published a detailed working paper and a shorter Insight paper that examines the Government’s social investment approach to improving the lives of disadvantaged New Zealanders. The working paper was produced in collaboration with Victoria University’s Institute of Governance and Policy Studies, and aims to answer three questions: what is the social investment approach (and what is it not), how should it be applied and where would it be most productively applied?

Parts of the New Zealand social investment approach are not new and largely are a re-labelling of existing polices. There are, however some new, and internationally unique aspects, together with a clear intention to address long-term policy problems using new analytical and measurement tools to both define target populations and test results.

“We hope that our paper will help the Minister, her advisers and the New Zealand public better understand the promises and pitfalls of current social policies”, Mr Kubiak said. “If the social investment approach is not widely understood and supported, even well-designed, well-meaning policies risk under-performance, or even failure. That is why having a Minister Responsible for Social Investment with the full backing of the Prime Minister is so important, as we move into the practical phase of putting the building blocks – policies institutions, targets – in place to address the shortcomings of current policies and practices."

NZIER Insight Social investment – new right agenda or new wine in old bottles? and public discussion paper Defining social investment, Kiwi-style, are available from

For further information, please contact:
Derek Gill
Principal Economist & Head of Public Good Research
Ph +64 29 4415 983,