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Past Public Policy Seminars

The Wellington Public Policy Seminar Series is an approximately monthly forum featuring recent research by Motu’s Senior Fellows and Affiliates, as well as other renowned national and international speakers. Upcoming seminars are available here.


Motu Public Policy Seminars aim to make existing knowledge more accessible for policy debates in New Zealand. They are intended to be accessible to people from the private sector, research community and government agencies who want to be informed about public policy issues such as infrastructure, water quality, climate change, housing, and immigration.The series has been running since October 2003. The series aims to disseminate the results of our research and to foster discussion with individuals from other organisations. Our seminars provide a forum for informed debate on important public policy issues.

Our seminars are attended by people from diverse backgrounds who want to stay informed on economic, social and public policy research. Seminars are held in Wellington and are free to the public. You do not need to register for seminars to attend. Sign up to receive seminar notices here.

Our Public Policy Seminar Series is generously sponsored by Martin Jenkins, The TreasuryStatistics New Zealand, and the Auckland Policy Office. 



Previous Seminars

You can view information from previous Public Policy Seminars held in Wellington here. Recordings, presentation slides and related papers are included where available.

2014 Seminars
2013 Seminars
2012 Seminars
2011 Seminars
2010 Seminars
2009 Seminars
2008 Seminars
2007 Seminars


Education and Risk

Speaker: Dr Joop Hartog, Emeritus Professor of Economics, Amsterdam School of Economics

While it is obvious that schooling is an investment with uncertain pay-offs, the relevant literature is scant and ongoing research is modest. Based on his recently published and ongoing work, Dr Hartog will document international evidence on the magnitude of risk, survey theory, and present estimates of risk compensation in market wages for several countries, both for employer risk and employee risk. Dr Hartog will also discuss the link with issues in economic policies. 

You can listen to Joop’s talk or view his two different slide presentations.


How Much Energy Do Building Energy Codes Really Save? Evidence from California

Speaker: Arik Levinson, Professor, Georgetown University and Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, U.S.A.

Construction codes that regulate the energy-efficiency of new buildings have been a centerpiece of US environmental policy for 40 years. California’s 1970’s-era building codes were projected to reduce residential energy use by 80 percent. Arik Levinson discussed how effective they have been. Arik Levinson is a professor in the Economics Department of Georgetown University in the U.S.A., where he teaches microeconomics, public finance and environmental economics. His recent work has focused on environmental policy, including analysis of energy efficiency regulations, and research into the efficacy of linking international environmental agreements to trade policy. Arik is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and has served as a co-Editor of the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, a member of the EPA’s Environmental Economics Advisory Committee, a Senior Economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisors, and a Gilbert White Fellow at Resources for the Future. Arik also appeared on the radioshow Freakanomics on 5 February talking about this issue.

You can listen to Arik’s talk.


Back from the Dead? Australia’s Climate Policy

Speaker Frank Jotzo, Associate Professor and Public Policy Fellow, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

Australia’s climate change policy has been through several extreme shifts following changes in government. In this talk Frank Jotzo mapped out political and economic parameters of Australia’s climate policy, discuss key features of those policies, and speculate on how the rollercoaster ride might continue. Frank Jotzo is Associate Professor and Public Policy Fellow at the Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy, where he works on the economics and policy of climate change, energy, and broader issues of environment and development. He was advisor to Australia’s Garnaut Climate Change Review and to Indonesia‘s Ministry of Finance. He currently collaborates with Chinese organisations on research on climate and energy policies, and advises the World Bank on carbon markets. He is also a Lead Author of the Fifth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

You can listen to Frank’s talk or download his presentation.

Achieving the Depopulation Dividend: Evidence and Experience from Japan’s Shrinking Regions

Speaker Peter Matanle, School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield

Peter Matanle is a lecturer at the University of Sheffield’s School of East Asian Studies. Dr. Matanle’s research interests focus on the economic sociology and cultural geography of work in Japan and the United Kingdom. He is the author of several publications in these fields, including Japanese Capitalism and Modernity in a Global Era: Refabricating Lifetime Employment Relations (RoutledgeCurzon, 2003); Perspectives on Work, Employment, and Society in Japan (Palgrave, 2006; co-edited with Wim Lunsing); and “Coming to a City Near You: Learning to Live Beyond Growth in Japan’s Shrinking Regions” (Social Science Japan 13:2, 2010). He is also the founder and general editor of the Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies (

You can download Peter’s presentationread some of Peter’s work, visit his website or download audio of his talk.



Climate Policy – Can Small Countries Make a Difference?, Wellington, 14 April 2014

Speaker Frank Convery, Senior Fellow, University College Dublin, and Chairman, 

This presentation will review recent developments in European climate policy, notably the European Commission’s proposals for new legally binding emissions targets for greenhouse gas emissions and for renewables, followed by a discussion on how Ireland designed and implemented a carbon tax on greenhouse gas emissions from the non-traded sectors. The presentation will conclude with an assessment of the prospects for implementation of the Commission’s proposals, and the role of small countries in leading some areas of climate policy.

Download Frank’s slides.

Measuring Sustainable Development, Wellington, 10 April 2014

Speaker Nick Hanley, Professor of Economics, University of Stirling

The World Bank uses a measure known as Genuine Savings (comprehensive investment, adjusted net savings) to measure the sustainability of a country’s growth path. However, there is very little empirical testing of this measure. In this presentation, I report results from a unique study which uses data from a 250 time period to test genuine savings as an indicator of future well-being for the UK, the USA and Germany. This work is funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

Download Nick’s slides. Download audio of Nick’s presentation.


Recessions and Recoveries in New Zealand’s Post-War Business Cycle Wellington, 23 October 2013

Speaker Viv Hall, Emeritus Professor of Economics, Victoria University of Wellington, and Motu Affiliate

Discussant Dr. Kirdan Lees, NZIER

Has New Zealand’s recent recession been its most severe? Does calling a recession based on two successive quarters of negative real GDP growth provide potentially misleading signals to policy and other decision makers? Have New Zealand’s real GDP and employment cycles been closely associated, and should employment peaks and troughs additionally be taken into account when calling the beginning and end of a recession? How different has the recovery path from New Zealand’s most recent recession been? Evidence relating to these and other questions will be presented from recent work co-authored with Dr John McDermott (RBNZ).

Download Viv’s presentation slides. 

Developments in Cultural Economics Wellington, 25 September 2013

Speaker Ruth Towse, Professor of Economics of Creative Industries and Co-Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management, Bournemouth University; Erskine Fellow 2013.

For a long time in its 50-year history, cultural economics was concerned almost exclusively with the subsidised arts and heritage and issues around their finance, demand and participation. Another topic that relates to their costs was the study of the labour markets and  employment of creators. Later on, the notion of creative industries and the creative economy has come to the fore, with the emphasis shifting towards a much broader spectrum of cultural activities and the role of copyright law in these industries. Recently, digitisation has altered a number of these industries, and cultural economics is coming to terms with that.

Science and Innovation Policy for New Zealand Wellington, 4 September 2013

Speaker Adam Jaffe, Director, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research; Fred C. Hecht Professor in Economics, Brandeis University. 

Discussant Veronica Jacobsen, Director, People, Science and Innovation Policy, Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment.

A country’s ability to develop and use new technologies is a major determinant of its long-run ability to improve its standard of living and confront health, environmental and other social challenges.  Maximizing New Zealand’s technological progress requires a coordinated set of policies regarding strategic investment in scientific research, appropriate institutions to facilitate commercial exploitation of public research, and policies that facilitate commercial development and use of new technology.  Devising the right policy mix for New Zealand requires learning from successful and unsuccessful policies in other countries, but adapting those lessons to the specifics of New Zealand’s strengths and challenges.

Download Adam’s presentation slides; download audio of Adam’s presentation.

Comprehensive and Multi-Modal Urban Transport Planning. Wellington, 22 May 2013

Speaker: Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute

Transport planning is experiencing a paradigm shift; that is, a change in the way that problems are defined and solutions evaluated. The old paradigm is mobility-based. It assumes that the planning objective is to maximize travel speed, and evaluates transport system performance based primarily on automobile travel conditions. A new paradigm recognizes that the ultimate goal of most transport activity is accessibility, which refers to people’s overall ability to reach desired services and activities. This new paradigm expands the range of modes objectives, impacts and options considered in the planning process. It recognizes additional costs from increased motorized transport and more benefits from walking, cycling and public transport. More comprehensive and multi-modal planning is particularly important to respond to structural changes such as aging population, rising fuel prices, increasing health and environmental concerns, and changing consumer preferences.

Download Todd’s presentation slides; download audio of Todd’s presentation

Life after Kyoto: How New Zealand Can Effectively Help Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Developing Countries. Wellington, 20 February 2013.

Speaker: Dr. Suzi Kerr, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research. For more detail, and audiovisual material, see Suzi’s 2012 seminar

Cities: the need to understand better before we mess about with them. Wellington, 25 January 2013.

Speaker: Professor Paul Cheshire, London School of Economics. For more detail and audiovisual material see Paul’s 2012 seminar.


Cities: the need to understand better before we mess about with them. AUDIO AND SLIDES FROM WELLINGTON SEMINAR NOW AVAILABLE
Auckland, 14 December 2012, and Wellington, 25 January 2013.

Speaker: Professor Paul Cheshire, London School of Economics

Cities have fundamental advantages and contribute directly to human welfare. Indeed they are probably the most important invention in our history. Over the past 20 years in China, alone, the growth of cities has probably rescued more people from abject poverty than in any previous period in the world’s history. Urbanisation delivers higher living standards because cities themselves deliver higher economic productivity but also greater welfare for their residents. They do this by means of the specialisation and agglomeration benefits they sustain.

But cities change - some grow, some decline - as external factors conditioning their development alter. 20 years ago we in OECD countries were obsessed with ‘urban decline’ but now in many cities that has given way to resurgence. As the structure of output has been transformed and manufacturing has declined in the rich countries the new and growing sectors benefit more intensively from agglomeration economies and are less disadvantaged by the traditional problems of large cities - high costs of space and congestion. The increasing importance of agglomeration economies goes hand in hand with an increasing pay-off to skills; and an increasing concentration of skilled labour in larger cities. This has the downside that the increasing present prosperity of cities is linked to increasing inequality. There are costs as well as benefits of city size. As cities get bigger so congestion, crime and the price of space increase but the most recent research suggests that these costs are neither as significant nor as inevitable as was once thought.

Despite the critical importance of cities for economic and social wellbeing we have still developed powerful urban policies without any supporting evidence; indeed without really understanding what makes cities work so well. We have policies in the name of sustainability that put tight growth constraints on our cities. We know these have damaging economic effects but it seems possible they don’t deliver any reduction in carbon footprint. We have policies to impose ‘mixed communities’ but the evidence suggest that while this costs significant resources it achieves nothing in the way of reducing inequality. On the other hand there is clear evidence that residential segregation is the spatial manifestation of societal inequality and that the varied types of community and neighbourhood that sorting within cities generates contributes to the welfare of the great majority of urban residents. In Europe we have policies to divert growth from larger cities to small and medium sized ones in the name of ‘balanced urban development’. But the importance of agglomeration economies suggests exactly the opposite policy would be economically better and already we impose ‘containment’ boundaries to restrict the growth of our large cities. The huge price premium we observe at the urban boundary if land can be re-zoned from agriculture to urban use is, in effect, the price we pay for lost agglomeration economies. In short we are in danger of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. We really need to understand better how cities ‘work’ and what the unintended consequences of our policies might be before we act.

Download the Auckland presentation slides; download the Wellington presentation slides

Download the Wellington audio

Related publications

See the Spatial Economics Research Centre Blog here

Creating a Seller: How New Zealand Can Effectively Help Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Developing CountriesAuckland, 23 November 2012.

Speaker: Dr Suzi Kerr, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.

Without effective developing country participation in climate mitigation it will be impossible to meet global concentration and climate change targets. However, developing countries are unwilling and, in many cases, unable to bear the mitigation cost alone. They need huge transfers of resources - financial, knowledge, technology, and capability - from industrialised countries. At the same time, New Zealanders want to make a meaningful contribution to the global climate mitigation effort and face rapidly rising costs of mitigation at home. We need to fund mitigation / buy emission units from developing countries. The Kyoto Protocol offered one approach to coordinating international mitigation but has run into many challenges. New Zealand’s emissions trading system that was designed to respond to Kyoto is now very weak; prices are low and the emission units available for us to buy are of low quality. Many key industrialised country emitters have dropped out of the Kyoto Protocol, and it has been unable to adapt to involve developing countries in more meaningful ways. The key existing approach to funding developing country mitigation, the ‘Clean Development Mechanism’ is clumsy, has high transaction costs, focuses on a few large countries and has low environmental integrity. New efforts are now emerging at the international level (top down) and at the national or regional level (bottom up). In this new world it is hard to gauge the seriousness of efforts but it is certain that they are insufficient and poorly coordinated. A large part of these problems is inherent to the challenge of getting seven billion people to cooperate on an issue where costs fall on those who fund mitigation but all gain the benefits - no effort will fully escape this difficulty. How can we, as a globe, do better, and what could New Zealand’s role be in that? This presentation will draw on recent work within the agricultural sector in New Zealand, as well as work in Chile, Colombia, Korea and at a more fundamental conceptual level to propose some new ways forward for New Zealand and others to effectively promote mitigation action in developing countries.

Download seminar slides

Related publications
Watch a short film “The New Zealand Farming Story: Tackling Agricultural Emissions
& read Motu Working Paper “Cooperation to Reduce Developing Country Emissions

Email us for a copy of the recording

The Allocation of Water by the New Zealand Electricity Market: effects of particular climatic changes. Wellington, 8 November 2012.

Speaker: Professor Lewis Evans, Victoria University of Wellington

This seminar shows the way the electricity market utilises river flows and the effect of changes in characteristics of these flows on the production and consumption of electricity. It shows how the reservoirs and non-hydro generation are utilised in generation decisions, to shift water use over time to meet seasonal and daily peak consumer demands. It explains how characteristics of the river flow and changes in them are translated into longer term, hedge and retail prices. 

The seminar draws on two strands of research that ISCR conducted under the Motu project ‘Integrated Research on the Economics of Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation’.

Email us for a copy of the recording


The Green Paradox of the Economics of Exhaustible Resources. Wellington, 5 November 2012.

Speaker: Professor Robert Cairns, McGill University, Montreal.

The green paradox states that an increasing tax on emissions of carbon dioxide, consonant with expected increase in their marginal damages, may induce oil producers to shift their production toward the present and thereby to exacerbate the problem of climatic change. The model is based on Hotelling models of resource use that do not take the natural and technical features of oil production into account. When these features are taken into account, the prediction of the green paradox is unlikely.

View seminar slides


Promoting Growth in All Regions. Wellington, 4 September 2012.

Speaker: Jose Enrique Garcilazo, Unit for the Rural and Regional Development Program, OECD.

Recent OECD analysis highlights the importance of promoting growth in all regions, and in particular intermediate regions hosting medium size cities. This analysis reveals that although economic activity tends to concentrated in space—in particular in major urban cities—economic efficiency does not; and in fact can occur in different types of regions. The contribution by lagging regions to aggregate growth is quite substantial; roughly almost as important as the contribution from the most developed ones. Although there is no magical “one size all fit” formula that can be applied to all regions for promoting growth, the analysis finds that the most important growth drivers are specific to the region—these being in particular infrastructure, human capital, innovation and agglomeration. Perhaps the most important findings are, first, that the key factors are largely endogenous - i.e. they are items policy can address (as opposed to natural endowments or physical geography) - and, secondly, that these endogenous factors complement each other, suggesting that an integrated approach is needed. Therefore the role of policies and institutional factors is critical. In the past most policies aimed at supporting backward regions sought to “prop them up” through fiscal transfers and subsidies, an approach that yielded very poor results. This report provides fresh analysis that calls for a new approach. The analysis shows how relatively backward regions can in fact be potentially important sources of growth, but that a very different approach is needed to tap that potential.

View seminar slides; New!: listen to a recording of the PPS.


Improving the Quality of Housing: How Public Policy can Promote Multiple BenefitsWellington, May 9th & Auckland, May 10th.

Speakers: Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, Director, He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme, University of Otago, Wellington, and Dr Arthur Grimes - Senior Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

Considerable evidence now exists that housing quality affects health status. Sub-standard housing contributes to respiratory disease and impacts negatively on other health and social outcomes. Energy use is inefficient in poorly insulated houses, while poor heating choices can both increase energy use and decrease health status. This seminar outlines key findings from a programme of research into healthy housing issues in New Zealand conducted by Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman and colleagues at He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme, University of Otago. In a recent study, University of Otago researchers joined with researchers from Motu and elsewhere to evaluate initial impacts of the Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart programme This programme is designed to promote installation of retrofitted insulation and healthy heating options in over 188,000 houses over 2009-2013. Results from this initial evaluation will be presented in the context of the broader healthy housing research programme.

Seminar slides

Related papers:

Cost Benefit Analysis of the Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart Programme

Warming Up New Zealand: Impacts of the New Zealand Insulation Fund on Metered Household Energy Use

The Impact of Retrofitted Insulation and New Heaters on Health Services Utilisation and Costs, Pharmaceutical Costs and Mortality: Evaluation of Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart

Impacts of the NZ Insulation Fund on Industry and Employment

Four reports are now available: an overall cost-benefit analysis of the programme, and three more detailed reports on Warm Up New Zealand’s effects on energy usehealth services utilisation, and industry and employment


Taxpayers’ behavioural responses and the ‘Laffer Effect’Wellington, April 19th.

Speaker: Professor Norman Gemmell, Chair in Public Finance at Victoria University of Wellington.

The empirical literature on the elasticity of taxable income (ETI) sometimes questions whether estimated values are consistent with being on the revenue-increasing section of the Laffer curve, usually in the context of a single rate tax system or for top marginal rates. This paper develops conceptual expressions for this ‘Laffer-maximum’ or revenue-maximizing ETI for the multi-rate income tax systems commonly used in practice. Using the New Zealand income tax system in 2010 to illustrate its properties, the paper demonstrates that a wide rangeof revenue-maximizing ETI values can be expected across individual taxpayers,across tax brackets and in aggregate.

Seminar slides

Related paper Revenue-Maximising Elasticities of Taxable Income in Multi-Rate Income Tax Structures

Managing Water Quality Using Markets. Auckland, April 4th.

Speaker: Dr Suzi Kerr, Senior Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.

New Zealand sells itself as clean and green, yet that reputation is threatened by deteriorating water quality. Addressing water quality effectively requires good science, economic efficiency, community support and cultural change. Motu, along with NIWA and a broad team of researchers and stakeholders, have run an integrated five-year programme focusing on a subset of these issues within the Lake Rotorua catchment. Water quality in Lake Rotorua has been declining for at least 30 years as increased levels of nutrients have entered the lake. Despite significant effort and expenditure, the level of nutrients entering the lake still exceeds desired levels. Suzi will present a prototype nutrient trading scheme for Lake Rotorua that was developed with local stakeholders and builds on the Lake Taupo experience. The trading scheme aims to meet the community’s environmental goals in a certain and cost-effective way, maximise participant flexibility and distribute costs fairly. We are synthesising general lessons from this programme that are now being used by Regional Councils around New Zealand and in processes such as the Land and Water Forum. Suzi will discuss how markets might be used more widely and present some key lessons from Rotorua for New Zealand.

Seminar slides

Related papers:

Water Quality Symposium, 3rd April 2012 - Abstracts and Papers

Nutrient Trading in Lake Rotorua: Design, Implementation and Enforcement - Legal Issues

Nutrient Trading Programme: Enforcement Issues

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Global and Local Fairness in Climate PolicyWellington, March 21st.

Speaker: Thomas Sterner, Professor of environmental economics at the University of Gothenburg.

Global climate change stands out from most environmental problems because it will span generations and forces us to think in new ways about intergenerational fairness. It involves the delicate problem of complex coordination between countries on a truly global scale. As long as fossil fuels are too cheap, climate change policy will engage all major economies. The costs are high enough to make efficiency a priority, which means striving toward a single market for carbon-plus tackling the thorny issues of fairness. The latter is the focus of Sterner’s talk. Sterner will discuss some necessary ingredients for a long-term global climate strategy and stresses that as we wait for the final (and maybe elusive) worldwide treaty, we must find a policy that makes sense and is not only compatible with, but facilitates the development of such a treaty. He also challenges the cwonventional wisdom that gasoline taxation, an important and much-debated instrument of climate policy, has a disproportionately detrimental effect on poor people. Increased fuel taxes carry the potential to mitigate carbon emissions, reduce congestion, and improve local urban environment. As such, higher gasoline taxes could prove to be a fundamental part of any climate action plan. However, they have been resisted by powerful lobbies that have persuaded people that increased fuel taxation would be regressive. Reporting on examples of over two dozen countries, this book sets out to empirically investigate this claim. The authors conclude that while there may be some slight regressivity in some high-income countries, as a general rule, fuel taxation is a progressive policy particularly in low income countries.


Do our conservation programmes work? Economic Evaluation of Biodiversity ProjectsWellington, March 22nd.

Speakers: Ross Cullen, Professor of Resource Economics at Lincoln University, & Kathy Baylis, Assistant Professor in Agriculture and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois.

There are limited funds available for conservation projects. Choices must therefore be made on how to use limited resources most effectively, and such decisions should be based on clear and measurable objectives for achievement. Project selection and evaluation methods are used patchily by biodiversity project providers and researchers. Conventional methods for evaluating conservation impact tend to be biased because they do not compare like areas nor do they account for spatial relations. Ross Cullen will provide an introduction to biodiversity project evaluation; outline the range of economic evaluation methods available; and focus attention on the need to overcome hurdles to adoption and continuation of economic evaluation methods. Kathy will describe a recent study applying a spatial analysis on the effectiveness of a forest (and Monarch butterfly habitat) conservation program in Mexico. The study assesses the effect of a 
conservation initiative that combined designation of protected areas with payments for environmental services to conserve overwintering habitat for the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) in Mexico.

Ross’s paper has recently been published as Cullen, Ross. 2012. “Biodiversity Protection Prioritisation: A 25-Year Review,” Wildlife Research, early-access online at


Saving a super scheme - The economics of PAYGO and SAYGO retirement schemes in New ZealandWellington, March 8th.

Speaker:  Dr Andrew Coleman, Senior Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
Discussant: Dr Malcom Menzies, Research Manager at the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income. 

Nearly fifty years ago, Peter Diamond showed that prefunded (save-as-you-go) retirement scheme require much smaller contributions for any level of retirement incomes than pay-as-you-go retirement schemes if the return to capital investments is larger than the growth rate of the economy. Since then, a voluminous 
international literature has examined the comparative merits of the types of schemes. In general, this literature has shown that there would be significant efficiency gains from making a full or partial conversion to SAYGO funded retirement scheme, but that there are difficult transition issues. This talk examines the economics of PAYGO and SAYGO funded saving schemes in New Zealand. It argues that it is likely that the annual tax contributions needed to support the current New Zealand Superannuation scheme could be halved if the scheme were fully converted to a SAYGO scheme, and that feasible transition paths to a partially funded SAYGO scheme exist. Converting New Zealand’s retirement scheme to a SAYGO funding basis is therefore a possible solution to the issues associated with population ageing. A comparison with Australia, where people are reaping the rewards of making the transition to a mixed SAYGO-and PAYGO pension scheme, is offered.

Related papers:

Saving New Zealand: Pay-As-You-Go versus Save-As-You-Go Superannuation SchemesSaving New Zealand: Pay-As-You-Go versus Save-As-You-Go Superannuation SchemesMotu Note #8: PAYGO v SAYGO: Prefunding Government-Provided Pensions

Motu Note #8: PAYGO v SAYGO: Prefunding Government-Provided Pensions

Motu Note #7: Behavioural Economics: Implications for the Savings Literature

Motu Note #6: Mandatory Retirement Income Schemes, Saving Incentives, and KiwiSaver

Motu, NIDEA, and the University of Waikato Workshop  Population Ageing and the Labour Market - sessions and papers


Weitzman, Martin. 2011. “The economics of climate change: Why is it so difficult and controversial?,” Wellington and Auckland seminar, co-hosted with NZIER and The Treasury, December.

View the video recording of Professor Weitzman’s Auckland seminar here

Economic analysis of what to do about climate change has sometimes been described as an economist’s nightmare. In this lecture, Dr Weitzman tries to explain why this particular application of cost-benefit analysis is more difficult than other, more ordinary, applications - and what it might mean. 
The audience should come away with an appreciation for why the economics of climate change is so controversial and why economics is unlikely to come up with crisp sharp answers about what exactly to do about it.

Rapson, David. 2011. “The smart grid and residential electricity use: What we know, what we don’t, and the case for collaborating with academic researchers,” Motu Wellington and Auckland Public Policy Seminar, November and December.

When it comes to electricity use, people don’t respond to price as much as many might expect. At the same time, behavioral nudges and technological defaults have been shown to produce meaningful demand responses. New technologies that comprise the so-called “Smart Grid” offer several opportunities to leverage these insights into behavioral change. However, translating these insights into policy is fraught with potential pitfalls. In this talk I will discuss how to make the most out of these new technologies (or, more precisely, how to figure out how to make the most of them). I will show why randomized field experiments are invaluable in this setting, and explain why regulators and public utilities stand to benefit immensely from collaborating with academics on research design.

Sanderson, Lynda. 2011. “International engagement and performance of New Zealand firms,” Wellington Public Policy Seminar, August.

Alcock, Frank. 2011. “Deepwater Horizon: What happened, why and where do we go from here?,” Wellington Public Policy Seminar, 1st June.

Seminar slides (2.4MB)

Sin, Isabelle. 2011. “International Diffusion of Ideas,” Wellington Public Policy Seminar, 23rd March.

Seminar slides (488KB)

Listen to the seminar recording here on Youtube (37 minutes).

MacKenzie, Ian. 2011. “Is Cap-and-Trade Failing? Corrective Policies for the Future”. Wellington Public Policy Seminar, 3rd March.

Download Ian’s seminar slides here.

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Poot, Jacques. 2010. “Economic Impacts of Immigration”. Wellington Public Policy Seminar, 16th December.

Griffith, Rachel. 2010. “Public Policy and Growth”. Wellington Public Policy Seminar, 9th December.

Tienda, Marta. 2010. “Migration and Youth Development: Insights from a Child Centric Approach”. Wellington Public Policy Seminar, 4th November.

Stroombergen, Adolf. 2010. “General Equilibrium Analysis of CO2 Mitigation Options”. Wellington Public Policy Seminar, 23rd September.

Cook, Len. 2010. “Social Sciences, Public Policy, and Difficult Decisions”. Wellington Public Policy Seminar, 26th August.

Oaxaca, Ronald. 2010. “The Challenge of Measuring Labour Market Discrimination Against Women”.  Wellington Public Policy Seminar, July.

Stillman, Steven. 2010. “Which Tongans move to New Zealand via the Pacific Assess Category quota, and how does it change their lives?” Wellington Public Policy Seminar, May.

Ritchie, Felix. 2010. “Microdata for policy research: lessons from the UK experience,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, March.

Somanathan, E. 2010. “The “tragedy” of the commons,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, March.

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McCann, Philip. 2009. “Economic geography, globalisation and New Zealand’s productivity paradox,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, December. 

Maré, David C. 2009. “Labour productivity in Auckland firms: There’s something about the city,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, October.

Grimes, Arthur. 2009. “The need for speed: Impacts of internet connectivity on firm productivity,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, October.

Coffey, Shaun. 2009. “Investing in High-Tech,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, September.

Oxley, Les. 2009. “China’s Energy Economy: Substitution possibilities, market integration and some possible environmental implications,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, August.

MacCulloch, Robert. 2009. “Happiness, Contentment and other Emotions: Implications for Economic Policy,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, June.

Sheppard, Stephen. 2009. “The Economics of Liveable and Sustainable Cities,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, June. 

Kerr, Suzi. 2009. “Climate change policy: stepping back and moving forward,” Motu Economic and Public Policy Seminar, May.

Maani, Sholeh. 2009. “The Economic Impact of High Human Capital Immigration on the NZ Labour Market,” Motu Economic and Public Policy Seminar, April.

Bedford, Richard. 2009. “International migration in Kiribati and Tuvalu: A context for evaluating the impact of global warming on population movement in atoll territories,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, March.

Gibson, John. 2009. “Why do most of NZ’s best and brightest leave and what brings some of them back?” Motu Public Policy Seminar, February.

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Gulati, Sumeet. 2008. “Evaluating Tax Rebates for Hybrid Vehicles,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, December. 

Grafton, Quentin. 2008. “Bioeconomic Losses from Overharvesting Tuna,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, November. 

Coleman, Andrew. 2008. “The Hidden Costs of Low Inflation: Savings, Tax and the Dearth of Home Ownership,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, October. 

Jenkins, Stephen. 2008. “The Dynamics of Social Assistance Receipt: Measurement and Modelling Issues, with an Application to Britain” Motu Public Policy Seminar, October. 

Kerr, Suzi. 2008. “Nutrient Trading in Lake Rotorua: A Prototype System” Motu Public Policy Seminar, September. 

Roson, Roberto. 2008. “The Economic Impacts of Climate Change” Motu Public Policy Seminar, August. 

Clark, William A. V. 2008. “Spatial Relocation as an Instrument of Social Policy” Motu Public Policy Seminar, July. 

Hyslop, Dean. 2008. “Does cyclical employment growth lower wages?” Motu Public Policy Seminar, June. 

Gemmell, Norman. 2008. “Taxes and Economic Growth: what is all the fuss about?” Motu Public Policy Seminar, May. 

Mays, Nicholas. 2008. “Did New Labour ‘save’ the English National Health Service: a ten-year retrospective, 1997-2007,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, April. 

Lavy, Victor. 2008. “Monetary incentives for students and teachers in schools: Experimental evidence and policy implications,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, January.

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Gunningham, Neil. 2007. “Innovative governance and smart regulation: Institutional and regulatory regimes for a water-constrained world,” Motu/Landcare Research seminar, December. 

Fabling, Richard. 2007. “The performance of New Zealand exporters: Some firm-level evidence,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, December. 

Poot, Jacques. 2007. “Twenty years of econometric research on trans-Tasman migration,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, November.

Kerr, Suzi. 2007. “Key issues in the design of an emissions trading system for New Zealand,” Motu Public Policy Seminar, September.