Diagnosing weak productivity growth: prescriptions from the New Zealand Productivity Commission

Monday, July 4, 2016
OECD, Paris, France

Global Forum on Productivity Seminar
Paul Conway | Director – Economics & Research
New Zealand Productivity Commission


Despite extensive reform from the mid-1980s, the New Zealand economy has suffered from weak productivity growth for a number of decades. This has proven to be a headache for domestic and international economists working on New Zealand and much energy has gone into trying to explain the apparent paradox. In this presentation, Paul Conway will outline recent work by the Productivity Commission aimed at understanding the broad economic reasons why lifting aggregate productivity has proven to be so difficult in New Zealand over recent decades. Much of this work has been done at the firm level based on the insights in “The Future of Productivity”. Given a diagnosis of New Zealand’s productivity issues, the presentation will sketch out the broad directions in which policy must move to improve investment in the assets necessary to benefit to the full from the fundamental changes currently taking place in the global trading environment.

Paul Conway is the Director of the Economics & Research Team at the New Zealand Productivity Commission. He leads the Commission’s work on understanding the broad drivers of  NewZealand’s productivity performance and the role of policy in improving it. He is also Chair of the Productivity Hub, a cross-agency collaboration of productivity researchers in the New Zealand public sector. Paul is an economist with extensive international experience and has previously worked with the OECD, the World Bank, Westpac and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. His work has included studies on the impact of regulation on competition and productivity in New Zealand, China, Russia and India, as well as broader OECD-wide analysis. Much of Paul’s recent work with the Commission has focused on understanding productivity at the level of New Zealand firms.