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Regional Economic Performance in New Zealand: How Does Auckland Compare?

  • Geoff Lewis
  • Steven Stillman

    ()

    (The Treasury)

In this study we investigate Auckland’s economic performance relative to other large cities in New Zealand, to medium-sized urban centres and to small towns and rural areas. Measures of regional economic performance are not well developed in New Zealand and there is a relative lack of official data at the regional level. Previous measures developed by two non-governmental organisations have suggested that Auckland is “underperforming” relative to other regions in New Zealand. However, neither of these measures satisfactorily capture productivity performance by areas that are classified according to the density of economic activity that takes place within them. We use data from the annual New Zealand Income Survey to examine hourly earnings and other measures of labour productivity and utilisation for a number of regional areas. Our results tell a fairly consistent story. Auckland and Wellington have the highest levels of productivity performance based on almost all measures of earnings. In particular, both have significantly higher average levels of labour income, and wage rates than the three other comparison areas. Auckland has also experienced stronger growth in wages, in particular for wage/salary workers, than other regions. Our findings cast doubt on the hypothesis that Auckland has been a productivity underperformer within New Zealand. In fact, Auckland appears to be a relatively good performer and this is consistent with agglomeration economies being at work in New Zealand’s largest urban concentration. However, because we limited our investigations to within New Zealand we are not able to say how Auckland’s productivity performance compares to innovative, high-skill cities in other countries. Given New Zealand’s overall poorer performance in labour productivity and the rather modest wage rate growth that we find even for Auckland, it is unlikely to have been as good.

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File URL: http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/research-policy/wp/2005/05-08/twp05-08.pdf
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Paper provided by New Zealand Treasury in its series Treasury Working Paper Series with number 05/08.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nzt:nztwps:05/08
Contact details of provider: Postal: New Zealand Treasury, PO Box 3724, Wellington, New Zealand
Phone: +64-4-472 2733
Fax: +64-4-473 0982
Web page: http://www.treasury.govt.nz

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  1. Ciccone, Antonio & Hall, Robert E, 1996. "Productivity and the Density of Economic Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 54-70, March.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Jed Kolko & Albert Saiz, 2000. "Consumer City," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1901, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Guy Dumais & Glenn Ellison & Edward Glaeser, 1997. "Geographic Concentration as a Dynamic Process," NBER Working Papers 6270, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Stuart S. Rosenthal & William C. Strange, 1999. "Geography, Industrial Organization, and Agglomeration," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 14, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
  5. Rauch James E., 1993. "Productivity Gains from Geographic Concentration of Human Capital: Evidence from the Cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 380-400, November.
  6. Barry T. Hirsch & Edward J. Schumacher, 2004. "Match Bias in Wage Gap Estimates Due to Earnings Imputation," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 689-722, July.
  7. Glaeser, Edward L & Mare, David C, 2001. "Cities and Skills," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 316-42, April.
  8. Marco Manacorda, 2004. "Can the Scala Mobile Explain the Fall and Rise of Earnings Inequality in Italy? A Semiparametric Analysis, 19771993," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 585-614, July.
  9. Edward L. Glaeser, 1998. "Are Cities Dying?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 139-160, Spring.
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