Stephen Jenkins awarded Distinguished Fellow of NZAE

Stephen JenkinsStephen Jenkins is Professor of Economic and Social Policy at the London School of Economics. He is one of the world’s leading scholars in the economics of inequality and poverty. He has contributed significantly to applied econometrics and in doing so, his work has addressed topics such as the rise in top incomes and their contribution to recent increases in inequality, how to measure poverty persistence and assess which factors trigger exits from a poverty spell. Stephen has also researched related topics such as labour market participation and the tax and benefit system. An honours graduate from the University of Otago, Stephen held a junior lectureship at Massey University. He then obtained his doctorate from the University of York, UK on Inequality and Intergenerational Continuities in Lifetime Income (1983) which was supervised by Tony Atkinson. Thereafter followed a range of university appointments at the Universities of Bath, Essex (as Professor of Economics at the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER), and ISER Director) and Swansea (Professor of Applied Economics). In addition to this, Stephen has held a number of notable positions that includes Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Economic Inequality (2014–17), President of the International Association for Research on Income and Wealth (2006–8) and of the European Society for Population Economics (1998) as well as the R.I. Downing Fellow, University of Melbourne in 2009. Stephen has maintained close links with researchers in New Zealand. He has served as a consultant to the New Zealand Treasury in 1994, and took part in a Treasury-organised conference in 2016. An examination of his very impressive list of publications to date underlines both the quality and impact of his outstanding research. Stephen has collaborated extensively not only with Tony Atkinson, but he has also written with other leading scholars in his field such as Andrea Brandolini and François Bourguignon. His work has appeared in a long list of leading Economics journals that includes Economica, Economic Journal, Health Economics, Journal of Population Economics, Review of Economics and Statistics, Review of Income and Wealth and many more. Stephen has also published several influential books including Changing Fortunes: Income Mobility and Poverty Dynamics in Britain (2011) and The Great Recession and the Distribution of Household Income (co-edited with Brandolini, Micklewright and Nolan in 2013). Stephen’s considerable influence on colleagues’ thinking is underlined by the extent to which his work has been cited. According to Google Scholar, his research receives over a thousand citations a year. He has almost fifty publications (journal articles, books and book chapters) that have been cited at least hundred times. If one considers the Research Papers in Economics (RePEc) worldwide citation rankings for almost 60000 authors, Stephen comfortably sits inside the top 0.5 per cent. The New Zealand Association of Economists is delighted to bestow upon Stephen Jenkins a Distinguished Fellow award.

Jenkins, S., Changing Fortunes: Income Mobility and Poverty Dynamics in Britain, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2011.
Jenkins S., Brandolini A., Micklewright J. and B. Nolan (eds.), The Great Recession and the Distribution of Household Income, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013.

Caroline Saunders elected NZAE Life Member

Caroline was a Council member of the NZAE from 1997 to 2006 and was President of the Association from 2001 to 2003. During her time as President and then Past President, the Association instituted its Distinguished Fellow awards which has brought NZAE and its members into closer contact with many of New Zealand top economists, based both in New Zealand and overseas. Her service to the wider economics profession has also been admirable. Caroline is the long-standing Director of the Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit at Lincoln University. Serving the broader research field, Caroline was appointed as a Royal Society Te Apārangi Councillor, a position she held from 2015 to 2018. She is a Director of Landcare Research (Manaaki Whenua) and, in 2019, was one of the inaugural appointees to the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s Monetary Policy Committee. At an international level, Caroline serves the economics profession by holding the Agricultural Economics Society Presidency for 2019-2020. Caroline’s service both to the economics profession and more broadly has been recognised with the award of NZIER Economist of the Year in 2007, and by becoming an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit in 2009. The Association is delighted to add to these recognitions of service by awarding Caroline Saunders with life membership of the New Zealand Association of Economists.

13th A R Bergstrom Prize in Econometrics to James Graham

Congratulations to James Graham, who was awarded the 2019 A. R. Bergstrom Prize in Econometrics for his paper “House Prices and Consumption: A New Instrumental Variables Approach”. The Bergstrom Prize can be awarded every two years and aims to reward the achievement of excellence in econometrics, as evidenced by a research paper in any area of econometrics.

Fluctuations in house prices are thought to have a significant impact on the macroeconomy, especially through their effect on consumption expenditures. The household balance sheet channel is a commonly cited explanation for this effect, whereby movements in house prices induce wealth effects and changes in the value of collateral. The primary difficulty in trying to identify these effects empirically is that house prices are endogenous equilibrium objects. Instrumental variables strategies are one way to isolate potentially exogenous variation in such prices.

James’ paper assesses the response of household consumption to house prices using a new instrumental variable strategy, which follows the literature on Bartik instruments. These are often referred to as “shift-share”’ instruments, since they typically consist of some aggregate shock that differentially affects locations according to the share of economic activity exposed to that shock.

In the paper, the instrument for local house price growth consists of the local share of houses possessing particular physical characteristics, which is then interacted with regional growth in the marginal prices of those characteristics. The characteristics include features that capture the overall quality of a house, such as its age, number of bedrooms, or number of bathrooms. The intuition for the effectiveness of the instrument is that the more the housing stock in each location is concentrated in particular characteristics, the more exposed that location will be to shocks to the relative prices of those characteristics. For example, if San Francisco was composed mostly of two-bedroom houses built prior to the 1960s, while Las Vegas has mostly four-bedroom houses built in the early 2000s, then a general increase in the price of larger and newer houses would result in relatively faster house price appreciation in Las Vegas.

To conduct the empirical analysis, James uses large micro-data sets on house prices and household consumption. The house price instrument is constructed using data on millions of individual housing transactions from across the US. Because this data contains information on geography, house characteristics, and house prices, it can be used to construct the composition of house characteristics in each location and to run the hedonic house price regressions that are used to estimate the marginal prices of the house characteristics. Household consumption expenditures are taken from a large panel data set which, among other things, contains information on the location of each household. Each household can then be linked to local house price changes in order to estimate the effect of these prices on their consumption behavior.

James reports IV-estimated average consumption elasticities with respect to house prices in the range of 0.1 to 0.15. These estimates correspond to marginal propensities to consume out of housing wealth of approximately 1.2 to 1.8 cents in the dollar, in line with previous estimates in the literature. Another important contribution of the paper is to show that, when estimating consumption elasticities in a panel data setting, the Bartik instrument performs much better than popular alternative instruments in the literature (e.g. local housing supply elasticities). For instance, the instrument provides significant time-series variation in house prices, while other instruments are mostly only useful in the cross-section.

In their assessment, the adjudicators Professors David Fielding, Alfred Haug, and Dorian Owen noted that James’ paper “is an excellent piece of empirical research.  It is well crafted with great attention to detail, using new data on millions of individual housing transactions across the US. The author developed a novel instrument for house prices in order to overcome endogeneity problems when estimating the relationship between household consumption and house prices. The robustness of the empirical findings is convincingly demonstrated.”

Congratulations to recipients of NZAE Conference 2019 prizes

Congratulations to the following recipients of prizes associated with NZAE Conference 2019. More detail on each prize is available at

David Teece Prize in Industrial Organisation and Firm Behaviour Geoffrey Brooke & Lydia Cheung
New Zealand Economic Policy Prize John Creedy, Nazila Alinaghi & Norman Gemmell
NZIER Poster prize – open Sherry Li
NZIER Poster prize – student Sherry Li
People’s Choice Poster Sherry Li
Jan Whitwell Doctoral Hanna Habibi
Jan Whitwell Bachelors / Masters Livvy Mitchell
Seamus Hogan Research Prize Bronwyn Bruce-Brand
Stata Prize for Excellence in Graphics Communications Geoff Cooper & Kabira Namit
Stats NZ Prize Andrea Menclova & Asaad Ali

NZAE AGM 4 Jul 2019

The NZAE AGM will be held during the 2019 NZAE Conference on Thursday 4th July 2019 at 1.15 pm in Lecture Room RH105, Rutherford House, Victoria University, 23 Lambton Quay, Wellington.

Note: Conference registration is not necessary for an NZAE member to attend the AGM only.

Please refer to page 19 of the 2018 Annual Report for the AGM Agenda.

Apr 2019 AI (#64) interviews Barry and Eaqub

Asymmetric Information Issue No. 64


  • Editorial
  • An interview with Phil Barry (by John Yeabsley)
  • The ‘Five Minute Interview’ with Shamubeel Eaqub
  • Blogwatch (by Paul Walker)
  • Relatedness, Complexity and Local Growth (by Benjamin Davies and Dave Maré, Motu)
  • A Hundred years on: Beyond the fighting to the economics (by Ian Duncan)
  • Child Poverty (Stats NZ)
  • NZAE Conference
  • Research in Progress (University of Waikato)
  • WEAI Conference
  • New Members

2019 NZEP Issue 1 includes capability theory of the firm

The contents of New Zealand Economic Papers, Volume 53, Issue 1, 2019 (available online or by subscription):

    • A capability theory of the firm: an economics and (Strategic) management perspective by David J. Teece
    • Expertise: is it a gift or a curse? Evidence from the New Zealand health care sector by Somi Shin
    • The J-curve and bilateral trade balances of Indonesia with its major partners: are there asymmetric effects? by Mohsen Bahmani-Oskooee & Hanafiah Harvey
    • Optimal tax enforcement and the income tax rate: the role of taxable income inequality by John Creedy
    • Using validated measures of high school academic achievement to predict university success by Kamakshi Singh & Tim Maloney
    • Citation for Julia Lane to mark her distinguished fellow award by the New Zealand association of economists by Arthur Grimes

Dec 2018 AI (#63) congratulates economists inducted as Royal Society Fellows

Asymmetric Information Issue No. 63


  • Editorial
  • An interview with Brent Layton (by John Yeabsley)
  • Two new FRSNZs (by Norman Gemmell and Les Oxley
  • The ‘Five Minute Interview’ (Christie Smith)
  • Blogwatch (by Paul Walker)
  • Conference Assistants (by John Yeabsley)
  • Do housing allowances increase rents? Evidence from a discrete policy change (by Dean Hyslop and David Rea, Motu)
  • Hawke on Australasian Economic Thought
  • Research interests at VUW

Last Call for Papers at NZAE Annual Conference July 2019 Wellington

Last Call for Papers
60th New Zealand Association of Economists Annual Conference
To be held at Victoria University of Wellington
3, 4, 5 July 2019 (Wed, Thurs, Fri)

The New Zealand Association of Economists is pleased to announce the Last Call for Papers for its 60th Annual Conference. Abstracts can be submitted here by 1 April.

See attached for more information: nzae2019_ last _call_for_papers

First Call for Papers at NZAE Annual Conference July 2019 Wellington

First Call for Papers:
60th New Zealand Association of Economists Annual Conference
To be held at Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington 3, 4, 5 July 2019 (Wed, Thurs, Fri)
Abstracts can be submitted here. (See attached for more information)

NZAE PhD Student Workshop, 2019

For whom: PhD students in Economics who are either New Zealand-based or are New Zealand students studying abroad. Preference will be given to PhD students in the first two years of their studies who register for the NZAE conference.
When: Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019
Where: Wellington TBC (See attached for more information)

Stata Prize for Excellence in Graphics Communication

The Stata Prize for Excellence in Graphics Communications will be awarded to the written paper that is deemed to make the best use of graphs for data visualization or communication of research findings using graphics. The papers will be judged by leading empirical researchers in economics. (See attached for more information and conditions of entry)

Please address conference enquiries to:

Ian Duncan or Shelley Haring (contact details in attached)


2018 NZEP Issue 3 includes analysis of NZ rich list

The contents of New Zealand Economic Papers, Volume 52, Issue 3, 2018 (available online or by subscription):

  • Monetary, prudential and fiscal policy: how much coordination is needed? by Stephen G. Cecchetti
  • Inflation expectations and low inflation in New Zealand by Özer Karagedikli & C. John McDermott
  • The New Zealand rich list twenty years on by Tim Hazledine & Max Rashbrooke
  • Modal shift for New Zealand shippers for various policy scenarios by Hyun Chan Kim, Diana Kusumastuti & Alan Nicholson
  • The marginal welfare cost of personal income taxation in New Zealand by John Creedy & Penny Mok

Call for applications for A R Bergstrom Prize in Econometrics


Applications are now being sought for the A R Bergstrom Prize in Econometrics, 2019.

The objective of the Prize is to reward the achievement of excellence in econometrics, as demonstrated by a research paper in any area of econometrics. The Prize is open to New Zealand citizens or permanent residents of New Zealand who, on the closing date of applications, have current or recent (i.e. within two years) student status for a higher degree. It is intended that the awardee will utilise the proceeds to assist in financing further study or research in econometrics in New Zealand or overseas.

The Prize can be awarded once every two years, with a value of NZ$1,000 (NB Payment will be to a domestic New Zealand bank account in the name of the prize winner). The selection panel will be appointed by the A R Bergstrom Prize Committee.

Applications/nominations must include:

  • a formal letter of application and, in the case of students, a letter of nomination by their research adviser or chairperson
  • a research paper written by a single author, reporting original research in any area of econometrics
  • a CV and relevant academic transcripts

Applications should be emailed by Friday 15 February 2019 to:
Dr. Leo Krippner ( )

See NZAE page for further information on the prize.

Congratulations to recipients of NZAE prizes in 2018

Congratulations to the following recipients of prizes presented at NZAE Conference 2018. More detail on each prize is available at

David Teece Prize in Industrial Organisation and Firm Behaviour Richard Meade
New Zealand Economic Policy Prize Jed Armstrong, Hayden Skilling & Fang Yao
NZIER Poster prize – open Hanna Habibi
NZIER Poster prize – student Hanna Habibi
People’s choice poster Samuel Verevis
Jan Whitwell Doctoral Yaxiong (Sherry) Li
Jan Whitwell Bachelors / Masters Ben Davies
Seamus Hogan Research Prize Sally Owen
Statistics NZ prize Isabelle Bouchard, Lydia Cheung & Gail Pacheco

NZAE Conference 2019 early information

See dedicated conference website for more detail released nearer to the event.

Title: NZAE Conference 2019
Location: Rutherford House, Victoria University of Wellington
Description: Annual 3-day NZAE Conference
Start Date: 2019-07-03
Start Time: 08:00
End Date: 2019-07-05
End Time: 13:30

2019 Conference important dates:

  • Wednesday 20th February First notice of conference sent out
  • Wednesday 20th February Portal for abstract submissions opens
  • Friday 22nd March Final notice of conference sent out
  • Monday 25th March Conference registration opens
  • Monday 1st April Abstracts Due
  • By Monday 22nd April Notification of acceptances
  • Monday 13th May Registration deadline for presenters
  • Monday 13th May Deadline for early-bird registration
  • Monday 10th June Full papers due for entries to prizes
  • Wednesday 3rd July Conference start
  • Friday 5th July Conference end

PhD Workshop: Tuesday, 2nd July; venue TBD

2019 Conference keynotes:

Aug 2018 AI (#62) includes recent awards and photos

Asymmetric Information Issue No. 62


  • Editorial
  • An interview with Paul Conway (by John Yeabsley)
  • The ‘Five Minute Interview’ (Christina Leung)
  • NZIER Economics Award 2018 Citation
  • NZAE Conference 2018 Awards
  • NZAE Conference 2018 Photos
  • Blogwatch (by Paul Walker)
  • GEN 2018 Annual Conference Notification
  • Environmental-Economic Accounting at Stats NZ
  • Creedy on Corden
  • WEAI Conferences, Save the Dates
  • 29th Australian & New Zealand Econometric Study Group (ANZESG) Meeting
  • NEW MEMBERS (for 2018 up to 1 August 2018)
  • The A R Bergstrom Prize in Econometrics, 2019

2018 NZEP Issue 2 includes whether state ownership is detrimental to performance

The contents of New Zealand Economic Papers, Volume 52, Issue 2, 2018 (available online or by subscription):

  • The fall (and rise) of labour share in New Zealand by Benjamin Bridgman & Ryan Greenaway-McGrevy
  • Business cycle accounting for New Zealand by Thakshila Gunaratna & Robert Kirkby
  • Artwork characteristics and prices in the New Zealand secondary art market, 1988–2011 by John Forster & Helen Higgs
  • New Zealand State-owned enterprises: is state-ownership detrimental to firm performance? by Kenny Ka Yin Chan, Li Chen & Norman Wong
  • Income effects and the elasticity of taxable income by John Creedy, Norman Gemmell & Josh Teng
  • The economists and New Zealand population: problems and policies 1900–1980s by Geoffrey T. F. Brooke, Anthony M. Endres & Alan J. Rogers
  • The effect of public funding on research output: the New Zealand Marsden Fund by Jason Gush, Adam Jaffe, Victoria Larsen & Athene Laws
  • Citation for John Gibson to mark his Distinguished Fellow Award by the New Zealand Association of Economists by Arthur Grimes