It is with great pleasure the Association honours John Yeabsley with the award of life membership of the NZ Association of Economists. The spring board to John’s career was the excellent academic preparation he received at the University of Canterbury. To an initial BSc in Mathematics he added a BA in Philosophy and Logic. This broad yet rigorous foundation was to serve him well throughout his career. Before leaving Canterbury, John realised that in fact economics was a discipline to which he could apply his mathematics and logic skills, and graduated with an MCom with First Class Honours in Economics.
John then completed a PhD at the University of Essex under the supervision of Sir Anthony Aitkinson. He recalls he was the only student to take New Zealander Rex Bergstrom’s econometrics class. He was also there at the same time as another New Zealander, Peter Phillips.
John has had a long and distinguished career as an economist in the New Zealand public service where he has held senior posts in the Department of Labour (including General Manager of the NZ Immigration Service) and the Department of Trade and Industry, as Assistant Secretary. John represented New Zealand as the Economic Counsellor with the Mission to the UN in Geneva. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the NZIER and from 1994 to 1997 was Director of the NZIER. Throughout his professional career, John has been, and still is, an active member of the Association.
John has a formidable reputation as a clear thinker and an uncanny ability to identify important insights on a wide range of problems in the public sector. He has served on or lead reviews of immigration policy, crime prevention, labour markets, tariffs and textiles, amongst others. His broad contributions to the public sector have been recognised through appointments to advisory boards in the Ministries of Justice and Social Development and in Statistics New Zealand.
In making this award we wish to honour John for his service to the profession, the wider New Zealand public, and the Association in particular. To all of these groups John has made numerous high quality contributions over a long period. He has been unfailingly generous in offering advice to colleagues and supporting junior economists.
1. Provided numerous acts of high quality service to the Association. He has refereed journal articles of New Zealand Economic Papers, and he has served on judging panels for a range of prizes.
2. Organised and facilitated conferences of the Association. Recently he was the co-chair for the highly successful 2008 NZAE/ESAM Conference in honour of AW Phillips in Wellington, the largest gathering of economists ever held in New Zealand. Throughout this endeavour his keen insights, knowledge of the profession and his highly personable approach to team work proved invaluable.
3. Served for an extended period on the Council culminating in his term as President of the Association from 1998 to 2001. During that time he undertook the important task of setting the Association’s administrative and financial procedures on a professional footing.
The Association honours John for the broad contributions he has made on many fronts, and has pleasure in awarding him life membership of the Association