Final Jenesa Jeram1

Jenesa Jeram

Research Fellow

Jenesa is a Research Fellow at The New Zealand Initiative, focusing mainly on social issues and lifestyle regulations. She is the author of Health of the State, a report that looks at the evidence and ideology behind public health and lifestyle regulations. She has an interest in sugar tax regulations, and has also co-authored publications on poverty, inequality, social impact bonds, economic growth and housing. Jenesa is available to comment on all of these areas.

She has a Bachelor of Arts with first class Honours from the University of Otago, majoring in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. 

Latest reports:
Embracing a Super model: The superannuation sky is not falling (2018)
Smoke and Vapour: the changing world of tobacco harm reduction
The Inequality Paradox: Why inequality Matters Even Though it has Barely Changed (2016)
The Health of the State (2016)
Poorly Understood: The State of Poverty in New Zealand (2016)
Investing for success: Social Impact Bonds and the future of public services (2015)
The Case for Economic Growth (2015)

Phone: +64 4 499 0790


Recent Work


Super model needs a face-lift

Like many young people, I have long been told that New Zealand Superannuation (NZS) is unaffordable, and to prepare for a future without it. Yet both major political parties have avoided touching the issue.On Tuesday, The New Zealand Initiative released its latest report, Embracing a Super model: The superannuation sky is not falling, which explains why this is so.Embracing a Super model finds many things to celebrate about the superannuation model. Read more

Jenesa Jeram
Insights Newsletter
7 December, 2018

Making our superannuation fairer

Jenesa Jeram talks to Jim Mora about her new report on NZ Superannuation, stating that our pension age needs to rise and it should be linked to health expectancy. The report points out that New Zealand is one of the few countries that has a non-means-tested pension. We'll be living longer and retiring later so the system will need to change soon, the report suggests. Read more

Jenesa Jeram
Radio NZ - The Panel
6 December, 2018
Jenesa on The AM Show

Jenesa Jeram on The AM Show

Jenesa Jeram discusses on The AM Show our new report Embracing a Super model: The superannuation sky is not falling.The report finds that New Zealand’s universal pension system is relatively affordable but could do with small tweaks as the population ages. Jenesa recommends that the pension age must rise and be linked to health expectancy. Read more

Jenesa Jeram
The AM Show
4 December, 2018
e cigarette3

Vapers pushed out in the cold

In the old days, quitting smoking was apparently a miserable affair. So miserable, in fact, that even when faced with the prospect of ‘quit smoking or die’, too many smokers tragically fell into the latter category. For many now ex-smokers, vaping has been a game-changer. Vaping has helped tens of thousands of New Zealanders quit smoking. And for many, the process has been thoroughly enjoyable. But all that might change if the Government’s proposals for vaping regulation move ahead. Read more

Jenesa Jeram
Insights Newsletter
30 November, 2018
Boy reading

Education under the x-ray

When you break a bone, being told that an X-ray confirms the break is little relief. You already know there is a problem, but what you really want to know is how to fix it. Last week Unicef released a study that found New Zealand has one of the most unequal education systems in the world. The report included measures on Early Childhood Education attendance and the size of the gap in reading scores. Read more

Jenesa Jeram
Insights Newsletter
9 November, 2018

Len Lye Lessons

This week, a beloved piece of public art was destroyed. On a warm spring day in Wellington (yes Aucklanders, you read that right), a young man decided to climb the expensive Len Lye sculpture on the waterfront until it snapped.No doubt this is a terrible waste of taxpayers’ money. But the young man’s excuse for vandalising the sculpture is even more infuriating. In interviews later, he admitted he was showing off and wanted to perform for the crowd. Read more

Jenesa Jeram
Insights Newsletter
12 October, 2018

Welcome to my safe space

I recently read an article that distressed me so deeply I feel it needed a trigger warning. The article reported that millennials are more likely to support socialism. In fact, the piece was written by our executive director for this very newsletter. Of course I was offended by such a smear, I am after all part of the snowflake generation. As Oliver has already written, Lukianoff and Haidt are right in arguing that this snowflake culture is likely to set... Read more

Jenesa Jeram
Insights Newsletter
14 September, 2018
Plastic bag

Teach the children cost-benefit analysis

Whoever added Whitney Houston to this government’s Spotify playlist has a lot to answer for. “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.” These are perfectly fine song lyrics. They are not meant to guide government policy. Yet it seems to be the overriding logic behind the government’s recent announcement of a plastic bag ban. When announcing the policy, Prime Minister Ardern spoke of the multitude of letters she has received from... Read more

Jenesa Jeram
Insights Newsletter
24 August, 2018
Sanitary items

If it bleeds, it leads but it may not be poverty

There is a saying about the news media: "If it bleeds, it leads". Not to be crude, but the recent rise in coverage of period poverty is a classic example of such thinking.The period poverty movement appears torn in its objectives: is the problem periods or is it poverty? Because for all the concern behind the movement, the focus on poverty seems to have been lost.For those who have not heard of the concept, "period poverty" refers to the costs... Read more

Jenesa Jeram
The New Zealand Herald
22 August, 2018

Say no to saving turtles

Whenever a bartender enthusiastically asks me whether I want to save the turtles, I like to look them dead in the eyes and without hesitation say “no”. Don’t get me wrong, turtles have never done anything to offend me personally. But I know ‘saving turtles’ is code for saying no to plastic straws. And I cannot jump on this bandwagon. There are practical reasons to celebrate plastic straws. Read more

Jenesa Jeram
Insights Newsletter
3 August, 2018

How do we measure child poverty?

Wallace Chapman talks to Jenesa Jeram about how we measure child poverty. She says the Child Poverty Reduction Bill is underwhelming and the way we measure poverty isn't consistent. Jenesa will be speaking on this topic at Presbyterian Support Northern’s free public lecture series on child poverty in Auckland (28 June) and Wellington (17 July). Read more

Jenesa Jeram
Sunday Morning - Radio NZ
24 June, 2018
Teddy bear

A poverty problem by any other name

As a researcher, I sometimes feel a bit awkward or apologetic talking about poverty, and particularly how to measure it. It is easy to get stuck in the abstract, talking about definitions and statistical accuracy, and forget that there are families struggling and children whose basic needs are not being met. Meanwhile, there are people working in social services who are making real changes to peoples’ lives regardless of how the government defines poverty. Read more

Jenesa Jeram
Insights Newsletter
15 June, 2018

Stay in the loop: Subscribe to updates