Final Bryce Wilkinson

Dr Bryce Wilkinson

Senior Fellow

Bryce is a Senior Fellow at The New Zealand Initiative, and also the Director of the Wellington-based economic consultancy firm Capital Economics. Prior to setting this up in 1997 he was a Director of, and shareholder in, First NZ Capital. Before moving into investment banking in 1985, he worked in the New Zealand Treasury, reaching the position of Director. Bryce holds a PhD in economics from the University of Canterbury and was a Harkness Fellow at Harvard University. He is a Fellow of the Law and Economics Association of New Zealand.

Bryce is available for comment on fiscal issues, our poverty, inequality and welfare research. He also has a strong background in public policy analysis including monetary policy, capital markets research and microeconomic advisory work.

Latest reports:
Recipe for disaster: Building policy on shaky ground (2018)
Welfare, Work and Wellbeing: From Benefits to Better Lives (2017)
The Inequality Paradox: Why inequality Matters Even Though it has Barely Changed (2016)
Poorly Understood: The State of Poverty in New Zealand (2016)
Reducing Unnecessary Regulatory Costs (2015)
A Matter of Balance: Regulating Safety (2015)
Investing for success: Social Impact Bonds and the future of public services (2015)

Phone: +64 4 472 5986


Recent Work

Pensioner drinking

Time to raise a glass to our intergenerational wellbeing

When I was a lad, Treasury was a home for bean counters. Many a fine public servant did an accounting degree part-time at evening classes at Vic. Full-time study was unaffordable; they needed a day job for income.   They knew their day job. It was to run a surgical eye over departmental spending proposals. Noes were more satisfying than Ayes. Noes could help a minister of finance keep the budget healthy. Noes saved ‘the country’ money. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
23 February, 2018

The farcical case for banning you from selling your home to a foreigner

New Zealand exports about 95 percent of its dairy production. The receipts make it a major overseas earner. Imagine a proposed ban on the export of dairy products.  “This would”, the misguided advocates might earnestly explain, “benefit New Zealand consumers by making dairy products more affordable (cheaper) in New Zealand”. You do not need a degree in economics to spot the flaw in this argument. That benefit would be entirely at the expense of New Zealand producers. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
16 February, 2018

Governments still under-prepared for the next big one

Earthquake-prone New Zealand is still under-prepared for the next earthquake or major disaster. That is the central finding of The New Zealand Initiative’s research report, Recipe for disaster: Building policy on shaky ground. While much of what the government did needed to be done, post-earthquake recovery was hindered by avoidable policy mistakes, some of which have still not been adequately addressed. The initial blueprint recovery plan was too broad brush to give the business community the certainty it needed about... Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
26 January, 2018
Recipe Disaster cover

Recipe for disaster: Building policy on shaky ground

Kiwis know a lot about earthquake preparedness. We know that we have to store enough water and supplies to last for an extended period. We know that our houses need to be fixed to their foundations, and roofing tiles need to be tied down. And we know that our disaster plans must be up-to-date, so family members can find each other if cell phone networks are down.But the government must attend to its own earthquake preparedness. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Dr Eric Crampton
Jason Krupp
25 January, 2018
Bryce 1 News

Bryce Wilkinson on 1 News

The coalition Government says about 384,000 families will be better off by $75 a week under its families package.It's estimated 88,000 children's lives will be turned around by the flagship policy which will cost $5.5 billion over the next five years. Bryce Wilkinson talks to 1 News about this announcement. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
1 News
14 December, 2017

Breaking the cycle of disadvantage

Government welfare must do a better job of breaking the cycle of disadvantage. That message was common cause amongst the audience at the launch this week of the New Zealand Initiative’s latest report Welfare, Work and Wellbeing: From Benefits to Better Lives. The report can be downloaded freely from the Initiative’s website. Myself, as author, and Sue Bradford, who wrote the foreword, spoke to it in front of a diverse and knowledgeable audience of about 100 people. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
1 December, 2017
hobo 315962 640

'Cycle of disadvantage' blamed for high numbers claiming benefits

Mike Hosking interviews Bryce Wilkinson about his new report 'Welfare, Work and Wellbeing: From Benefits to Better Lives.' The report shows 10 per cent of our working age population are on a main welfare benefit, compared with just two per cent in the 1970's. Bryce Wilkinson explains it is definitely associated with a big growth in sole parent families. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Mike Hosking Breakfast - Newstalk ZB
28 November, 2017

Lofty overall rankings for regulation masks weakness

Voltaire's satirical 1759 novella, Candide, contrasted ‘head-in-the-clouds’ complacency about this being the best of all possible worlds, despite its blemishes, with ‘feet-on-the-ground’ realism. Viewed loftily, New Zealand’s regulations look blissfully benign. New Zealand ranked 2nd best in the world for the quality of its laws and regulations in the Fraser Institute’s recently-released 2017 Economic Freedom of the World Index. Hong Kong was top, Singapore 3rd. No policy problems there apparently, move on. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
24 November, 2017

Social Investment and wellbeing under Labour

New Zealanders do not have a welfare system we can be proud of.Wellbeing research shows that involuntary unemployment is the pits for wellbeing. Think how sapping it would be to your sense of self worth to search fruitlessly for employment for a year or more. You could easily decide your community thinks you are worthless.  Yet in June this year, over 67,000 New Zealanders had been on the Jobseekers Benefit for at least a year. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
17 November, 2017

How not to save lives

In the DC comic story, a flying Superman spies Lois Lane tied across a railroad line. A fast-moving passenger train is but metres away. Superman swoops down. With a single out-stretched arm he stops the iron monster dead in its tracks. He has saved Lois. What else could matter? Well, the comic book did not do a cost-benefit assessment. But the plausible tally is one life saved and hundreds killed or injured in the concertinaed train. Enter WorkSafe NZ. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
The National Business Review
20 October, 2017

A shoddy tale of irresponsible regulation

A NZIER report released this week discredits a WorkSafe NZ safety programme that started in November 2011.  The programme aims to reduce workplace falls from heights of below 3 metres.   We all agree that safety is important. So is cost. Anyone who cares about safety has to care about the cost of achieving it. Otherwise they fail to spend where the safety gains are greatest.   The cost increases are material. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
20 October, 2017

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