Final Eric Crampton

Dr Eric Crampton

Chief Economist

Dr Eric Crampton is the Chief Economist at The New Zealand Initiative and co-author of The Case for Economic Growth. Dr Crampton served as Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in Economics at the Department of Economics & Finance at the University of Canterbury from November 2003 until July 2014. He is also the creator and author of the well-known blog “Offsetting Behaviour”.

Latest reports:
Score! Transforming NCEA Data (2018)
Recipe for disaster: Building policy on shaky ground (2018)
Analog Regulation, Digital World (2017)
The Outside of the Asylum: A New Zealander’s guide to the world out there (2017)
Decade of Debt: The Cost of Interest-free Student Loans (2016)
Deadly Heritage (2016)
In the Zone: Creating a Toolbox for Regional Prosperity (2015)
The Case for Economic Growth (2015)

Phone: +64 4 499 0790


Recent Work

Acid rain

The Acid Test

Nutrient load is too high in too many New Zealand lakes and rivers. Cleaning up the mess featured prominently in last year’s election. Getting the job done requires looking at what works. On that front, New Zealand has learned from America’s abolition of acid rain. During the 1980s, sulphur dioxide emissions from American electricity generation plants made rain acidic, with damage to lakes building up over time. Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
14 September, 2018

Uncertainty over sugar tax report details

A sugar tax would generate millions in revenue and save lives, the Prime Minister has been told.The briefing from the Ministry of Health's chief science advisor Dr John Potter was given at Jacinda Ardern's request.Eric Crampton tells Mike Hosking there a few important details missing in the report."It's hard to tell to tell how much of this is new work and how much of it was from prior studies." Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Newstalk ZB - Mike Hosking Breakfast
13 September, 2018

Can’t get no satisfaction

Every two years, Treasury surveys stakeholders about Treasury’s performance. The 2015 survey was up on Treasury’s website about two months after it was completed. The 2017 survey was completed last August but still had not shown up on Treasury’s website a year later.I had a pretty good idea why they were sitting on it. The parts of the report I had had the chance to see were not laudatory.This week, Treasury responded to my OIA request for a copy of... Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
7 September, 2018

The market is a harsh mistress – for competitors

It was the year 2019 and Kiwis had had enough. It was time for legislation to finally protect the interests of those of us stuck in the car leasing market. It wasn’t always this bad. The market used to be able to keep up with demand for cars. Mostly. Sure, the cars available overseas were better and cheaper. Some overseas families even had more than one of them! Normal people couldn’t really get those cars here because of import controls. Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
31 August, 2018

The equalizer - what government provides

People can argue the toss about whether the government should be more or less active in redistributing income but it’s good to have an accurate picture of how much the government already does to reduce inequalities in market income. It’s especially important when the government’s reviewing the tax system. Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
The National Business Review
31 August, 2018


The Productivity Commission’s report on state sector productivity makes for dismal reading. We all could be enjoying either more of the benefits that government programmes can provide, or lower taxes, or a combination of the two if the state sector had a greater focus on productivity. Our Executive Director’s column in this week’s National Business Review walks through the grim details. But it gets even worse. Not included in the Commission’s remit was the government’s role in regulation. Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
24 August, 2018
Key in door housing

Change councils' incentives too

Housing Minister Phil Twyford’s address to Infrastructure New Zealand’s Building Nations Symposium last week made it very clear that the current governing coalition is very serious about fixing Auckland’s housing affordability crisis.But the conference also made a few other things clear. Solving the current mess will not be speedy. And maintaining housing affordability over the longer term requires changes to local governments’ incentives around facilitating growth.Twyford opened the conference with a strong moral case for restoring housing affordability. Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
21 August, 2018
Economist 2

Treasury needs more than just more economists

I noted a few problems in Treasury’s staffing in my column a fortnight ago. Among staff whose qualifications are known working as analysts, senior analysts, principal advisors and senior managers, economists are in the minority. It would be ridiculous for every analyst at Treasury to be an economist, but Treasury’s core analytical work requires having deep economic expertise. Hire your way out?Recent hiring shows little evidence that Treasury’s management sees diminishing economic capabilities as a problem. Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
The National Business Review
17 August, 2018

Treasury and opportunity costs

Treasury is the heart of economic expertise in government. But it is more than that. Lots of Ministries have economists on staff – even Chief Economists. Treasury’s unique role is to run a straight economic ruler over policy initiatives proposed by other Ministries and to provide advice to its Minister about which government policies pass muster, and which do not. Government has limited resources and it is important that every dollar go where it can do the most good. Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
3 August, 2018
Economic growth2

The Treasury needs economists

Last year, the Treasury received the Deloitte IPANZ Public Sector Excellence Award for its revised blinded graduate recruitment programme. Under the programme, Treasury’s recruiters did not know whether their potential hires held a degree in critical theory or in economics. It received its award, in part, for having succeeded in hiring no graduates whose qualification was solely in economics.The Treasury celebrated this achievement, but it made me more than a little nervous. Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
The National Business Review
27 July, 2018
Time warp

European time warps

It’s astounding. Time seems to be repeating. European madness takes its toll.Two decades ago, the European Commission (EC) worried that Microsoft was abusing its dominant position. Microsoft’s operating system was the way most people interacted with computers, and the operating system came bundled with a media player and an internet browser. The EC reckoned that Microsoft was exploiting its dominant position in the operating system market to lock up other markets.And so, late in 2004, it required Microsoft to offer... Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
20 July, 2018

Stay in the loop: Subscribe to updates