Joel Hernandez

Policy Analyst

Policy Analyst Joel joined The New Zealand Initiative after completing his Master’s in Economics at Victoria University where his work focused on productivity, labour economics and game theory. Before this, he completed a Bachelor of Science from the University of Otago, majoring in Microbiology.

Currently, Joel is working on education research using data from Statistic’s New Zealand’s Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI).

Latest reports:
Insights and Excellence: School success in New Zealand (2020)
In Fairness to our Schools: Better measures for better outcomes (2019)
Research Note: Tomorrow’s Schools: Data and evidence (2019)


Phone: +64 4 499 0790


Recent Work


When Census does not go as planned

A shocking 700,000 individuals - or 14.3 percent of New Zealand’s population - either partially completed or did not complete the 2018 Census. More shocking than the numbers themselves was how this information was made public. It was only under threat of parliamentary contempt that Liz MacPherson, Chief Statistician of Statistics New Zealand, finally revealed that last year’s Census was in worse condition than previously identified. Read more

Joel Hernandez
Insights Newsletter
18 April, 2019

Decile debacle

“Decile is not a proxy for school quality”. Principals, teachers and education professionals have said this for years, and yet students have been flocking out of low decile schools and into high decile schools all this while. Decile drift is one of many issues highlighted in the 2018 Tomorrow’s Schools Taskforce Review. Since 1995, when the decile funding model was implemented, the number of students in decile 8–10 schools has increased from 201,000 to 280,000; in contrast, the number of... Read more

Joel Hernandez
Insights Newsletter
12 April, 2019
Research note Tomorrows Schools Data and Evidence cover5

Research note: Tomorrow’s Schools: Data and evidence

A comprehensive and year-long econometric analysis of data for 400,000 students undertaken by The New Zealand Initiative reveals there are no significant differences in school performance between schools of different deciles. Adjusted for the different student populations they serve, the vast majority of New Zealand’s secondary schools create the education outcomes we would expect from them. This finding calls into question the assertion of the Tomorrow’s Schools Independent Taskforce, led by Bali Haque, which claimed that “quality of our schools... Read more

Joel Hernandez
8 April, 2019

News that isn’t news

Scroll down your news feed, what do you see? Trump’s latest dumb tweet, an update on the crisis in Venezuela, maybe something on Brexit? Unless you’re on the Economist, probably not. If you jump on any mainstream news website, you’re more likely to see something about the latest drama on Married at First Sight (MAFS), unruly tourists, or the latest limited-edition Cadbury or Whittaker’s chocolate bar. Read more

Joel Hernandez
Insights Newsletter
1 March, 2019
classroom and blackboard

Empowering students with better information

Jake is a 16-year-old student with NCEA level 1 who has just left school. His friends and family tell him “more education is always better; graduates earn more on average than non-graduates”. Jake is sick of school, but he is being pressured by his family to gain level 2 and 3 through tertiary study. He does not know whom to believe, or what to do next. Read more

Joel Hernandez
Insights Newsletter
1 February, 2019

Data driving education change

New Zealand is world leading in many aspects, most notably for Sir Edmund Hillary’s triumph on Mt Everest, Ernest Rutherford’s breakthrough in nuclear physics, and women’s suffrage. We can also be proud of leading the world in integrated data, a process that combines data from different sources and displays results in a unified view to users. Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) in 2011 started integrating data from all government agencies in New Zealand in what is now called the Integrated Data... Read more

Joel Hernandez
Insights Newsletter
14 December, 2018

The One-Trillion Tree Empire

New Zealand was never home to a great empire for one simple reason. We don’t have enough trees. Historians have often credited Rome’s massive deforestation of the Mediterranean to its success as an empire. During Rome’s five centuries of power, it used wood and coal for everything from housing to fuel to its massive military. At one point, the Roman Empire had a population of 56.8 million people. Read more

Joel Hernandez
Insights Newsletter
16 November, 2018

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