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

Classroom student

A better way to measure school effectiveness

You should not compare apples with oranges. But what about schools? As it turns out, comparing schools with schools can be just as problematic. School composition can vary significantly between different deciles and within the same decile. Some of these differences include prior student academic achievement, the student’s parents’ level of education, and the student’s parents’ average income. We know from the vast amounts of education research that these student characteristics (which are outside the control of the school) are... Read more

Joel Hernandez
Insights Newsletter
13 July, 2018
Hollywood sign

Film subsidies – worth it?

After missing my chance to meet Scarlett Johansson last year, I was distraught and confused over the weekend as I read the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) findings and conclusion on film subsidies in New Zealand. In three reviews commissioned by MBIE, the reports concluded that without the film subsidies (New Zealand Screen Production Grants), the New Zealand film industry would disappear. I was distraught because my chances of meeting Scar-Jo would fall to almost zero without the... Read more

Joel Hernandez
Insights Newsletter
6 July, 2018
School zone

Decile - a misinterpretation?

Choosing the best school for your child is an important decision. The best school, whether it is primary or secondary, can have a big impact on your child’s wellbeing and success in school. At least, that is what we currently believe. So far there has been no evidence to prove this or otherwise. For most parents this decision comes down to where they live, local word of mouth and what they’ve inferred from a school’s decile ranking. Read more

Joel Hernandez
Insights Newsletter
1 June, 2018

Invitation to Karl Marx’s 200th Birthday Bonanza

The candles have barely dimmed since his last birthday and we’re already celebrating Karl Marx’s 200th birthday, capitalism’s arch-critic. Over the past couple of centuries, capitalism has come to dominate a large part of the Western world. If Marx knew, he would be rolling over in his grave. Or would he? Because our new version of capitalism goes hand in hand with Marx’s famous dictum “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”. Read more

Joel Hernandez
Insights Newsletter
18 May, 2018

Memo to Russian spies in New Zealand

Memo to: FSB Spy Class 2018, Moscow (New Zealand posting)From: Chief Instructor DisguiseSubject: DiscoverabilityComrades,For spies it is best not to be discovered. Discovery is never helpful. If people know that you are a spy searching for secrets to pass on to our Supreme Leader Vladimir, they will not be hugely enthusiastic in sharing them with you. Not even in friendly New Zealand.So here is rule number one: At the airport do not declare that you are a spy. Read more

Joel Hernandez
Insights Newsletter
6 April, 2018

Stay in the loop: Subscribe to updates