Monday 29 June 2015

Don't you try overturning my anecdotes with data.

Few things are more depressing than a comment thread, even on a good day. But this one was a doozy.

Michael Daly reported on the Treasury paper showing, if anything, declines in income inequality in NZ since the early 2000s and, for expenditure-based measures of inequality, a decline substantial enough to have matched the increase that came in the late 1980s. We put out a press release on the topic along with explanatory video.

The Stuff comment thread though - folks seem to think there's some grand Treasury - NZ Initiative conspiracy to juke the data. The data that Treasury's using here's showing the same basic trend that MSD showed last year, and it would be difficult for anybody who's met Brian Perry to call him a raving right-winger.

A fair few worry about wealth inequality. Well, expenditure-based measures implicitly have both wealth and income in there as the rich will draw down from savings or have better access to credit during any income downturn. Further, what data we do have suggests New Zealand ain't too bad on that front either.

Yes, things can be bad for those on low incomes. Double-plus-emphatic-yes that the housing shortage has had horrible effects on the poor. But does believing that have to commit you to believing that Treasury AND MSD are making up the data on inequality? Give your heads a shake.

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