Income Growth and Earnings Variations in New Zealand, 1998-2004
19 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2006
This article analyses changes in the distributions of working-age individuals' earnings and total income in New Zealand over the period 1998-2004. We find that there have been broad gains in income across the distribution, suggesting the spoils of growth have been shared widely. Mean and median earnings increased 15 and 23 per cent respectively, while mean and median income increased 1213 per cent. Inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, was more stable: earnings inequality fell 4 per cent, while income inequality was unchanged. The main drivers of the changes were employment and real wage growth. We estimate that roughly one-half of the growth in average incomes was due to employment growth, and one-quarter each to demographic changes and wage growth. The relative employment and wage contributions varied across the income distribution: employment growth dominated gains at the lower end of the distribution, while wage gains dominated changes at the higher end.
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