Neoliberalism stopped the rise in inequality

Section: Members Highlights / WTA Blog
28 June 2017 | New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union / New Zealand
New Zealand


“The left-wing hullabaloo is wrong, inequality hasn’t changed in 20 years“, said Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union, responding to new research findings by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research.

A second major economic study in as many years by two of New Zealand’s leading economic think tanks show that inequality has barely changed in 20 years. The neoliberal reforms of the 1980s have made New Zealand richer whilst not adversely affecting income or consumption inequality – despite the dramatic, and misleading, rise in claims in the media that New Zealand’s inequality is increasing.

The latest report, by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, shows there has been little change in both income and consumption inequality since the mid-1990s. Consumption inequality has, in fact, trended slightly downward.

Last year, the New Zealand Initiative published similar findings that in the last ten years, despite there being a ten-fold increase in the number of news stories reporting inequality, inequality has not changed at all.

Mr Williams said: “These reports show that concerns about increasing inequality are an import of the American narrative rather than a reflection of evidence-based changes of the economic composition of New Zealand.”

“Left wing politicians are fuelling a false narrative that inequality in New Zealand is growing to justify ‘remedies’ of higher taxes and neo-socialist agendas.  This needs to be nipped in the bud, and this research is a step toward arming voters with the truth.”

“A dismissal of genuine concerns from New Zealanders about their economic position would be wrong though. Income inequality may not be rising, but post-housing cost inequality is a major challenge for New Zealand.  That doesn’t mean raising taxes though – to the contrary, removing the regulatory taxes on housing supply and fixing the handbrake that is local government (some would term this a neoliberal agenda) is the only way to solve these genuine problems in our society.”

Disclaimer: In a recent opinion piece first published in the National Business Review, Jordan Williams came out of the closet (of sorts) as a neoliberal. He set out ten beliefs many New Zealand ‘neo-liberals’ have in common.  You might be a neoliberal too – see: I’m A Neoliberal. Maybe You Are Too.