A new report shows New Zealand’s economy has been most affected by inequality out of all the OECD nations. How did the land of the fair go end up in such a state?
In the 1940s, New Zealanders hated inequality so much that one visiting academic suggested they should erect a statue of equality in Auckland harbour, as a counterpart to the United States’s celebrated sculpture. And that image lingers: many people still think of New Zealand as an egalitarian paradise, a friendly and accommodating country where “a fair go” is the national phrase.
Those observers, and indeed many New Zealanders, might have got a shock this week when the OECD published a landmark report, showing that economies the world over are being hamstrung by growing inequality – and that New Zealand was the worst affected. A stark rich-poor divide, the OECD argued, had taken over a third off the country’s economic growth rate in the last 20 years. But how could this be?