Our research

The Retirement Policy and Research Centre (RPRC) has been engaged in a number of research projects.

b-rprc-our-research

Decumulation in New Zealand


Decumulation continues as a major focus for the RPRC in 2015, building on earlier research and reports.

The annuities market in New Zealand

KiwiSaver changed the landscape in 2007, and from 2012 babyboomers will start to will retire with increasingly large tax-subsidised lump-sums that must be managed over an uncertain lifespan, in an uncertain investment climate, with unknown levels of inflation. The "market failure problem" of annuities is reflected in their dependence on substantial state intervention.

Very little attention has been given to the decumulation process facilitated by drawdown and annuity products.

The policy implications of decumulation in retirement in New Zealand

The July 2006 background document prepared for the Retirement Commission sets out the issues. The 2009 report records the demise of annuities in New Zealand. The 2012 RPRC Symposium Proceedings report on more current thinking from government, the industry and academia on the issues of decumulation. The 2012 publication in the New Zealand Population Review proposes some solutions to funding the ageing population.

Presentations from the 2014 forum, Decumulating Retirement savings: making the options work, provide information from academic and industry experts on the strengths and weaknesses of the decumulation environments in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

Research reports and publications

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Pension design


Working Paper 2015-1 Improving the affordability of New Zealand Superannuation The tax system could claw-back some of the net cost of NZS from high-income recipients.

PensionCommentary 2015-1 Re-designing New Zealand Superannuation. The first priority is to decide on the shape of NZS for 2060, based on what we might want NZS to achieve in 2060.

PensionBriefing 2014-2 A universal pension proposal for Australia

Working Paper 2013-2 Fiscal sustainability in an ageing population: Adapting universal provision Ensuring the future fiscal sustainability of New Zealand Superannuation may require a subtle mix of the three possible parametric changes.

Working Paper 2013-1 Save as you go or pay as you go? The age old policy debate

PensionCommentary 2012-3 We all have to talk about New Zealand Superannuation. Whether or not the expected cost is ‘affordable’, we all, including the government, need to talk about that now.

Working Paper 2010-1: Towards a more rational tax treatment of collective investment vehicles and their investors

PensionBriefing 2010-7 Improving the affordability and equity of New Zealand Superannuation

PensionBriefing 2010-4 How much will New Zealand Superannuation really cost?

PensionBriefing 2009-5 Universal New Zealand Superannuation and tax: implications for sustainability

PensionBriefing 2009-4 If I won $5 million

PensionBriefing 2009-2 Superannuation schemes, tax and “income”

PensionBriefing 2008-5 A condensed history of public and private provision for retirement income in New Zealand - 1975-2008

Superannuation task forces in the 1990s and the political accord (2008) Todd.,J.

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KiwiSaver


KiwiSaver and Ireland 2016

New Zealand’s auto-enrolment retirement saving scheme is generating much interest internationally. For a few years now, Ireland has been investigating the New Zealand approach to auto-enrolment. Insurance Ireland sponsored a summit on the 13th September at which they launched the following paper posted here with kind permission:

The contribution of the RPRC is as follows to this ongoing conversation:

KiwiSaver papers

New Zealand’s auto-enrolment retirement saving scheme is generating much interest internationally. 

Paper presented to Insurance Ireland summit A universal pension for Ireland: New Zealand’s KiwiSaver Lessons for Ireland Susan St John (2016). 13 September 2016, Dublin, Ireland. 

Working paper 2014-1: Now we are six. Lessons from New Zealand’s KiwiSaver St John, S, Littlewood, M, Dale, M C
New Zealand’s success with the "soft compulsion" of automatic enrolment is continuing to influence the design of opt-out schemes in the UK and Ireland. (2014)

PensionBriefing: 2014-1 Observations on the Reserve Bank’s household financial assets 2003-2013 The Reserve Bank of New Zealand collects household financial assets at least quarterly. KiwiSaver is a very small part of household wealth.

PensionBriefing: 2013-5 KiwiSaver, employer contributions and remuneration From 1 April 2013, the minimum KiwiSaver contributions from both members and their employers increased to 3%. Whether this lead to an increase in total remuneration depends on the way the employment contract is worded. 

PensionCommentary 2012-2 Investment performance: publication of “gross’ returns should be banned. The current organisation of the income tax system makes comparison of gross (pre-tax) returns mostly meaningless.

PensionCommentary 2012-1: KiwiSaver: Changing the default provider regime This PensionCommentary looks at the lessons to date and suggests a major change to the way in which default enrolments happen after 2014.

Submission: Review of KiwiSaver default provider arrangements The RPRC was disappointed to see that the possibility of ending default enrolment was not raised in the Ministry of Business, Information & Employment’s Discussion Document.

Working paper 2011-2: KiwiSaver: Four years on Dale, M C, St John, S, and Littlewood, M, In the four years of KiwiSaver’s evolution, the fundamental questions around KiwiSaver’s purpose have not been resolved.

Working Paper 2010-2: KiwiSaver the first three years: Lessons for Ireland? St John, S, Littlewood, M, Dale, M C, In June 2010, Susan St John presented this RPRC working paper at Trinity College Dublin. Other countries are interested in KiwiSaver because it is the world's first auto enrolment national opt out scheme.

PensionBriefing: 2009-6 Modelling the distributional aspects of KiwiSaver: methodology and results, The taxpayer-funded subsidies to KiwiSaver are distributed to members based on the contributions made by individuals and their employers. Over time, the subsidies that relate to the employers' contributions become relatively more important as the real value of the fixed-dollar "member tax credit" diminishes.

Working Paper 2008-2 The distributional impact of recent changes to retirement income policy: a preliminary analysis. This working paper quantifies the value of the tax-funded incentives and subsidies for individuals who save under various hypothetical scenarios.

Working Paper 2008-1 Lessons from New Zealand for Ireland's green paper on pensions. Although both countries have a commitment to maintaining living standards in old age the balance between public and private provision is struck very differently in the two countries.

Working Paper 2008-2 The distributional impact of recent changes to retirement income policy: a preliminary analysis. This working paper quantifies the value of the tax-funded incentives and subsidies for individuals who save under various hypothetical scenarios.

Working Paper 2008-1 Lessons from New Zealand for Ireland's green paper on pensions. Although both countries have a commitment to maintaining living standards in old age the balance between public and private provision is struck very differently in the two countries.

PensionBriefing: 2008-3 KiwiSaver and remuneration This briefing paper outlines the way in which recent policy changes impact on remuneration strategies for employers.

PensionBriefing: 2008-2 Structuring remuneration This briefing paper outlines the way in which remuneration can be structured to maximise the return from, among other things, KiwiSaver initiatives without extra cost to employers.

PensionBriefing: 2008-1 KiwiSaver This briefing paper briefly assesses the case for KiwiSaver that saving for retirement will improve New Zealand’s current account deficit.

PensionCommentary 2008-1: On the relative values of KiwiSaver incentives Littlewood, M. Published online at the financialalert website (17 November 2008).

PensionCommentary: KiwiSaver (and other superannuation) schemes - Comparing the incomparable Littlewood, M. National Business Review (8 August 2008).

PensionCommentary: Employers should take charge, or KiwiSaver will increase their costs Littlewood, M. Published in the New Zealand Herald (4 March 2008).

PensionBriefing: 2007-7 Pay salary sacrifice KiwiSaver and PIEs This briefing paper explores the nature of the various tax changes to be introduced in 2007/08 and their impact on possible decisions by employees concerning the structure of their remuneration and contributions to KiwiSaver.

Conference Paper 2006: Does KiwiSaver improve the unique New Zealand mix of retirement policies? UNSW

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Pension portability and overseas pensions


In conjunction with the Human Rights Commission, the Retirement Policy and Research Centre (RPRC) has been exploring the issues of pension portability and overseas pensions. Problems experienced by superannuitants under the current regime have not been resolved by the 2009 legislative changes.

Part 1
A review of the current regime for the treatment of overseas pensions. See Working Paper 2007.

Part 2
A Literature Review has been completed. Research leader M Claire Dale. Refer to Working Paper 2009-1 (see below).

Part 3
Establishing the principles for the sustainable and fair treatment of those with overseas pensions: Working Paper 2009-2.

Part 4
Proposing solutions:

  • Option 1: Reforming New Zealand Superannuation for a mobile trans-Tasman population

New Zealand and Australia take a unique approach to state pension provision that derives from an entitlement solely based on residency and not contributions. Even so, there are stark differences between the Australian and New Zealand state pensions which raise an important set of issues for movements between these two countries. Refer to Working Paper 2010-3 (see below).

  • Option 2: New Zealand Superannuation and Overseas Pensions.

The New Zealand government’s role in ensuring the fair treatment of older citizens, including those who have worked overseas, gives logic to taking some account of overseas pensions that perform a similar role to NZS. Refer to Working Paper 2010-2 (see below).

  • Overseas pensions: The next steps

The Retirement Policy and Research Centre are pleased to publish this final working paper on the overseas pension project. It makes recommendations for reform of the current policy inequities and anomalies. Some recommendations are for administrative change, and could be implemented immediately; while others require significant policy change and should be informed by a national debate prior to adoption. The RPRC encourage the government to act with urgency in 2011. Refer to Working Paper 2011-1 (see below).

Related papers

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Ageing population supports and costs


Working paper 2016-1 Ageing and the Economics of Caring. This paper explores some of the economic and social issues of our ageing population.

Intergenerational debate: Today’s policy settings unfairly favour the baby boomer generation.

Listen to the Intergenerational Debate: Today's policy settings unfairly favour the baby boomer generation below.

Working Paper 2014-2 Turning silver to gold. The paper compiles the current state costs of services and support for this group and suggests possible policy options that could anticipate increasing numbers of older citizens with equanimity rather than dread.

Submission: Premium-only Aged Residential Care Facilities and Stand-down Provisions for Mixed Facilities

PensionBriefing 2013-6 New Zealand Superannuation's real costs - looking to 2060. If current settings persist, the costs of pensions, healthcare and long-term care are expected to more than double over the next 50 years,.

PensionBriefing 2013-3 Oral health, general health, and residential aged-care. Dental problems can be the source of general health issues, yet oral health in older people is not seen as part of overall health by central government funders.

A new approach to funding the costs of New Zealand's ageing population This paper proposes a social insurance approach combining a life-time annuity with long-term care insurance. S. St John, M.C. Dale, T. Ashton. New Zealand Population Review, 38:55-76. 2012

Working Paper 2012-2 Financing of long-term care and long-term care insurance for the aged: A literature-based comparison of seven OECD countries. The current systems of funding the provision of in-home and institutional long-term care will be a considerable pressure point as the proportion of the population aged 65+ grows rapidly over the next 20 years.

Aging of the elderly: An intragenerational funding approach to long-term care St John, S., & Chen, Y.P. European Papers on the New Welfare, 2011.

Pre-funding a government's future financial obligations – the New Zealand Superannuation case study. Littlewood, M. New Zealand Economic Papers, 44(1), 91-111, 2010.

Working Paper 2007-1 The changing face of the Aged Care Sector in New Zealand This report investigates the origins, structure, and issues currently faced by the "Aged Residential Care" market, a sector in the throes of considerable transition.

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Gender issues


Forum: The high-cost chromosome - XX retirement: lower pay, less savings, longer live, This forum explored what can be done to increase well-being in retirement for New Zealand women.

Working paper 2016-1 Ageing and the Economics of Caring. This paper explores some of the economic and social issues of our ageing population.

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Ageing Workforce


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ACC


Fifty years from the Woodhouse Report: A celebration and assessment of ACC
ACC forum, AUT, Policy Observatory, 11 December 2017

Susan St John gave a personal reflection on the Woodhouse report and its influence on her master’s thesis on ACC’s cost allocation. She, and commented on some of the controversies around the ACC scheme, and how it sits in the wider social security system

View full proceedings.

Tribute to Sir Owen Woodhouse, Rt Hon Sir Owen Woodhouse ONZ, KBE, DSC, 1916-2014

Resources

Miscellaneous

RPRC Commentaries

The top 100 and SME surveys


The top 100 and SME surveys report monitors the top 100 companies in New Zealand before and during the transition to Kiwisaver and was released 15 August 2008.

Background summary report: Workplace retirement savings in 2008 - attitudes and practices of the Top 100 employers
13 August 2008 RPRC background summary report: Workplace retirement savings in 2008 - attitudes and practices of the Top 100 employers.

Report: Kiwisaver perspectives from New Zealand small enterprises
Kiwisaver perspectives from New Zealand small enterprises. 31 January 2008 Report based on businesSMEasure November 2007 by Martina Battisti (New Zealand Centre for Small and Medium Enterprise Research Massey University).

Report: Workplace retirement savings in 2008 - attitudes and practices of the Top 100 employers
7 August 2008 RPRC report: Workplace retirement savings in 2008 - attitudes and practices of the Top 100 employers.

Press release: Workplace retirement savings in 2008 - attitudes and practices of the Top 100 employers
Workplace retirement savings in 2008 - attitudes and practices of the Top 100 employers. Press release August 2008.

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Other publications


Copies of other RPRC documents are available to view in PDF format in our publications database - search for other RPRC documents.

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