Pension briefings

The following are technical papers on various aspects of superannuation, ACC, and tax policy in New Zealand

2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007


  • Financial knowledge and capability: the plans (30 November 2015)

    In 2008, New Zealand was one of the first countries in the OECD to adopt a National Strategy for Financial Literacy. The Strategy was revised in 2014 and became the National Strategy for Financial Capability. This PensionBriefing reports on financial literacy, knowledge and capability in New Zealand.


  • Updating data on older workers (2014-4)

    The number of New Zealanders aged over 65 who are in paid work continues to grow strongly. The 2013 Census shows almost 25% of older NZers are now in paid employment for at least 1 hour a week.

  • NZs treatment of pensioners whose spouses have overseas pensions (2014-3)

    New Zealand treats some pensioners with overseas pensions with varying degrees of anomalies and injustice. This PensionBriefing provides an example of a particularly unjust treatment that would cost little to fix and should be dealt with without further delay.

  • A universal pension proposal for Australia (2014-2)

    Australian taxpayers spend almost as much on tax incentives for retirement saving as they spend on the Age Pension. An Australian think tank proposes the abolition of tax breaks for retirement saving and suggests using the fiscal savings to remove the means-tests on the Age Pension and to make it universal, just like New Zealand Superannuation.,

  • 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. Although financial assets have grown in relation to incomes between 2003 and 2013, "managed funds" (including KiwiSaver) have fallen both in relation to incomes and all "financial assets". About half of KiwiSaver schemes’ money is invested overseas,,,


  • Census 2013 - is home ownership really falling (2013-7)

    Census 2013 data seemingly show that home-ownership continues to fall in New Zealand. However, because of shortcomings in the "dwelling" questions, we do not really know what proportion of Census respondents have an ownership interest in the home they live in. The gaps in 2013 data are the same as in the last (2006) Census because the questions were the same.

  • New Zealand SuperAnnuation's real costs - looking to 2060 (2013-6)

    The Treasury has released the latest long-term estimates of New Zealand Superannuation's costs. When measured against equivalent estimates of GDP, the real cost in 2060 (47 years away) will be somewhat lower at a net 6.6% of GDP than similar estimates carried out in 2000 (9.7%). In fact, the long-term picture looks better today than it ever has in the last 13 years.

  • Kiwisaver, employer contributions and remuneration (2013-5)

    From 1 April 2013, the minimum KiwiSaver contributions increased to 3% from both members and their employers. That saw many employees’ "total remuneration" increase by the employer’s additional 1%. Take-home pay was, however, lower because the employee’s extra 1% will come out of their after-tax pay. In other cases, "total remuneration" was unchanged from 1 April so that, unless there was also a pay increase, the employee’s take-home pay reduced by the 2% (the total of the employer’s and employee’s contributions).

  • Census 2013 - shortcomings in questions about housing (2013-4)

    Every five years, the government collects detailed information on New Zealanders and their homes through the Census. The 2013 questions on home ownership are the same as those asked in 2006 so we will still not really know what proportion of New Zealand’s households own the home they live in.

  • Oral health, general health, and residential aged-care (2013-3)

    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. Dental care is specifically excluded from the Ministry of Health’s Age Related Residential Care contract between district health boards and rest homes and hospitals.

  • New evidence on household wealth from the Reserve Bank (2013-2)

    At the end of each year, the RBNZ publishes a snapshot of the assets and liabilities of all New Zealanders. Until now, there were acknowledged gaps in this information. A paper from an RBNZ staff member has added estimates of the value of businesses and some other assets. Previous estimates have "missed" about one fifth of the total. Housing assets are now about 54% of the total.

  • Updating the NZSF investment performance numbers to 2012 (2013-1)

    This PensionBriefing updates estimates of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund's impact on the government's balance sheet. Over the nine years to 30 June 2012, the accumulated investment returns exceeded the cost of government debt by just $346 million. Allowing for the risks associated with a 100%-leveraged investment strategy means that taxpayers have not been appropriately rewarded. On that measure, taxpayers are $2.8 billion worse-off over nine years.



  • Part of our pensions past: The 1898 Old Age Pension (2012-1)

    New Zealand introduced the "Old Age Pension" in 1898. It was one of the first countries to do so. The pension was non-contributory, payable from age 65 (potentially to all residents) but there was a long list of conditions, including income and asset tests. A magistrate established entitlements in open court and newspapers printed the names of successful applicants and the annual amounts awarded.



  • Updating the NZSF investment performance numbers to 30 June 2011 (2011-2)

    RPRC PensionBriefing (2010-6) estimated that the cost to taxpayers of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund since it began was about $1.9 billion at 30 June 2010. This PensionBriefing updates the analysis to 30 June 2011. At that date, the NZSF had passed the "hurdle rate" for the first time since 2008. However, losses in the three months to 30 September 2011 have still left taxpayers out of pocket over the NZSF’s lifetime since 2003.

  • The future of Accident Compensation (ACC) (2011-1)

    A one-day ACC Forum: The future of ACC, was held on 26 August 2011 in the Owen Glenn Building at The University of Auckland Business School. The event was co-hosted by the University of Auckland’s Retirement Policy and Research Centre and ACC Group, the ACC Futures Coalition, and AUT’s Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Research. This PensionBriefing provides a short summary of each presentation, with links to the slides, papers and reading resources available from the Other publications database and the RPRC and ACC Group websites.



  • Improving the affordability and equity of New Zealand Superannuation (2010-7)

    Raising the age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation is widely seen as necessary for fiscal sustainability. The Retirement Commissioner has reinforced this view in her 2010 Report. This PensionBriefing examines the way in which increasing the degree of targeting might also contribute to reducing the fiscal cost while also addressing some of the current intergenerational inequities of New Zealand Superannuation.

  • Updating the NZSF investment performance numbers (2010-6)

    Unless the New Zealand Superannuation Fund’s investment returns are more than the cost of government debt, it worsens the government's overall financial position. This PensionBriefing updates an earlier analysis of its investment performance to 30 June 2010. The NZSF has missed the ‘hurdle rate’ by an accumulated $1.8 billion since it started in 2004.

  • Household wealth in Australia and New Zealand (2010-5)

    The debate in New Zealand about compulsory private provision has restarted. Advocates for compulsion point to Australia as a success story; it has had full compulsion for 18 years and a lesser version for a further six years. Despite claims to the contrary, households' assets and liabilities in the two countries seem to share more overall similarities than differences.

  • How much will New Zealand Superannuation really cost? (2010-4)

    When discussing the future affordability of government expenditure on the old like New Zealand Superannuation, what matters is whether New Zealand's economic output grows sufficiently to support the increasing claims of the growing aged population. Showing costs as a proportion of New Zealand's future economic output is one way of expressing that connection. That presents a less alarming picture.

  • A comment on investment income, tax, welfare benefits and the 2010 Budget (2010-3)

    The 2010 Budget changed some aspects of the tax treatment of investment income, but its focus on rationalising the top tax rates and on property investment means there is more work to be done if overall equity is to be restored to the tax and benefit systems. Most of the issues raised by the RPRC's Working Paper 2010-1 have yet to be addressed.

  • What do New Zealanders own and owe? News from SoFIE 2004-2006 (2010-2)

    The RPRC's latest PensionBriefing looks at the assets and liabilities of all New Zealand households over 2001-2006. In a 2009 Treasury report, key findings at 2006 include: less than half of NZer's total assets were in housing, financial and business investments totalle 35.2%, and total debt was 13.9% of total assets in 2006.

  • How much do New Zealanders invest in residential rental properties? (2010-1)

    The Tax Working Group's 2010 report claimed that New Zealanders over-invested in residential rental properties. The report suggested that the $55 billion in listed local shares compared unfavourably with the $200 billion in residential rental properties. But how much do New Zealanders really have invested in that sector? The evidence is not definitive but the answer is likely to be less than half that claimed by the Tax Working Group: $60-$100 billion looks more realistic. Whether that amount is "over-investment" by households is another issue.



  • Modelling the distributional aspects of KiwiSaver: methodology and results (2009-6)

    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. The KiwiSaver Excel Spreadsheets allow the impact of these to be modelled, and highlight aspects of the KiwiSaver scheme that could have substantial distributional implications now, and in the future as the scheme matures.

  • Universal New Zealand Superannuation and tax: implications for sustainability (2009-5)

    New Zealand has a universal state pension for all residents from age 65 who satisfy minimal residency tests. The simplicity and efficiency gains of paying a relatively generous universal pension without any income test comes with a high fiscal cost. The quid pro quo of universal provision is usually high marginal taxes on the well-off. In light of the ageing of the population and recent tax changes, including KiwiSaver and PIEs, the coherence of universality may need to be revisited.

  • If I won $5 million (2009-4)

    Structuring investments to maximise after-tax income illustrates the growth of complexity and resulting inequities in the current tax environment. PIEs and registered superannuation schemes can be used to structure investments to maximise after-tax returns.

  • Structuring remuneration to maximise value through "salary sacrifice" (2009-3)

    This briefing paper outlines the way in which remuneration can be structured to maximise the net income without extra cost to employers. It takes the example of an employee receiving total remuneration of $150,000 a year from an employer that is willing to co-operate.

  • Superannuation schemes, tax and "income" (2009-2)

    This briefing paper describes the different types of superannuation schemes that New Zealand now has, and the different definitions of "income" that may affect income tax and the interaction between individuals and the welfare system.

  • International comparison of poverty amongst the elderly (2009-1)

    This briefing paper examines some New Zealand implications of a 2008 OECD report Growing Unequal? Income distribution and poverty in OECD countries.