Changing Family Incomes in New Zealand 2007–20




Income dynamics, Income distribution, Low income, Mobility


This article describes income mobility patterns in New Zealand over the short to medium term. It uses a special dataset which tracks the Household Labour Force Survey over the period from 2007 to 2020, using 2013 census data. The measure of income is total family taxable income per adult equivalent person. The income unit is the individual. Just below half of those initially in the bottom decile remained either there or in the second-lowest decile over seven years, while about two-thirds of those initially in the top decile remained either there or in the second-highest decile. Income mobility was least for those in the top and bottom deciles. People also move below or above a low-income threshold over time. Of those who initially had incomes less than half of the median income per adult equivalent person, about half remained in that category after six to seven years. Unemployment and single parenthood were closely associated with longer-term low income. Policies that promote employment and education may be effective, yet not necessarily sufficient, in reducing low income and low-income persistence.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

John Creedy, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

John Creedy is professor of public economics and taxation in the School of Accounting and Commercial Law, Victoria University of Wellington.

Quy Ta, New Zealand Productivity Commission

Quy Ta is an advisor at the New Zealand Productivity Commission.