The New Zealand government spends more than most OECD countries – but with a smaller number of public sector workers than its counterparts, according to the OECD’s Szuzsanna Lonti.
Giving an Institute for Governance and Policy Studies lecture earlier this week, she said general government expenditure as a proportion of GDP was 49% in New Zealand, against an average of 45% across the OECD. New Zealand’s spending had increased notably 2009-11, but “the main explanation would be that by 2011 the spending due to the earthquake started”.
However, compensation for government employees was “below average”, and the number of people employed in government as a percentage of the total labour force was just 9.7%, against an OECD average of 15%. Some countries, such as Norway and Denmark, had levels of around 30%.
Outlining other findings from the OECD’s recently released Government at a Glance programme, Lonti said there were many areas where New Zealand performed better than the average, including:
The proportion of people who have confidence in their national government
New Zealand: 61%
OECD average: 40%
Amount of fiscal consolidation required to get government debt down to 60% of GDP by 2030
New Zealand: 2% of GDP
OECD average: 3% of GDP
Female MPs as a proportion of all MPs
New Zealand: 33%
OECD average: 25%
Time taken to process tax refunds
New Zealand: 28 days
OECD average: 40 days
There were also some areas in which New Zealand performed at around the OECD average, including:
Percentage of citizens using the Internet to interact with public authorities
New Zealand: 50%
OECD average: 50%
And there were some areas in which New Zealand performed below the OECD average, including:
Earnings advantage (net present value) for men of having a tertiary qualification
New Zealand: US$38,000
OECD average: US$105,000