Productivity by the numbers

Productivity by the numbers - 2023
01 Jul 2023
Productivity by the numbers - 2021
01 May 2021
Productivity by the numbers - 2019
01 Jun 2019


Productivity by the numbers explores how the Aotearoa New Zealand economy transforms inputs into outputs. This report sets the scene for a broader public understanding and debate by drawing out where Aotearoa New Zealand has done well and where we could do better. It also looks at the development of policies to improve the performance of our economy and the wellbeing of our people.


This report presents a picture of Aotearoa New Zealand’s productivity performance, to support an informed debate about how we can improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders. The road to improvement sits with a wide range of actors. Successful economies are based on individuals and communities, firms and whānau, iwi, and education and research institutions all doing the best with what they have.

Over the past 12 years, the Productivity Commission has conducted inquiries into various aspects of productivity and the economy, providing detailed research, analysis, and recommendations (Table 5.1). Our current inquiry, Improving economic resilience, focuses on economic resilience policies that can proactively improve the capacity of industries and communities to adapt to persistent supply chain disruptions shaped by climate change, geopolitics, fragmenting trade
or pandemics.

Through our past inquiries, we have made a wide range of recommendations to help improve understanding of productivity, and to inform and empower government and change makers to support productivity growth. As we reflect on the numbers presented in this report, we draw on some of the recommendations we have made in these past inquiries.

Key Results

Productivity matters for wellbeing

  • Achieving higher productivity improves our overall wellbeing, by increasing the nation’s incomes and our ability to produce and afford the goods and services that underpin a happy, healthy life.
  • This allows us to invest in public goods and services that benefit everyone, such as schools, hospitals and infrastructure.
  • Improved productivity also enables us to enjoy more time with family, whānau, friends and community, and spend more time on improved collective wellbeing, and pursue social and envinronmental goals.
  • The distribution – across and within groups and communities around the rohe – of the gains from higher productivity also matters for individual and overall wellbeing.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s productivity growth has declined

  • New Zealand’s economy has gone from being one of the most productive to one of the least productive in the OECD.
  • Working more hours and putting more people into work has been the main way that production and income have grown over the last decades.

Innovation and investment are keys to lifting productivity

  • Innovation and technological change, which require appropriate investment efforts, are critical to productivity growth.
  • The Government’s efforts need to be focused, aligned, well connected to businesses, iwi, Māori, researchers, and workers, and well evaluated, to enable learning and adaption.

Productivity requires a long-term commitment

  • Aotearoa New Zealand’s current productivity is built on decades of investment – in skills, knowledge, ICT, infrastructure, institutions, relationships, and the environment.
  • This investment effort needs to be not only continued, but also lifted and honed to ensure improved resources and inputs are fit-for-purpose for the 21st century.
  • The choices we make today influence the productivity and standard of living, waiora, and wairua tomorrow, and for future generations.
Page last modified: 08 Apr 2024