The Professionalisation Committee was set up to identify opportunities to improve the recruitment, development, retention, and use of economists and those with economics skills in government.

Economics is a core capability of government: it provides a set of tools to interpret the world, to identify and assess opportunities, design policy and regulations and evaluate their effectiveness. GEN is committed to improving government’s economic capability to improve the quality of government policy.

New Zealand does not have a cadre of economist roles or a career pathway in government that is consistent, or even similar, across agencies. Consequently, the experience of working as an economist within a government agency varies vastly across agencies.

As a result: 

  • Agencies struggle to find candidates with the right experience, especially when more senior economics roles are advertised. Many agencies routinely look to the economics consultancies for economics advice, rather than using in-house talent. 
  • This increases the cost of evidence-based policy advice, limits internal capacity building and risks the loss of valuable institutional knowledge.

Professionalisation Projects: Get Involved 

In 2023, we undertook interviews with 11 Chief Economists to understand the current capability of the New Zealand public sector. This study identified a gap in economic knowledge and skills in government, as well as limited opportunities for professional training.  The full report is available here

A second research project is currently underway. This survey of economists and non-economists in government seeks to measure specific training needs and to identify economics topics that would provide the most immediate value for policy analysts and others.  

You can get involved by completing this survey now. 

Economics in government: Interviews with Chief Economists

This paper summarised interviews with 11 Chief Economists.  We asked them about economic capability in their organisations and in the public sector more broadly. About career development for economists and their roles as Chief Economists.

(click on the image below to download the paper)














Interesting reading

Anand, P., Roope, L., & Ross, A. (2019). How Economists Help Central Government Think: Survey Evidence from the UK Government Economic Service. International Journal of Public Administration.

DPMC. (2012). The Policy Project – Responsive today, shaping tomorrow: Narrative and direction of travel.

DPMC. (2019). Policy Skills Framework | Te Anga Pūkenga Kaupapahere. The Policy Project.

Makhlouf, G., & Mukherjee, U. (2019). Economic policy in the public sphere: A perspective from New Zealand. Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington

Nelson, R. H. (1987). The economics profession and the making of public policy. Journal of Economic Literature, 25(1), 49–91.

Norman, N. R. (2007). The Contribution of Australian Economists: The Record and the Barriers. Economic Papers: A Journal of Applied Economics and Policy, 26(1), 1–16.

Scott, G., Duignan, P., & Faulkner, P. (2010). Improving the Quality and Value of Policy Advice: Findings of the Committee Appointed by the Government to Review Expenditure on Policy Advice