Book Chapter

Social investment: The New Zealand case

Published: 2021

This chapter describes the history of the New Zealand social investment approach, focusing on the opportunities and challenges in relation to the use of government administrative data for actuarial analysis and program development. The approach was introduced in 2010/11 by the former National-led Government, with the aim of addressing longterm welfare dependency and the increasing fiscal liabilities of the welfare system. The core elements of the approach were threefold: to harness the analytical and actuarial power of large-scale linked government administrative data to identify groups at risk of long-term social welfare dependence, to tailor social interventions to the needs of specific social groups and clients and design programs that showed clear returns on investment designed to build human capital, and to work collaboratively across government and non-government agencies and sectors to develop and implement social services. The approach has undergone several modifications as it has evolved. Drawing on a review of key documents and interviews with five participants, the chapter highlights the importance of a shared vision, clarity of core concepts, adequate governance and infrastructure, as well as political support for such an approach to realise its objectives.


Baxter J.Kalucza S.


Kalucza, S. & Baxter, J. (2021). Social investment: The New Zealand case. p 24-37 In Chan, J. & Saunders, P. (Eds.), Big data for Australian social policy: Developments, benefits and risks. Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, Canberra.