Woolf Fisher Trust Scholarship
Congratulations to Athene Laws, who has been awarded a prestigious Woolf Fisher Trust scholarship to study for her doctorate at the University of Cambridge.
Athene is currently completing a BA Honours in Economics at Victoria in the School of Economics and Finance, with thesis supervision from Professor Norman Gemmell. Chair in Public Finance from the School of Accounting and Commercial Law.
“Athene is a superb student who displays terrific economic insight, so I’m not surprised that she’s been selected for this prestigious scholarship,” says Professor Norman Gemmell. “She is by far and away the best student I’ve come across in an Honours year throughout my academic career. Athene is currently working on an Honours thesis addressing the question: ‘how much income mobility do New Zealand taxpayers display?’, using unique data on individual taxpayers since the 1990s.”
Athene has already won numerous awards for academic excellence. Her presentation at the 2013 New Zealand Association of Economists Conference won the Jan Whitwell Prize for best presentation by an undergraduate, honours or master’s student. Motu Economic and Public Policy Research also awarded her the 2013 Sir Frank Holmes Prize, a prestigious scholarship that recognises both general academic excellence and the strong quantitative skills required to support world-class research and high quality public policy. Athene also won a Graduate Award in 2014.
Sir Woolf Fisher (1912-1975), co-founder of Fisher and Paykel, set up his Trust in 1960 to recognise and reward excellence in education. Today it has become one of New Zealand’s largest education trusts. He was later knighted for his outstanding contribution to industry and education in New Zealand.
Summer Research Scholarship Projects
The Chir in Public Finance will be supervising two Summer Research Scholarship Projects, beginning mid-November 2014. Both projects have a housing focus, detailed further below.
Why have New Zealand’s rents and house prices diverged?
For almost two decades residential accommodation rents have been approximately constant in real terms while house prices have more than doubled. This project will explore what factors may explain this divergence? In particular, what is known about the relationship between rents and vacancy rates in New Zealand? Also, how reliable is the empirical evidence that house prices have been driven in part by migration and what is the relation between rents and migration? A possible empirical extension would be to apply a VAR model for rents analogous to that for house prices similar to: Coleman, A. and Landon-Lane, J. “Housing markets and migration in New Zealand, 1962-2006”. RBNZ Disc. Paper 2007/12”.
An inquiry into the impacts of agglomeration, development contributions, land taxation on the rate and density of new development in Auckland.
In 2010, the Auckland “super city” was formed through the amalgamation of seven cities consisting of around 200 suburban entities and towns. The amalgamation resulted in all local communities using capital values as the basis for local taxation (‘Rates’), whereas some communities had previously used land values. The new city also transitioned to single system of ‘development contributions’ paid by developers. In principle at least, economists often argue for the adoption of land value taxes instead of capital value taxes because the former encourage the highest and best use of land and are more efficient than a property tax. The Auckland change offers an excellent chance to conduct an empirical evaluation of the tax regime change; in particular, to assess whether changes in land use (e.g. new building developments) resulted from the legislated tax and development contribution changes.
Pre-election Public Lectures
In the run up to the 2014 General Election on 20 September, the Chair in Public Finance hosted two Pre-election Public Lectures on the state of the Government's finances after the election, by the Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Bill English and Labour's Finance Spokesperson, Hon David Parker.
These pages describe the activities and personal views of the Chair in Public Finance. They should not be attributed to Victoria University of Wellington or the Sponsors of the Chair.