Think of a number and multiply by 80000
Bernard Hickey in the Herald
Imagine the public outrage if it were discovered that more than 80,000 New Zealanders were receiving wages, salaries and investment incomes of more than $6 billion a year, but were also receiving a benefit from the Government.
Income figures this week from Statistics NZ show more than 80,000 New Zealanders over the age of 65 receive wages, salaries and investment returns of more than $6.5 billion a year while claiming NZ Super.
It certainly helps to summon the outrage if you uses totals rather than averages. I think there could be a reasonable case for means-testing NZ Super, but these numbers are not a contribution to informed public debate.
I’m not even sure where he got the data: he says “income figures this week from Statistics NZ”, and the only plausible source on the Stats NZ release calendar seems to be the NZ Income Survey, released on October 4. But in the NZ Income Survey data, table 8 says there are only 53,900 people aged 65+ with income above $1150/wk, which works out to just under $60000/year (including their NZ Super, of course). His figures could still be right — perhaps the very wealthy people at the top drag the total up — but they can only be right in the same sense as Bill English‘s “people earning under $110000 collectively pay no net income tax”.
Imagine the public outrage if it were discovered that nearly 54000 retired New Zealanders were earning over $45000/yr from investments and salaries and still collecting NZ Super as well. Go on, imagine it.
Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »