Background papers

These papers commissioned for the 2013 review of retirement income policies, and selected papers from previous reviews, are the views of each author and don’t necessarily reflect the view of the Retirement Commissioner. All 2013 papers have undergone two peer reviews except where indicated.

History and trends

New Zealand's first age pension was introduced in 1898. Since then, our system of retirement income has evolved and adapted as times have changed. The papers below describe the broad global, national, financial and historical context for today's retirement income policies.

The history of retirement income in New Zealand to date (PDF 699.68 KB, Mar 2013)

The history of retirement income in New Zealand to 2008 (PDF 433.9 KB, Dec 2012)

Implications of global trends for retirement income policy (PDF 742.23 KB, Mar 2013)

The impact of and issues arising from the global financial crisis (PDF 451.45 KB, Dec 2012)

Longevity trends and their implications for the eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation (PDF 986.15 KB, May 2013)

International comparisons

New Zealand is not alone in addressing issues related to retirement income policies. Other countries have responded in different ways but there are also similarities. These papers offer some international comparisons, with a particular focus on Australia and New Zealand.

Comparison of the New Zealand and Australian retirement income systems (PDF 846.4 KB, Mar 2013)

Retirement security and financial literacy in New Zealand: policy lessons from abroad (PDF 297.92 KB, Mar 2013)

The financial system post the GFC: roles, regulation and responsibilities (PDF 289.39 KB, Mar 2013)

What’s happening to pension ages in OECD countries (PDF 143 KB, Sep 2013)

Current system

This section describes New Zealand's current system of retirement income, including the contribution of wider policies and programmes, and outlines the key outcomes achieved by the system.

New Zealand's current retirement income policies (PDF 652.01 KB, May 2013)

Material wellbeing of older New Zealanders (PDF 676.23 KB, Aug 2013)

Contribution of wider policies and programmes (PDF 339.02 KB, Mar 2013)

The influence of an older population structure on public finances (PDF 375.59 KB, Sep 2013)

Overall sustainability of New Zealand's retirement income framework (PDF 345.58 KB, Jan 2013)

Disabled people and provision for retirement (PDF 115.29 KB, Mar 2013)

From the macro to the micro of New Zealand savings (PDF 382.13 KB, Sep 2013)

Tax matters (PDF 199.69 KB, Apr 2013)

Note: The above paper received just one peer review.

Intergenerational impacts

This paper analyses the consequences of expanding New Zealand's retirement income framework on a save-as-you-go basis rather than on a pay-as-you-go basis. 
To save or save not: intergenerational neutrality and the expansion of New Zealand Superannuation (PDF 548.49 KB, May 2013)

Read a rejoinder to this paper (PDF 247.78 KB, May 2013).


KiwiSaver is now over seven years old, and as time goes on the scheme will assume greater importance in the retirement income framework. This paper gives an update on how things are progressing with KiwiSaver.
The place of KiwiSaver in New Zealand's retirement income framework (PDF 907.13 KB, Mar 2013)

Superannuation and KiwiSaver clauses in collective employment agreements (PDF 233.65 KB, Jul 2013)

New Zealand Superannuation Fund

The role and performance of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (PDF 209.67 KB, Apr 2013)

Financial literacy in retirement income

The case for financial literacy (PDF 609.12 KB, Apr 2013)


Housing is a crucial pillar of New Zealand's retirement income policies. This paper discusses a number of issues which will need to be addressed if New Zealand Superannuation is to continue to provide a broadly adequate income for older New Zealanders.

Housing assets (PDF 942.16 KB, Sep 2013)

Note: The above paper received just one peer review.


Working longer to boost retirement income is an option taken by many older New Zealanders, and our workforce participation rate for over 65s is very high by international standards. This paper describes how employment is an important element of New Zealand's retirement income framework.

Workforce participation of older workers (PDF 1.02 MB, Mar 2013)

Women’s retirement income prospects

We commissioned research into women’s retirement income prospects to feed into the 2013 Review. See Women’s retirement income.

Income and expenditure in retirement

Many New Zealanders will accumulate financial resources to help sustain them when they retire from paid employment. However, there is debate on exactly how much is needed for an adequate retirement. Links below show three different scenarios on levels of spending in retirement.

Expenditure in retirement (PDF 374.28 KB, Aug 2013)

2013 New Zealand retirement expenditure guidelines

A minimum income for healthy living – older New Zealanders

Less attention is given to how those resources are actually managed in retirement. Click on the links below for discussion on issues surrounding decumulation and managing income in retirement.

Assuring retirement income (PDF 190.45 KB, May 2013)

Managing assets and income in retirement (PDF 322.61 KB, Jan 2013)

Spending the savings: Decumulation and middle-income retirement

The Retirement Policy and Research Centre has also published a paper: Financing of Long-term Care and Long-term Care Insurance for the Aged: A Literature-based Comparison of Seven OECD Countries