Saturday, 29 June 2013

Yesterday's regional GDP data

Statistics New Zealand has just published the first official regional GDP data, in current prices for the four years to March 2010.

Personally, in feedback to Stats on prioritising economic statistics, I've been rather curmudgeonly about investing in regional data. It's not obvious that a country with just shy of 4.5 million people needs much regional data: we're so small already that breaking the data down into even smaller regional views doesn't make a lot of sense to me. You don't (for example) see geographical breakdowns of suburban GDP in Sydney, even though the Sydney economy is larger than New Zealand's. And I'm still not sure whether the money that went into these regional data wouldn't have been better spent on the gaps in our national accounts.

All that said, there have been strong interest groups (including an important political one) pushing for more regional information, so here we are. And to be fair, they do provide a useful benchmark for planning and policy purposes. Maybe the fact that Auckland generates 35% of national GDP might help change some attitudes to where the wealth of the country comes from.

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