Professor takes out economics prize

29 Aug, 2018
Professor Gail Pacheco with award

AUT professor of economics, Gail Pacheco, has received the 2018 NZIER Economics Award in recognition of research that provides insights into social issues affecting the country.

Selected by an independent panel, the NZIER Economics Award seeks to highlight “outstanding contributions to the advancement of economics and its applications in New Zealand”.

To qualify for the award a contribution must advance economic matters of direct relevance to New Zealand and likely to be of long-term lasting importance to New Zealand.

“Her work stands out for its diversity, quantity and quality,” says the awarding panel, made up of Reserve Bank assistant governor John McDermott, Deputy Secretary & Chief Economic Adviser at The Treasury, Tim Ng, Waikato University's Professor Mark Holmes, Export NZ executive director Catherine Beard, and Dr Veronica Jacobson from MBIE.

“She focuses on the analysis of important social issues, with a particular emphasis on labour and health research. Her work has covered inter-generational welfare effects, gender, education as both a driver and an outcome, industry structures, culture, job satisfaction and well-being measures, health as it relates to employment, health system service delivery, and ethnic disparities.

“Of particular note is her work on the gender pay gap. Based on her research findings, the Ministry of Women produced an employer guide with seven actions for employers who want to know how to assess if they have a gender pay gap, and what to do about it. The supporting research has been consistently cited, domestically and internationally, by the Human Rights Commission and other stakeholders. It is now forming the basis of policy initiatives by the Government to help close the gender pay gap,” says the awarding panel.

Professor Pacheco says researching in areas that impact on economic policy has driven her for the majority of her career, from investigating the effects of the minimum wage as an Honours student through to her current role as Director of the New Zealand Work Research Institute at AUT, however she often worries she is part of a dwindling group in academia.

“This award makes me even more motivated to continue to strive to highlight the value of research with direct relevance to New Zealand.”

Head of the School of Economics at AUT, Professor Tim Maloney, says Gail has made immense contributions over many years now to applied economic and public policy analysis in New Zealand.

“Her work spans a number of fields within our own discipline, as well as connecting economics to other subjects like demography, management and health.  The School of Economics at AUT is proud that Gail’s work has been recognised this year with the annual NZIER Economics Award.”

It is the second time an AUT academic has received the NZIER Economics Award. In 2014 Professor Marilyn Waring was acknowledged for a career in politics, government and academia particularly marked by her courage and persistence in campaigning for full recognition of the economic worth of contributions made outside of the formal labour markets.

Read more about the NZIER Economics Award and its past winners

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