About Data1850

New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has been preparing linked economic data about NZ covering the period since 1850. This long-term dataset provides invaluable information about the country’s past economic performance, and helps people consider the future. 

NZIER has made all of this long-term data easily accessible by creating the Data1850 website – the fastest way to graph, visualise, compare and download New Zealand's oldest economic data. Data1850 is free to use and available to anyone.

How do I use Data1850?

What do you want to know about New Zealand’s economic history? Data1850 enables you to create and share graphs that answer questions like how does spending on health compare to other government spending? Or how does New Zealand’s GDP growth compare to the growth in wages and salaries?

Data1850 can be used to answer questions and start conversations about New Zealand’s economic performance. It’s an invaluable tool for economists, journalists, students and the general public who want to improve their understanding of changes to economics in New Zealand.

Data1850 also lets you change time periods, change the unit of measure, and compare different datasets on a single graph. The economic data used to create each graph can then be downloaded and manipulated further. The entire long-term dataset of New Zealand economic history can also be downloaded from Data1850.

Public Good

The development of Data1850 was funded as part of NZIER’s Public Good programme. The programme aims to promote a better understanding of New Zealand’s important economic challenges and opportunities. NZIER provides economic expertise to enable clients to make better business and policy decisions.

How is the data organised?

The data behind Data1850 is organised into five key areas: Government, Economic Activity, Prices, International Linkages, and People. These areas are based on the sections of the book ‘Looking at the Numbers’ by Phil Briggs – the definitive economic history of New Zealand. Data1850 also provides summaries from this book available for download.

Why start at 1850?

There is no reliable economic or statistics data available for years prior to 1850. The earliest data we have included in Data1850 comes from a publication titled "Statistics of New Zealand for the Crown Colony Period 1840-1852”. For the early years after 1850 we use the historical estimates prepared by economic historians augmented by other sources including early Official Yearbooks and Censuses. These have been linked to regular statistical series such as Treasury fiscal data and Statistics NZ publications.

Brought to you by NZIER