We welcome the PM into motherhood, too (but oops – did our GDP per capita just shrink a tad?)

The  global impact  of  the  birth of the Prime Minister’s baby at Auckland Hospital  cannot  be  over-estimated.  It has won headlines around he world, all for the right  reasons, for NZ.  Congratulations poured in from many world leaders.

There was great rejoicing at Point of Order, too. We extend our heartiest congratulations.

The symbolism  was  what  counted for  many of those  reporting the  event.  For example, a report from Lucy Hawkins, the BBC  correspondent in Moscow who is moderating reports of the  World  Cup, was headlined “the  baby a nation was waiting  for.”

She saw it  as a  message for girls  around the world:

 “You can  aspire to be  a  leader of the country  and  at the  same time have a family”

The combination of motherhood and prime minister has only once  before  been recorded, when Benazir Bhutto led Pakistan.

And let there be no doubt about our admiration:  it has been an  amazing achievement for Jacinda Ardern, as she  burnishes  NZ’s reputation for gender equality.

But we have been musing on the prospect of the whole country – those of a reproductive age, anyway – hastening to follow the leader and her partner into parenthood.

What then?  A baby boom of unprecedented dimensions with profound socio-economic consequences, surely.

The prospect of other women rushing to get a taste of the exaltation that accompanies motherhood should not be dismissed.

We draw attention to this headline: “Alice Snedden: Jacinda has made me clucky.”

This summed up the reaction from a comedian, writer and improviser at the time the PM’s pregnancy was announced:

Snedden wrote in her column at Stuff:

“While the world has celebrated the good news that Jacinda Ardern is carrying the second coming, I’ve been in a quiet turmoil.

“As a young woman in her mid 20s (25-29), I’ve had a series of reactions to the good news. Like the rest of the country, I initially reacted disproportionately as if the child was my own and I had just found out I was pregnant.”

And:

“I felt, for the first time in my life that I wanted to have kids, and this corresponded directly with a sudden attraction to dads…”

The announcement of the PM’s entrance into motherhood (thereby making a contribution to population growth and to a resetting of per capita statistics) followed the announcement earlier in the day of the latest GDP figures.

These included data showing growth in expenditure on GDP in current prices per capita had eased from 3.9% in the year to March 2017 to 3.8% in the year to March 2018. Growth in GDP in 2009/10 prices per capita more sharply fell from 1.6% to 0.6%.

The increase in real gross national disposable income per capita fell from 2.6% to 1.3%.

National’s Amy Adams referred to these at Question Time while Finance Minister Grant Robertson was banging on about the Government’s ambitions for New Zealand’s economy.

She asked how the Government was helping transition the economy to become more productive when the latest figures showed real per capita growth is going backwards and was at its lowest level since 2011.

Robertson ignored the per capita element of the question, more broadly saying GDP growth for the quarter was in line with what economists were expecting. Thirteen of 16 industries grew in the quarter; annual GDP growth was 2.7 per cent, in line with the OECD average; and business investment was up 5.5 per cent year on year, compared with 3.7 per cent in the previous year under the previous government.

Adams asked if Robertson agreed GDP per capita growth is what matters most for achieving higher material living standards and that falling GDP per capita is showing that New Zealanders were working harder and harder for less, noting that both of those statements had been made by Robertson in his Opposition days.

Robertson delighted in responding:

“And what a sensible member Grant Robertson, Opposition MP, was. What I would say to that member is GDP per capita will increase once we move to a more sustainable, more productive, and inclusive economy. I would also suggest to the finance spokesperson for the Opposition that she perhaps listen to her predecessor, who said that it was unwise to look at quarterly numbers because they go both up and down.”

Indeed they do

And the next set of numbers – by our reckoning – will be fascinating.

Whatever our total GDP might have been at the time the PM gave birth, she has added one more Kiwi (no matter how tiny) to the population side of the data base. This – by our reckoning – means she reduced our GDP per capita a tad.

Let’s see what Adams can make of this…

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