Last night’s NZIER annual dinner was excellent. The plenary lecture, by Gratten’s John Daley, was excellent. It wasn’t videoed, but his presentation of similar material to Auckland Council was videoed. The only part where I would disagree with John, or at least in the NZIER version is in his discussion of the effects of housing supply on female labour force participation. At the Wellington event, he said that long commuting times from places with affordable houses result in those places having single-earner families. I think causality there is more complicated, and I expect his book gets into it more thoroughly. But surely the reason that scarce downtown properties are bid up are that those locations are highly complementary to high human capital, and that families with two such earners will outbid those with only one. So high human capital, two-earner families wind up downtown and single-earner ones sort to farther places. The pattern of single/double earner families and distance from downtown jobs is likely driven by that kind of mechanism rather than that the longer commuting times in the suburbs drive women out of employment – though one can imagine its going both ways.