Q + A with Lisa Meehan
Lisa Meehan joined NZWRI in 2019 as the Associate Director (Economics and Research). We asked Lisa to give us an insight into her career history and life outside of work, here is what she said:
1. What has been your career journey so far in the field of economics?
My time in economics has taken me from a graduate position in an economic consulting firm, to the public sector (the Treasury and Productivity Commission), and then to the OECD in Paris. I returned to NZ last year to take on the role of Associate Director (Economics and Research) at the NZWRI. So I’ve covered most of the broad categories of economist jobs: consulting, public sector and academia – the only noticeable thing missing from the list is bank economist.
2. Describe your key research focus when at the OECD and highlights of that research.
I worked in the OECD Economics Department and for most of my time there I was on the Mexico and Costa Rica desk, undertaking and applying research to provide real-world policy advice. A professional highlight was when our advice translated into positive policy changes. For example, in Costa Rica, our advice influenced reforms to further increase the independence of the central bank and changes to labour market regulations aimed at bringing more workers into the formal economy. Unsurprisingly, personal highlights included living in Paris and visiting Latin America on a regular basis.
3. Describe your current role at NZWRI and your current research focus.
My current research focuses on using linked administrative data (particularly Statistics NZ's Integrated Data Infrastructure and Longitudinal Business Database). This covers a wide variety of topics from examining the impact of paid parental leave to the overlap between crime victimisation and offences, to underutilisation in the labour market, and much more. More often than not, the key aim of these research projects is to provide evidence-based insights to inform policy.
4. What makes this research impactful?
One of the features of our work is that it tends to be commissioned research projects from government agencies. This means that we work closely with the policy makers when designing the research programme and interrogating the data. Examples of current research in this vein include: examining the relationship between occupational health and safety risk in NZ and future of work patterns (project for WorkSafe); and investigating the lifecourse trajectories and outcomes of adults living with low literacy and/or numeracy skills (MBIE Endeavour Grant).
5. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy going to the gym, and have recently been spending most of my weekends house hunting – although, thankfully I have now found a place, as the search had diminishing marginal utility. Now that I have some additional spare time, I going to fire up my language learning neurons before I completely forget what little French I once knew.