The Pastoral Boom, the Rural Land Market, and Long Swings in New Zealand Economic Growth 1873-1939
A pastoral boom led to higher farm and manufacturing productivity and to New Zealand attaining the world’s highest HDI in 1913. Staple exports invigorated the land market, diffused rural land ownership, and fostered intensive growth. The gains from higher land prices spread widely, but land market volatility also created instability. New Zealand had the world’s highest GDP per capita in 1938, but she experienced long swings in her growth rates. Dramatic swings in rural land market activity engendered by the pastoral boom contributed powerfully to a long depression in the 1920s; subsequently a new monetary regime facilitated fast recovery.