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Guest lecture

Are We Too Reliant on Migration? New Zealand's Demographic and Economic Challenges

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In many respects, New Zealand (along with Canada and Australia) is ahead of the curve in terms of supplementing the local talent pool and recruiting prime age residents with a targeted immigration framework. As more countries demographically age and look to recruit skilled immigrants – or retain them in the case of countries such as China – competition will grow. New Zealand will need to adjust its approach to immigrant recruitment if it is to be internationally competitive – but it also needs to address internal issues such as the quality of the local lifestyle (which is the most significant reason that immigrants identify for coming here) and economic outcomes, including labour market matching and labour/capital returns. But other forms of migration complicate New Zealand’s future. The significantly enhanced levels of emigration that have occurred since 2008 have eased some of the negative impacts locally of the Global Financial Crises but have also contributed to both demographic and skills losses. Further, the economic and demographic dominance of Auckland is juxtaposed with a growing number of regions that are flatlining in terms of population (or experiencing population decline in some cases). Internal migration, combined with immigration and declining fertility, adds to regional population imbalances.


Paul is the Programme Leader for the Integration of Immigrants Programme and Nga Tangata Oho Mairangi and the Research Director for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Massey University. He was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of California Berkeley in 2010, and in 2013 he will be a Visiting Professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen and a contributor to the MISOCO (Migration and Social Cohesion) programme at the University of Amsterdam. He is the author or editor of 28 books, the most recent being Welcome to Our World? Immigration and the Reshaping of New Zealand (2012) and Diverse Nations, Diverse Responses. Approaches to Social Cohesion in Immigrant Societies (2012).

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Last updated: 
Tuesday, 16 April 2013