NZIER welcomes Productivity Commission’s migration recommendations

20 April 2021

New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (Inc)
Media Release, 20 April 2021

“The Productivity Commission’s recommendation that the government review migration policy is timely and welcome”, NZIER Principal Economist Peter Wilson said today.

He was commenting on the release of the Commission’s Frontier Firms inquiry final report.

NZIER was asked by the Commission to look at the evidence of the effects of migration policy on New Zealand’s frontier firms.

Our first report – Could Do Better – was released by the Commission last December.

Our latest report – Picking Cherries – was released today.

In this new report, we outline the evidence on the impacts of seasonal, temporary migrant workers, and examine the short- and long-run impacts of low-cost/low-skill temporary migrant labour on the New Zealand economy.

We reviewed literature from New Zealand and other developed countries, with a particular focus on the horticulture sector.

The literature holds few ‘rules of thumb’ when it comes to the impacts of immigration.

Convenient conclusions from overseas literature should be viewed with caution, rather than lifted and applied wholesale to New Zealand. Context matters when it comes to migration.

Temporary immigration can provide net benefits to migrants and their host communities, provided policy is developed having regard to local conditions and kept under ongoing review. Very few reviews of this sort have accompanied the recent significant increase in pre-Covid-19 temporary migration into New Zealand.

Our July 2020 NZIER Insight Migration after Covid-19, recommended that when we reopen the border, we should take the opportunity to do so under policy settings that will improve the wellbeing of both New Zealanders and migrants.

The three areas that we said should be examined, debated and resolved are:

  • setting migration policy so it respects the Crown’s Treaty obligations
  • the effect of migration on productivity, wages, and capital investment
  • the costs and benefits of increasing some extended family migration.

For further information please contact:
Peter Wilson
Principal Economist, NZIER Auckland office
021 870928 |

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