Immigration settings

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The Productivity Commission has completed its inquiry into what immigration policy settings would best facilitate New Zealand’s long-term economic growth and promote the wellbeing of New Zealanders. Our final report Immigration - Fit for the future makes 32 findings and 24 recommendations to Government.

We would like to thank everyone who made a submission, met with us, or shared their perspectives, experience, research or policy inputs to this important work.

Immigration settings

Timeline

  • Our brief
    3 May 2021
  • Issues paper
    21 June 2021
  • Submissions welcome on issues paper
  • Preliminary findings and recommendations
    8 November 2021
  • Submissions welcome on preliminary findings
  • Submissions close 24 December 2021
  • Final report to Government
    30 April 2022
  • Public release
    31 May 2022
  • Independent evaluation
    September 2022
  • Government response

Webinar: Immigration by the numbers

Dr Philip Stevens, Director, Economics & Research at the New Zealand Productivity Commission and Government Economics Network board member, will speak about the Commission's Immigration: By the numbers findings at a GEN webinar on Tuesday 12 July from 12.30pm-1.30pm.

Register here.

The inquiry

At the request of the referring Ministers, the Commission has completed this inquiry into immigration settings for New Zealand’s long-term prosperity and wellbeing. Read our brief.

The Commission published its preliminary findings and recommendations in November 2021. They created considerable interest and feedback, representing a range of views. The final report was published in May 2022 and benefitted from this feedback, as well as from 181 submissions and over 65 meetings with individuals, government and non-government organisations and firms throughout New Zealand.


What did the inquiry find?

  • Immigration is not likely to be the solution nor the cause of the productivity challenges facing Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • The relationship between productivity and immigration requires a balance of trade-offs between government objectives, and a consideration of short‑run and long‑run impacts.
  • Immigration has played an important part in New Zealand’s economic development.
  • On average, immigration is not driving down wages nor displacing local workers.
  • The use of Labour Market Tests, Skill Shortage Lists and tying migrants to employers can suppress wages and productivity.
  • The supply of infrastructure is less responsive to population growth now than in the past.

What does the Commission recommend?

Final report cover - group of diverse hands held in middleSuccessive governments need a robust and transparent way to balance the longer-term benefits of immigration policy with short-term pressures and challenges. Alongside this, the focus of immigration policy should be on selecting migrants who can make the biggest contribution to the economy and ensuring that New Zealand remains attractive to skilled migrants as the global competition for talent intensifies. The Commission recommends the Government:

  • Publish an Immigration Government Policy Statement (GPS) to clarify how immigration will be managed and connected to other government objectives, including what investments will be made in absorptive capacity.
  • Create stronger links with education and training policies through the GPS and by requiring Workforce Development Councils to report on how demand for migrant labour and skill gaps inform their training priorities.
  • Engage with Māori in good faith on how to reflect Te Tiriti o Waitangi in immigration policy and institutions.
  • Increase funding for iwi involvement and partnership in the expansion of the Welcoming Communities initiative.
  • Reduce the use of Skills Shortage Lists for immigration purposes and encourage wages to reflect scarcity.
  • Regularly review visa categories and the residency points system to ensure they sufficiently prioritise high skilled migrants.
  • Cease the practice of tying migrants to a single employer.
  • Provide additional funding for the Labour Inspectorate to support labour market regulation, the proposed accredited employer scheme, and the integrity of the immigration system.

Our final report presents 24 recommendations to Government. Find out more, download the following:

Immigration by the numbers

Immigration by the numbers report cover - crane with construction workersWho migrates to New Zealand, and what skills do they bring? How do migration trends in New Zealand compare with the rest of the world? 

Our Immigration by the numbers publication presents the immigration trends and quantitative analysis that informed this inquiry. Read Immigration by the numbers or a Summary here. The 'Supporting data' is available to download in 'Key documents' at the bottom of this page.  


What's next?

Our final report has been presented to the House of Representatives and we look forward to the Government's response. An independent evaluation of the inquiry will now be conducted. The results will be made available on this page. 

Please see below for all supporting research, documentation and case studies for this inquiry.


Evaluation

An independent evaluation of the inquiry has been undertaken to assess the Commission's performance and learn for the future. This uses three external sources of feedback: an expert review, participant interviews and online survey.