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International migration to New Zealand: Future opportunities and challenges


New Zealand Productivity Commission

Date published

8 November 2021

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The Productivity Commission has been assigned an inquiry by the Government to examine New Zealand’s immigration system, and make recommendations that would best facilitate its contribution to long-term economic growth and the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

The Terms of Reference for this inquiry direct the Commission to consider immigration settings that would best contribute to New Zealand’s “long-term prosperity and wellbeing” (Minister of Finance, 2021; emphasis added). As part of this work, the Commission decided to look forward over the next 10 to 30 years, to identify factors that might significantly influence the need for, and supply of, migrants in New Zealand.

This report looks at the demographic, environmental and economic drivers of migration, among the many factors that affect peoples’ aspirations and capabilities to migrate (Chapter 1). It briefly reviews the underlying drivers of global migration and explores New Zealand’s migration flows in the last few decades (Chapter 2). It also investigates the impacts of major demographic and climate trends, and external shocks, on future migration flows to and from New Zealand. The report focuses on the major long-term trends that were emerging prior to Covid-19 pandemic, but also discusses the implications for migration of a possible technology and productivity upswing in the wake of the pandemic. It considers New Zealand’s ability to use migration to take advantage of opportunities and tackle these challenges (Chapter 3). Finally, it outlines some scenarios which lay out possible futures and sets of immigration policy choices that could be taken in response (Chapter 4).

About the Commission's immigration inquiry.



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