Migration and firm-level productivity

Migration is an important element in the functioning of the world economy. As well as alleviating domestic labour shortages, migrant workers bring new knowledge and skills which can boost the productivity of the firms they work in, benefitting both firm owners and their fellow workers. However, some fear that immigrant workers may put downward pressure on the salaries of domestic workers, and that their ability to contribute may be limited due to language or cultural barriers. 

Migration and Productivity, by Richard Fabling, David C Maré and Philip Stevens, examines how migrants contribute to productivity in New Zealand. Using administrative data on the flows of migrants into and out of New Zealand, visas, earnings and jobs between 2004 and 2019, the research explores how the relative productivity and wages of migrants differ – both from those of the New Zealand-born and across different groups of migrants. 

Number 2022/01


Productivity growth

The goal of our research is to facilitate a move from an economy that grows by using more “inputs” (such as labour or natural resources), to one where productivity plays a greater role in driving economic growth – essentially, working smarter, with greater financial and knowledge capital employed per worker.

Our research explores a wide range of productivity issues: employment, firm dynamics, technology diffusion, innovation, regional development, spatial and public-sector productivity.

Working together

The commissioning of research and the practice of collaboration with others is important to us. It enables us to access subject/sector specialists and benefit from the cross-promotion of ideas and insights. You will find research from the Commission, as well as research we commissioned, below.

Strengthening learning

Our Economics & Research team is independently evaluated every two years to understand how to improve and enhance our impact. See the latest evaluation report and 2020 survey results here.


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