Australians flocking to New Zealand?

This morning’s Herald points readers to a Weekend Australian feature  suggesting that New Zealand has become the place to be (“What has happened is that somewhere, somehow, perhaps in the dead of night when no one was looking, Australia and New Zealand have swapped sides”) and that thousands of Australians are flocking to New Zealand, for its better-performing economy (and government).

A couple of weeks ago, I highlighted this curious tendency in Australian commentary (especially that from the centre-right), which seemed quite detached from anything in the data.  But, still, I wondered if I had missed something in the migration numbers.

Here is the chart of the monthly seasonally adjusted net flow from/to Australia, broken down between New Zealand citizens and others (the latter mostly Australians).  And, sure enough, there has been a noticeable increase in the net inflow of Australians.  That tends to happen whenever economic cycles are out of sync and temporarily in our favour.

But, even now, the inflow of (mostly) Australians is running at around 5000 per annum.  And even in recent months, with the Australian labour market as tough as it has been for 25 years, that inflow is still outweighed by the net flow of New Zealand citizens to Australia.

Yes, the labour market is a bit easier in New Zealand at present than it is in Australia, although at 5.7% our unemployment rate is not something to be complacent about.  But nothing has happened to even begin to reverse the decades-long widening in the now very large gap between New Zealand and Australian incomes and productivity.  And favourable commentary from the other side of the Tasman will be a false friend if it distracts from the serious economic challenges that our own policymakers should be grappling with.

aus migration

2 thoughts on “Australians flocking to New Zealand?

  1. Hi Michael

    Given Australia is 5-7 times the size of nz then I think these numbers look impressive! If there were actually more Australians coming to nz than NZers the other way then that would be a remarkable think indeed!

    Sent from my iPad


  2. I see your point Kelly, although almost all the variation in the net flow is in the NZ citizen component. To me, the more striking point in the data is (a) how markedly the net NZ outflow shrank, and (b) that, even now, there is still a net outflow of NZers. Against that, 5000 Australians coming here – some of whom will probably be spouses/partners of NZ citizens – seems pretty modest. More Filipinos, Indians, and even Brits come!


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