Immigration is NOT causing poverty

I did an interview on Radio Live this morning on the economic impact of immigration.  When I went to listen to it afterwards, I found it was marketed under the heading “Immigration causing poverty”.  I’m not sure where they got that idea from what I’d said, but just to be clear my argument is that high rates of immigration to New Zealand over the last 60 or more years have worsened our overall economic performance. But even from my relatively pessimistic perspective, this is still one of the better off countries in the world.  And as readers will recognize, I reckon immigration, if anything, lowers unemployment rather than raises it –  ie puts more short-term pressure on demand than on supply.

In case anyone is interested, here is the link to the interview.—expert/tabid/506/articleID/110378/Default.aspx

UPDATE:  Thanks to Radio Live for changing the heading.

8 thoughts on “Immigration is NOT causing poverty

  1. In the absence of further and better particulars I’m inclined to disagree with you (and I have read your earlier articles backed up with charts)

    This was my published thinking 4 years ago

    1 October 2011
    The here and now is being accepted as the norm. I agree with some of reason’s points. Auckland has changed dramatically in the space of two decades, due largely to un-planned (un-controlled) growth brought about largely by un-controlled (un-planned) immigration. The qualities that attracted migration in recent years are being over-whelmed and changing the place, and not for the better. Reason says he doesn’t want the changes being brought in. It is too late. It has already happened. Old-time residents, will be aware of it, but, like the frog-in-the-boiling-pot, it is part of the landscape and not so obvious. To the frequent visitor it is more than obvious.

    Once upon a time, say 100 years ago, migratation from say the UK and Ireland and parts of Europe tended to be the disenfranchised in their own land who sought the potential for a new start in the antipodes, the lands of milk and honey and sunshine. They tended to arrive with $1 in their pocket with the hope of a fresh start. They started at the bottom of the heap and pushed the locals who were already on the heap upwards. Everyone benefitted. No-one was disadvantaged. Now, over the past two decades the game has changed. The wealthy from other countries are arriving as economic or political refugees with economic clout. They come in at the top of the heap and push the locals down economically speaking. They have the economic clout to out-bid the locals. Price no object.

    The worst aspects are they are arriving at a rate greater than the existing society can assimilate them. They are organising into self-help enclaves. That is one very noticeable change in Auckland. The enclaves. It is new. It is foreign. With the consequential pushing the locals out of their nests, and out-pricing the local new-home creators.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting perspective. My only observation at this stage is that few of the migrants are the “overseas wealthy” (it is those nurses, and café managers etc). Demand for houses from wealthy Chinese does seem to have been an issue – but many of them weren’t becoming resident there – but even that demand looks to have been interrupted by some combination of the NZ tax number requirements and tighter Chinese controls on capital outflows.


    • There are lots of cheap properties outside of Auckland but best be quick as the new rich local Aucklanders that have sold out to new migrants are now buying up the rest of NZ.


  2. These enclaves are not new to Auckland. Auckland has always been priced on racial lines. In the past, suburbs have already been priced more along the lines of Pakeha, Maori and Pacific Islanders. Most cities are priced in a concentric circle where the centre tends to be the most pricey and cheaper as you go further out from the centre. Not so with Auckland. Now you just add Indian and chinese to the mix.


  3. For every migrant that is prepared to pay a higher price, there is a local New Zealander that has retired wealthy due to the higher prices. There is therefore no net loss to New Zealanders. The problem goes back to demand versus supply. If you can supply to that demand then you would not have higher prices and in most cities the answer is high rise buildings but because Auckland has 57 sacred mounts with viewshaft height limits, the closest high rise from Auckland central is New Lynn, Manukau City, Albany which is 40 minutes drive away and an hour plus in peak traffic. Blame those height limits around those 57 sacred mounts. Blame Council planners and their PC approach to Maori heritage sites. Blame Len Brown and Penny Hulse.


  4. “For every migrant that is prepared to pay a higher price, there is a local New Zealander that has retired wealthy due to the higher prices. There is therefore no net loss to New Zealanders.”

    I hear these (supposedly) golden rules touted by the likes of Jamie Whyte who stated (emphatically): “New Zealand needs all the foreign investment it can get”
    Surely there are a wide range of circumstances and outcomes?
    Competition for housing reduces choice.


  5. What you said on Radio Live is the exact opposite of what Professor Paul Spoonley says on National Radio and TV One
    “awff Katherine. These are the best and brightest; they could go anywhere.”

    “we need their skills for the NZ economy” TV One (large numbers of Chinese and Indians migrating)

    “and there’s another word you’ll hear and that’s agglomeration. It is agglomeration that is sucking people into the golden triangle (Auckland Hamilton, Tauranga). Nine to Noon.

    this statement is interesting also:
    “In the 1970s and 1980s we had a debate about what it meant to be tangata whenua in this country and we opened up new spaces to welcome people who are not like me.

    “New Zealand has never been adverse to remaking itself in various ways during its
    relatively short life as a modern state. Whether it was the 1890s, the 1930s or the 1980s,
    far-reaching reforms have dramatically altered the institutions and policies of this society.
    The 1980s marked a range of changes – economic, social, cultural – as the country sought
    to re-align its geo-political connections and the domestic and international
    competitiveness of its economy. For most of the 1980s, the dominant cultural debates
    centred around national identity, and what might be labelled “post-colonialism”, or in
    During’s (1985) terms, coming to know New Zealand in our terms, not those which
    originated with a colonial power. At the core of this re-assessment was an emergent
    biculturalism which involved placing indigeneity and the effects of colonialism on the
    tangata whenua as a key consideration of political and policy development from the
    1970s, and more particularly from 1985. Whether it was the delivery of Maori-sensitive
    welfare and economic policy, increasing the awareness of the impact of colonialism both
    in an historical as well as a contemporary sense, or Treaty settlements, there was a
    significant re-orientation of public perception and practice. It also involved inviting
    others, notably Pakeha, to explore their own post-colonial identity (Spoonley, 1995). But
    almost simultaneously, decisions were being made about New Zealand’s immigration
    policies that were to have far reaching consequences for the cultural politics of New
    Zealand,** although it was to be almost a decade before there was an awareness of what
    exactly this meant.**Those decisions about immigration that saw policy altered from 1986
    onwards have remade the cultural mix of New Zealand and have added a new layer to the
    evolving imagery and policy concerns of this country. ”

    In these circumstances, key questions concern the way in which these changes and their
    impact have been understood by New Zealanders, both “new” and “old”. As with
    anything as significant as the demographic and cultural changes that have occurred, there
    are bound to be concerns. If democratic debate and constructive understanding is to
    emerge, then the quality of information provided in the public domain is an essential pre-
    condition. As with debates about biculturalism, the media play a critical role in
    determining the nature of public discussion and private/public understanding. Along with
    certain institutions, especially the education system, the media provide one of the most
    important, and possibly the most important, point of contact. The media, in all its diverse
    forms – print, radio, television, electronic – is a key institution in the creation and
    distribution of images and messages about our community(ies). **Those significant others
    in our community, in the absence of in-depth personal contact or experience, will be
    described and explained to us via the media.** It helps confirm who we are as individuals
    and members of various communities. As the demographic make-up of New Zealand has
    changed since the late 1980s, the media have played a critical role in exploring what this
    means for all of us. ”


    Paul Spoonley

    So we had a debate but it was almost a decade before there was an awareness of that debate?
    The media are to educate. If so on whose authority?


    After 1997, and certainly since 2000, opinion and feature writers
    adopted a very different approach, prompted in part by a major downturn in Asian
    immigration and a greater appreciation of at least the economic benefits of
    immigration but also as a result of a growing awareness amongst journalists that
    they had a role to play in explaining (positively) the complex issues of immigration.

    Reporting Superdiversity. The
    Mass Media and Immigration
    in New Zealand

    Click to access JIS%20Spoonley%20and%20Butcher.pdf

    Shouldn’t *positively* be replaced by *objectively*? He is a “distinguished” Professor?


  6. Media is just a collection of personal opinions with a editor that ensures that the news sells newspapers and balanced with some standards to ensure they do not get sued. Immigration is a replacement policy. Government just decided that the cost of a declining population was higher than the cost of a higher population afterall they were responsible for managing taxpayer funds.

    As our trading partners from India and China began to become our largest export markets and our participation in the welfare of the polynesian nations it just got more difficult to discriminate and maintain solely a pakeha based migrant program.


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