Hard Stuff or MBIE puff piece?

According to TVNZ,  “The Hard Stuff sees Nigel Latta tackling the key issues facing NZers”, funded with taxpayers’ money through NZ On Air.

I don’t think I’d watched any of Latta’s programmes previously, but when I heard a couple of years ago that he was planning to tackle immigration I suppose I welcomed the notion that a mainstream broadcaster would give serious coverage to a major instrument of economic (and social) policy.

Shortly after Latta’s new series got underway, I’d heard underwhelming things about the immigration episode from people who’d watched it on the website.  But I only got round to watching it this weekend, after it was broadcast last Tuesday.

Frankly, even with the warnings I’d had, I was staggered at how much of a puff piece it was.  In many respects MBIE and the Minister of Immigration must have been delighted. But if that is the strongest case that can be made for New Zealand’s large-scale non-citizen immigration policy, we should be pretty worried.  Being a bit of a naïve optimist at times, I keep expecting someone –  MBIE, Treasury, the Minister, supportive academics, whoever –  to come up with some pretty compelling evidence or argumentation to seek to demonstrate how New Zealanders have benefited (economically) from one of the largest actively managed immigration programmes in the world.  But they don’t.  It must leave thoughtful supporters of the policy at least a little uncomfortable.

Latta’s programme had three main interviewees:

  • Nigel Bickle, the senior bureaucrat who heads the Immigration New Zealand arm of MBIE and who –  being a public servant –  is simply the mouthpiece for government policy.  The MBIE website describes his background as  follows:  “the majority of his experience is in front-line service delivery, in a number of operational and support leadership roles specifically within complex organisations undertaking change”.  Those are really valuable skills in some public sector roles, perhaps even in Immigration New Zealand, but I’m not sure they suggest he has much to offer on the costs and benefits to New Zealand of a large scale immigration programme.
  • An immigration consultant, and
  • Professor Paul Spoonley, an academic sociologist, one of the key academic advocates of New Zealand’s immigration policy, and one of the key figures in the MBIE-funded research programme CADDANZ, a programme that simply assumes the benefits of large-scale immigration.  I dealt with some of his overblown economic claims here.

There was some brief snippets from several  other pro-immigration people –  including one who claimed, incorrectly, that there had been a net influx of New Zealanders to Auckland (thus to downplay the role of non-citizen immigration on house prices) when the data suggest quite the opposite over recent decades.   And there were several heartwarming snippets from immigrant families, and from the Principal of Rangitoto College and that was about it.

The intended message seemed to be “there’s really nothing to worry your silly little heads about”.  And while I suspect (hope) he didn’t really mean to tar everyone with any doubts about the programme in this way, the only reference to alternative perspectives  that I spotted in the entire programme was to “racist idiots”.  Take that….

We were told (reasonably enough) that some past mistakes in the immigration programme  had now been fixed.  For example, there really had been an influx of highly-qualified people in the 1990s whose qualifications were not recognized here (while now the programme puts a strong emphasis on applicants having a job offer).  I was a little surprised to learn that in the 2013 census data, 62 per cent of taxi-drivers really were overseas-born.  Some of the least satisfactory features of the family stream of the immigration programme have been fixed –  one such featured (sibling) arrival seemed to be working extremely hard, but as his two jobs were at Pak N Save and as a cleaner it didn’t seem likely that the spillover benefits to the rest of the economy were large.  And, of course, we still allow around 4000 a year in under “parent visas”.

Bickle  –  that “front-line service delivery expert” –  argues that we need lots of immigration because a country “can’t get wealthy trading with ourselves”.  There seemed to be quite a bit of confusion there.  Of course, small countries (in particular) need to trade internationally, but that tells one simply nothing about the case for (or against) large scale immigration.  As it happens, and as I’ve pointed out before, most countries –  and especially most countries of our sort of size population –  export and import a much larger per cent of their GDP than New Zealand does.  And that is true whether or not those countries have had lots of immigration.  Even the academic advocates of immigration accept that the evidence that immigration does much to boost the export share of GDP is pretty slender.  I’d argue that there is a good case that in New Zealand (specifically) rapid population growth has, if anything, crowded out growth in exporting.

Towards the end of the show, Latta was burbling on about how “the economic gains are a no-brainer”.  And – in his view –  there are no other plausible risks/downsides of a large scale immigration programme,  So, he concludes, “immigrants are doing us a favour” and we should really be grateful to them for choosing to settle here –  rather than, he implied rather than directly stated, complaining or indulging those “racist idiots”.

You might wonder how Latta concluded  that the economic gains to New Zealand were a ‘no-brainer’.  I did.  I guess that is what comes of approaching the issue with what appears to have been a pre-conceived answer in mind, talking only to advocates of the immigration programme, and misinterpreting (or misapplying) a consultant’s report.

For some time, MBIE (and its predecessors) have been paying consultancy firm BERL to produce a report every few years, drawing heavily on Census data as well as other material from government agencies, to produce an estimate of the fiscal impact of immigration.  The latest such report was released, MBIE tell me, a couple of weeks ago.  But, as it suited MBIE’s agenda, it had been provided to Latta well in advance of that (the programme was the website before the BERL report was available to the public).  On this particular methodology, BERL estimates that the average non New Zealand born person (“immigrant”) contributed a net $2653 to central government finances, compared with only a net $172 per New Zealand born person.

The Minister of Immigration and MBIE are obviously keen on this report,  Only a week or so ago, Michael Woodhouse, Minister of Immigration, appeared on TVNZ’s Q&A programme and was asked, near the end of his interview, if there was in fact any evidence that, over the longer-term, our immigration programme lifts exports, productivity etc.  Not in the least abashed, Woodhouse responded that there most certainly was such evidence, citing a report BERL “put out just last month” which demonstrated a very strong positive contribution.  I looked around for such a report and eventually had to ask MBIE what the Minister was referring to.  I was told it was the BERL fiscal paper linked to in the previous paragraph.

I hope the Minister had simply misunderstood that report.  It is an interesting exercise in its own way, but it has very considerable limitations.  Let’s start with those the BERL authors themselves list:

This study focuses on a subset of relevant issues and is subject to a number of limitations
1. The study concerns the impacts of gross immigration, not of net migration flows.
2. The study concentrates on fiscal rather than economic impacts. Due to this the study is limited to estimating the direct monetary impacts on the government’s operating budget.
3. The study does not cover all components of the government accounts.
4. This study captures a number of influences on differences in the fiscal impacts between population groups. Data limitations restrict the degree to which within group differences can be used to estimate overall impacts.

To be clear, the fiscal exercise does not even purport to look at the overall economic impact of immigration (good or ill).  It sheds no light at all on that issue.

But even in what it does look at, there are some quite severe limitations:

  • recall that the report estimates that both NZ born and immigrants made a net positive fiscal contribution to the government’s accounts.  Perhaps, but recall that in 2013 (the year studied) the government was still running quite a large fiscal deficit.  In other words, even if the study is roughly accurately capturing the relative contributions of immigrants and the native-born, it isn’t remotely accurately capturing the absolute contribution.
  • The BERL exercise does not appear to recognize at all that much of the demand for increased government capital spending now arises from the immigration programme itself (as it notes, between 2001 and 2013, the New Zealand born population aged 25 to 64 actually fell slightly while the foreign born population of that age increased by 222000 people).  Over those 12 years, 80 per cent of the total population growth has been among the foreign-born.   Assign much of the (above-depreciation) government capex to the immigration programme and suddenly even the fiscal numbers will look quite different.
  • These are snapshot effects rather than inter-generational ones.  It is hardly surprising that an immigration programme that brings in relatively young people involves less government operating spending (per capita) than for natives –  people that age are typically young and fit –  but if we want to think about even the fiscal impact of the immigration programme as a whole it would be important to look at the impact not just of the immigrants in the couple of decades post-arrival, but (for example) at the impact as those people age, and the impact of their own children (many of whom will be New Zealand citizens, but still a consequence of the immigration programme).
  • perhaps most importantly, any sort of exercise like this is only meaningful if it deals with very small changes (when one can keep the rest of the economy held constant).  By contrast, the potential for a large scale immigration programme to affect real interest rates, the real exchange rate, and the underlying structure of the economy, means these fiscal exercises offer no insight at all on the overall impact of immigration even on the fiscal accounts, let alone the wider economy.

I’ve never made much of the fiscal issues around immigration.  By international standards our residence programme , if large, isn’t bad  –  if it doesn’t attract many very skilled people, at least it does successfully focus on getting people quickly into the labour market.  But precisely because in the end we are largely bringing lots of people quite like us –  who can readily get jobs –  it is very unlikely that in the long-run there will be much net difference in the fiscal effects between the contributions of those whose ancestors have been here for generations and more recent arrivals.

But to revert to Latta’s –  and the Minister’s –  overblown claims, not even BERL would argue that their report sheds any light on whether New Zealanders are gaining economically from our large scale non-citizen immigration programme, that has now been in place (albeit with constant tweaks) for 25 years.  Perhaps there are such gains, but to demonstrate them one would surely need to grapple with such disconcerting statistics as:

  • New Zealand having had among the lowest (lower quartile) rates of productivity growth among OECD countries for the last 25 years (and perhaps the only OECD country with materially higher immigration – Israel –  is one of the few countries to have had even less productivity growth than New Zealand),
  • the failure of exports as a share of GDP to increase for 30 years

exports small countries

  • the failure of per capita tradables sector real GDP to have increased at all for the last 15 years (recall, this isn’t just a share of GDP – there has simply been no real per capita growth in our outward-oriented sectors in that time).
  • the fact that after all these years, our exports remain very heavily natural-resource based, sectors that would seem unlikely to have much need of a rapidly growing population.
  • the continuing relative decline of Auckland’s GDP per capita, despite the concentration of the immigrant population in Auckland.

Perhaps I shouldn’t really expect words like “productivity” to appear in prime-time mainstream TV, even when taxpayer-funded, but it was as if Latta had never heard of the concept, and those he interviewed just didn’t care.  There was an (immigration) programme to defend after all.  Who cares if New Zealand has been in gradual economic decline for 60 years or more? The elites apparently simply know that the economic gains of an extraordinarily large immigration programme are a ‘no-brainer’.

Actually, I suspect a few of them will have cringed, and squirmed rather uncomfortably, when they heard Latta make that claim.  But the defenders of the programme –  Ministers, officials, and academics –  really need to start coming up with something much persuasive if we are really to be confident (and few things are ever certain) that New Zealanders are benefiting from this large scale intervention.

28 thoughts on “Hard Stuff or MBIE puff piece?

  1. Well, so much of this ‘hard stuff’ is so completely outside Nigel Latta’s expertise – and even more so given he’s not a qualified journalist/investigative reporter either. It was an exercise in manufactured consent. So inaccurate on so many fronts that it should have been broadcast as a TV commercial. Then recourse associated with the taxpayer contribution via NZOA could have been available via the advertising standards authority.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Nigel Latta – Hard Stuff on Immigration

    At the 6 minute mark Latta interviews Nigel Bickle of Immigration NZ who states the methods used to measure the benefits of immigration are economic (financial) only, and do not take into account social and infrastructure and health and education service costs AT ALL

    Amazing NZ must be different. Nigel Latta tells us so
    Wonder what research Latta used or conducted

    The Australian Productivity Commission enquiry into immigration found that in the early years migrants are a drag on the economy and then as they become accretive to GDP, the migrants capture all the dividend themselves

    In other words the locals do not share in the dividend
    But, heck, NZ must be different. Nigel Latta tells us so

    Liked by 1 person

    • Iconoclast, how can the locals not share in the dividend, your interpretation is completely wrong. You clearly forget that migrants are only one generation because the next generation are all Australian born ie the children of migrants are Australian born and surely must benefit from their migrant parents hard work and sacrifices. It is the same with NZ migrants whose children are NZ born.

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  3. I’ve had a bit of a look at the BERL report. You’re right that other aspects haven’t been covered by the analysis. But I thought it was appropriate to look at the report itself to see what useful things it has to say. I think I found a few.

    -Immigrants are about 60%/650k of approx working age (easiest to use the age ranges they provide, 25-65). NZ born about 50%/1.5m. No surprise to me that there are less immigrant children/retired.
    -Government gross income from immigrants is 11.7b from 1.1m, or 650k workers or $18k/worker. For NZ born it is 30.2 from 3.1m, or 1.5m workers, or $20k/worker. So NZ born workers earn/spend more.
    -Education and superannuation expenses should be excluded, or at least adjusted, as they’re specific to certain ages.
    -I would argue similar for Work and Income benefits which immigrants are presumably somewhat restricted from ie. a work visa would require a job.
    -Despite immigrants mainly being outside what I would consider the peak ages for using health services (young and old), their use/cost of health services is marginally higher per capita.

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    • Lindley, the average age of a new migrant is much lower than the average NZ born. Many of them have just completed University and into their first jobs or they are brought in with overseas experience which NZ employers may disregard as work experience and pay them a new persons wage instead of an experienced persons wage. It is useless to compare average wages of groups that do not have the same ages nor the same years of work experience.

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  4. I watched that show as well and was flabbergasted by the superficial nature of the analysis – is there a formal channel through which a complaint can be made?

    Surely you can’t pass a show off as informative/balanced/investigative and then be anything but?

    I have noticed in recent times that there does seem to be a much more co-ordinated effort to tell us hoi-polloi that there is nothing to worry about when it comes to this topic. Makes me wonder if NZ’s elites have their own Whatsapp group or something to manage PR for this kind of thing…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I gather at least one person has complained about lack of balance to the Broadcasting Standards Authority. Personally, I have very low expectations of mainstream TV and, in fairness, various lower-profile TVNZ programmes have given my arguments on the other side a reasonable amount of coverage There is an ongoing debate, and hopefully over time people will weigh and assess the quality of the argumentation all involved are putting up, not just run with a particularly poor sample of elite opinion (as in the Latta programme).

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    • Rascally R, there is everything to worry about because we face a future of an aging population. If we do not replenish our ranks with younger migrant people. You will face a uncertain future drooling on floors with no one to care for you. The rank and file in rest homes are made up of mainly young Filipino migrant workers cleaning up old people messes. Don’t try and ask my young daughters who are kiwi born to help out. They certainly would not. They are too busy planning their next holiday overseas.

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  5. Low and behold just as I read this I receive an invite from IPANZ on this very topic presented by none other than Spoonley! (I work at one of the big 4 banks) It very much looks like MBIE is rolling out Spoonley as their PR proxy.

    See invite below –

    IPANZ Auckland invites you to register for this seminar:
    A Demographic Dividend – or Disruption? The Challenges of Population Growth and Stagnation
    Hear Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley, of Massey University, discuss whether the current economic climate in New Zealand is hiding a population ‘bomb’; and how to moderate the very different growth rates of different parts of the country.

    Abstract
    As New Zealand has emerged from the Global Financial Crisis, the labour market is buoyant, population growth is high and both permanent and temporary migration is at an historic high. But do these conditions represent a temporary state – and are they hiding a population ‘bomb’ (to use the extravagant language of the 1970s)?

    Certainly, a new New Zealand is emerging with very different demographic – and economic – trajectories for New Zealand’s regions and for the country as a whole. Is immigration the answer? Are we prepared to discuss much less manage ‘smart decline’? Do we moderate the very different growth rates of different parts of the country?

    Event Details
    Date: Monday, 3 October 2016
    Time: 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM
    Location: Russell McVeagh, L30, Vero Centre, 48 Shortland Street, Auckland

    Liked by 1 person

    • Looking back at on old post about a Q&A discussion, involving Spoonley, on immigration policy
      https://croakingcassandra.com/2015/08/24/qa-on-immigration/
      I found this quote from his own 2012 book

      as Spoonley noted in his 2012 book “understanding exactly how immigrants contribute to economic outcomes is still somewhat fraught in the New Zealand context”.

      In view of his enthusiasm for “parent visas” it is worth noting that the Aus Productivity Commission has a new report out highlighting the very large fiscal cost of these visas. It is unlikely to be much different here and, per capita, we issue more such visas than they do

      Liked by 1 person

      • Unfortunately the various governments filter out comprehensive research and reports from both the Productivity Commission and the Treasury if it is perceived to be in conflict with any political agenda. I often wonder why there is the expense of Productivity Commission reports when the majority seem destined to collect dust.

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  6. Fair comment about the Latta show. The invited participants were hardly representative of a complex topic. Interestingly world wide there has been hardly any reputable studies of the impact of immigration. America the heart of economic research in social impacts has had one study that is very dated that indicated a positive effect even if very small. Remembering they had the sustained large scale Mexican migration. Few people will doubt the impact.

    The real issue is that you have to nett the economic activity of immigration both direct (skills applied for example and or indirect effects like linkages important in tourism visitor numbers) on the positive side and social dislocation both direct and indirect ( joblessness, inability to communicate, health costs, crime, ghettos, money laundering) on the costs side. Not an easy task due to the variables involved.

    Attempts to capture the elements have seen policy initiatives like the population conference, a longitudinal survey and many university funded research programmes. The complexity of the topic tends exhaust best endeavours.

    The politics of immigration is where it has always been in the absence of imperical evidence. There is enough anecdotal evidence to support any argument.

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  7. The entire subject of immigration is rather complex. It involves a number of categories.

    1. Real migrants which only number a tiny 15k gross arrivals a year. That number has not changed much over the last 10 to 15 years.
    2. International students that currently number 120,000 throughout NZ of which around 90,000 reside in Auckland.
    3. Foreign workers for the Christchurch rebuild and now foreign workers for Auckland booming construction industry that number around 40,000 and growing.
    4. Returning kiwis that are away for more than 12 months are also called migrants and this year is around 35,000. Inevitably they end up in the Auckland building industry as they are mainly jobless from the shutdown of mining in Australia.
    5. We also have long stay tourists around 5,000 a year that also add to the migrant numbers.

    Your persistent argument that the government should just drop the migrant target from 50,000 to around 15,000. Common sense would tell me that it is a rather silly to pitch a low target of 15,000 because that 50,000 target is made up of a number of unavoidable needs based categories as well.

    1. Foreign Spouses of Kiwis
    2. Defacto relationships of kiwis
    3. Humanitarian consideration for parents of foreign spouses if they live by themselves overseas.

    The reality is the needs of kiwis comes before skilled migrants. If we juggle that target too low we will likely end up with 100% unskilled migrants.

    The argument that migrants take up housing has a racist bias because it completely ignores the impact of the 120,000 international students and it also ignores the 3.3 million tourists every 12 months and very soon that number will be 4 million every 12 months that are overflowing into residential property due to the lack of hotel and motel building.

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    • I agree. I can remember a particular politician trying to argue for 25000 net migration without understanding what it meant. Most people don’t understand the flow of people and the fact we have uncontrolled numbers like returning kiwis and Australian citizens. A low net number would see kiwis unable to return with their families. Also how can you have a policy that sets criteria, takes months and sometimes years to process applications and then somehow hit a target that can only be determined at the end of the year when you sum the number of people on such applications. The uncertainty will discourage the most talented and leave us with whoever is left.

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  8. But, to be clear, my recommendation is a target (not quota – “planning range” is I think the MBIE-speak) for non-citizen residence approvals of 10000 to 15000 per annum. That, per capita, is about the same rate at which the US grants green cards – their equivalent to our residence approval.

    Immigration policy is never – at least in modern times – about controlling the inflow or outflow of NZers, and the net flow of Australians is pretty small and not very variable.

    I don’t favour having parent visas at all – except perhaps in a handful of extreme humanitarian cases.

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    • Things may have changed in the US but in my experience what they approve has no bearing on who arrives and stays. In NZ our borders are relatively well controlled and there is minimal leakage. America is porous. Before 9/11 America controlled the border with cards and then gave the impression they could match the card on departure. Folk law has it there were hangers of cards in the Nevada desert. Australia is best at knowing who it has.

      The other big variable of uncontrolled inflow are people holding valid returning visas. There are literally tens of thousands of people who are not citizens but have rights to residency who don’t live in NZ.

      Your ideal target of 10 to 15000 is unworkable low. This is a number we had in the early 90’s and it caused all,sorts of policy problems. You may not like parent visa’s but for social cohesion reasons family is important. The centre of gravity policy has worked well in the past and shouldn’t be dumped unless there is more compelling reasons than you don’t like it.

      Social cohesion should be a first principle discussion we have when we discuss immigration. The mayoral race in Auckland should traverse the issues at a micro level as it relates to the city. Meaningful discussion should lead to policy ideas within the council. This is not only a topic for central govt. It should not be a topic which polarises people.

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  9. On the US, actually the best estimates are that there has been a net outflow of illegals over the last decade (including the recession and weak employment).

    I don’t agree the target is unworkable. It was a bit higher than the net flow of non-citizens in the 1980s which caused no very obvious problems (what problems did you have in mind in the early 90s?). I don’t agree that the centre of gravity policy worked well – indeed, it was amended once it was realized that for China, with a one child policy, it near-automatically meant parents could come too. The most compelling reason for canning it is that immigrants that age typically add nothing to NZers’ welfare (the basis for an immigration policy, other than perhaps refugees) and typically involve a quite large net fiscal cost. If there are family issues in caring for ageing parents, the people who have immigrated to NZ can always go home – as some NZers who leave come back to look after their ageing parents.

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    • It is hardly a compassionate Christian view to suggest that immigrants granted permanent residence in NZ should have to return to their home country to care for elderly parents etc. Once they and their kids have settled here, it is perfectly reasonable that their parents should be able to settle here in order to keep the family intact. A requirement that they be self-supporting is probably reasonable. One would think that a self-professed Christian would be more compassionate in such matters. Just confirms my view that the only thing wrong with Christianity are the Christians! And on the broader issue of a fixed target of non-citizen permanent immigration, this is a nonsense policy as it disregards the stage of economic cycle and skills gaps. Any sensible target should be based on skills gaps and be cyclically linked.

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      • You are drawing a rather long bow by accusing Michael of not showing compassion. I read that he was merely stating that in the same way that many NZers return to NZ to care for aging parents it is not unreasonable to expect that others consider doing likewise for their aging parents also. I agree that it may be reasonable to expect them to be self-supporting, however, I could see that bringing with it a number of problems, such as, if their ability to self-support after several years then what?

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      • Geof

        I’ll pass over the various slurs, and simply note that surely in choosing to leave one’s own country, one of the considerations anyone faces is the situation of ageing parents. I’m not sure I could do it myself – I find it difficult enough being a few hundred miles away – but having moved to another country, I’m not sure why it should create any presumptive right for the family reunification to occur here, at our expense (and the Aus Productivity Commission only yesterday highlighted the high cost of this policy in an Australian context) rather than back home.

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    • As soon as NZ opted a non racial policy the game changed. The potential for applicants boomed but the effect was not immediately evident. Now we have hundreds of thousand foreign born residents who have spouse applicants, they want parents to live nearby etc.

      So, allocate 5000 places for returning NZers with their families, be very restrictive and allocate 2000 places for family emergency reunification, allocate 1200 places for Pacific aid/quota, allocate 1000 for humanitarian reasons, and whatever is left for skill shortages.

      Your dismissive attitude to the plight of families would last about 5 minutes under the barrage of so called unfairness, etc etc. Employers would have stories of ending production because key people were being held at the border. Apples would rot on the ground etc.

      Finally, immigration is the cornerstone of the new world. Economically most new world economies are doing better than the old world economies. You have to wonder why that is.

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      • There is lots there I could respond to, but – key point – countries don’t need immigration on any scale for “skill shortages”. The labour market can, and does in many countries, take care of so-called shortages. In Japan, for example, there has been a more aggressive adoption of technological solutions in various sectors.

        And yes, the New World is founded on immigration, over several hundred years. But I’d strongly disagree with your characterization of New World economic performance relative to the old: there is not a single Latin American country that has GDP per capita above that of any of the Western European countries, and New Zealand is less well off than most of the European countries. Canada, the US and Australia have higher incomes than many European countries, but don’t stand out – and over the last 60 years or so Canada and NZ have been among the poorest performing OECD countries. One could add Israel to the mix – higher immigration than any of those countries, and a similarly poor economic performance to underperforming NZ.

        Now I am not making a general proposition that immigration is necessarily bad for residents of the recipient country. It depends, on a bunch of factors. But there is little sign that, at least since WW2, it has been of much economic benefit to NZers. And that shouldn’t really be surprising in such an isolated location that still shows little ability to economically produce/sell much stuff that isn’t natural resource based. I’ve no problem at all with natural resource enhanced prosperity, but no more natural resources are being made.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael, I think yours is a minority view of Japan.

        “Japan’s population has fallen by nearly 1 million in the past five years, in the first decline since the census began in 1920. This is bad news for the country’s shrinking economy, which is unable to depend on an expanding labour force to drive growth.”

        “An ageing population compounds the difficulties of the world’s most indebted economy because getting growth from an ageing, shrinking society is hard to do.

        The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Ageing predicts that over the next four decades the rapid ageing of populations will be one of the biggest issues affecting the world, having a significant impact on areas such as social welfare, public health and economic prosperity.”

        https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/02/japans-population-is-shrinking-what-does-it-mean-for-the-economy/

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  10. I don’t think so. Of course, population growth no longer drives GDP growth, but so what? It is per capita growth – or better still – productivity growth that matters. On that score, Japan has done better than us in recent decades (ie even since the post 89 crash), and actually has a lower unemployment rate too. I’m not suggesting they are some nirvana – look at the public debt – but it looks perfectly acceptable.

    Yes, ageing populations are a challenge – but mostly when governments won’t adjust parameter settings for things like NZS. As I recall, you are a fan of the PM’s, and he is perhaps the worse offender locally on that score. Fortunately, a counterbalance is that our system doesn’t penalize old people staying in the workforce after 65 and many clearly find it worthwhile to do so (more so than in many other countries).

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    • I am a fan of the PM because he has delivered a NZ economy that will hit 4% GDP growth in the face of a 60% decline in dairy milk prices. If we go back to 2007 to 2010 we did have negative immigration and we also had a lousy recession with individuals and families wrecked by job losses. Mortgagee sales was at a all time high. Given a choice between the now and then better now then back to 2007 and 2010.

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  11. Latta appeared on TVNZ Breakfast show. Hillary Barry’s first show after resigning from Paul Henry show on TV 3. He remarked that his nightmare that keeps him awake at nights is the racist attitude of Donald Trump against migrants, a likely president of the USA.

    It sounds like he has a personal passion against racism which has likely come through in the production of this program on immigration. It is clearly not a MBIE puff piece but a personal opinion against racism.

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    • An honest debate should allow country of origin to be discussed. It’s unfortunate but true validation who a person is, is almost impossible in some countries. MPs are not willing or capable of understanding this point. They blithely delude themselves that treating the applicants the same is both just and fair.

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