A world-leading debate on immigration?

Sometimes it can be hard to keep up with the flow of pro-immigration articles in the Herald.  At the moment of course, even they tend to be written with a defensive, more than celebratory, stance.

On Monday, the academic sociologist, Paul Spoonley –  who leads CaDDANZ the MBIE-funded academic immigration advocacy and research programme –  was out with a piece headed Xenophobia not welcome in migrant debate.     Hard to disagree with that.  Of course, not all fears are irrational, and political debate rarely occurs at the rarefied level of the fabled academic seminar room, but “deep-rooted fear towards foreigners” (the OED definition) doesn’t seem a particularly good basis for New Zealand’s immigration debate.  But what was a bit puzzling when I read the article, and then re-read it, was that Professor Spoonley offered no evidence that “xenophobia” was what was at work here.  And that’s good.  Presumably if there was such evidence he’d have mentioned it.

And despite generally being a champion of New Zealand’s non-citizen immigration policy, Spoonley himself has come to the conclusion that current immigration levels are “unsustainable” and some changes are needed.  Presumably he didn’t reach that conclusion based on “xenophobia”?

As it happens, most of the proposals he puts forward are pretty mild, or not even policies at all.

There is a case for revising aspects of the recruitment and approval of immigrants. The low value courses and qualifications offered by some educational providers puts New Zealand’s reputation at risk.

One could add that it is, in effect, an industry granted big export subsidies.   We’d sell more of any specific good or service, if doing so came attached with work rights or residence points.     Curiously, export education isn’t even that successful a subsidised industry.  The total number of people granted student visas in 2015/16 was only around 4 per cent higher than at the previous peak in 2002/03.

A more proactive regional focus. Canada and Australia allow regions to set their own targets and to recruit the skilled immigrants needed locally – without undermining local workers or wages. Up to a third of the points required for approval for permanent residence can be granted by regions.

This is even more daft, and dangerous, than the existing (quality-diluting) policy of giving additional points to people with jobs outside Auckland.  And since most local councils can’t even do well stuff they are already responsible for –  not making urban land unaffordable – I’m not sure I’d want to trust them with immigration policy.

Social cohesion. Positive settlement outcomes for both immigrants and host communities would benefit from a greater investment in helping transition immigrants to life in New Zealand – more generous provisions for English language acquisition, for example, would help.

Of course, we could spend even more taxpayers’ money, or we could simply require that people settling here –  refugees aside –  actually speak pretty good English.  These days, most really highly-skilled people –  the ones we might actually benefit from –  do.

And his final proposal

Let’s have a debate about population – its growth and distribution – as a context for decisions about immigration. And let’s not see immigration as a single causal factor or as a simple solution.

This is rhetoric rather than policy, but by all means have the debate.  I’m pretty wary of “population policy” myself, but some serious study of whether policy-driven rapid population growth over most of the period since World War Two has helped lift the material living standards of New Zealanders, or productivity in the New Zealand economy, would be a worthwhile subject for academic researchers.

In the end, Spoonley is mostly playing distraction.  He flings around the charge of “xenophobia,” without any substantiation, and then his own suggestions would make little useful difference in responding to the economic challenges, except by some tightening of rules around student visas (something the government has not yet addressed at all).

But the column that really grabbed my attention was one from the Herald business editor Liam Dann, headed Let’s lead the world on immigration debate.  A worthy aspiration no doubt.  But not, unfortunately, one the column contributed to. Instead, it is riddled with questionable claims and false comparisons, and at one point represents another example –  this time not from a government minister but from an acolyte –  of just making things up.

There is the weird opening.

It looks like immigration is going to be a big election issue.

That’s a shame.

He doesn’t like the way the debate has occurred in some other countries, so seems to think we should take some sort of self-denying ordinance, and not debate one of the larger government economic and social policy interventions there is.   Non-citizen immigration is, after all, far bigger here than in the UK, the US, or France.  Has been for a long time.

There have been a series of record highs for about a year. The numbers exceed even the great colonial influx into New Zealand in the 19th century.

On a per capita basis they exceed what the UK was experiencing pre-Brexit.

This is all rather misleading.   Considered per capita, the net inflow over the last year (New Zealander and non-citizens) hasn’t even exceeded levels seen 15 years ago, let alone at the peaks in the 19th century.  And, by contrast, every single year the number of non-citizens we let in far exceeds (per capita) the inflows to the UK.  So the analytical and policy issues shouldn’t be about this year’s PLT flow, but about the numbers (and terms on which) we allow non-citizens to settle and/or work here.

According to Dann

So we are vulnerable to populist political hijack.

Any world-leading debate on these topics would recognise that the essentials of our immigration policy haven’t changed much for 20 years at least.  Broadly speaking, we moved back to being a high (non-citizen) immigration country in the early 1990s.

I’m not even sure what “populist political hijack” really means, other “than some politician I really don’t like, responding to an issue of real public concern”.   Sounds like democracy to me, messy as it often is.

Funnily enough, Dann also thinks there are some real issues that need addressing.

Immigration policy of the past decade is not sustainable. Our infrastructure is under pressure and we are woefully behind in building to catch up. That’s not the fault of immigrants, of course. It is the fault of politicians and voters.

Not sure how this is all the fault of voters.   We were never asked if we wanted to have record rates of population growth, even though those in office knew that (say) the urban land markets were dysfunctional etc, so that importing lots of new people was only likely to exacerbate house price problems.

And, of course, the issues aren’t just about house prices or road congestion.  There is the small matter of the continuing poor productivity growth in New Zealand (none in the last five years), the shrinking (as a share of GDP) export sector, or the realities of living in a country at the ends of the earth where, for 40 years (with cyclical ups and downs) the natives have been leaving, pursuing better opportunities abroad.   Oh, and the highly misleading descriptions of the immigration programme –  we’ve repeatedly been told it was a skills-focused programme, helping lift productivity etc, and now MBIE’s own numbers show than more than more than half those applying for residence don’t have skills that command even $49000 per annum in the New Zealand labour market.

Dann continues

In other words, it’s our fault. We have been trying to have our cake and eat it too.

No, it isn’t “our” fault.  Voters didn’t ask for this.  Political leaders –  from both sides, but National is now in office –  made it happen.  And there is no “cake” for New Zealanders as a whole, only some nasty sectoral redistributions, and an overall economic performance that continues to underwhelm.   But apparently

One thing lost in the immigration debate at the moment is how successful the policies have been for New Zealand.

Really?

Economically, we have outshone our international peers. We have skipped the economic pain that most of the world felt after the global financial crisis.

That’s not all down to immigration but it has played a big part.

This is just making stuff up.  As I showed yesterday, we’ve done no better than the United States, which was the epicentre of the crisis –  and that despite having about three times the rate of legal immigration the US has (and other bonuses like a record average terms of trade).   We had a nasty recession, that took a long time to recover from –  and actually immigration policy in the “bust” period wasn’t materially different than it had been in the earlier “boom”.   We’ve underperformed Australia too.

real gdp phw dec 16 release

Sure, there are places that are worse still –  much of the euro area most notably –  but there is just nothing to back this claim that we have “outshone our peers”,  let alone that immigration policy has enabled us thus to shine.  Saying it often enough won’t make it true.   In fact, sometimes reality breaks through and even Dann seems embarrassed about channelling this stuff.

When you crunch the numbers on per capita GDP growth it has been far less flash.

Indeed. And it is things like per capita income growth and productivity growth that count.   Even on the labour market side of things, the SNZ release this morning shows that most of the OECD countries that control their own monetary policy have lower unemployment rates than we do.

Culturally, too, New Zealand has grabbed global attention in a way unimaginable a generation ago.

This country used to be largely unknown outside the Commonwealth, where we were acknowledged as a backward British colony that was good at sport and had lots of sheep.

Since we still hold the record low test cricket score, racked up in the bad old days when we had some of the very highest material living standards in the world, I’m not even sure about that “good at sport”.

But, frankly, what is he talking about?

100 years ago, before the First World War, people flocked here – and not just from the Commonwealth – to study New Zealand’s economic and social reforms.  And they often marvelled at what had been created, so quickly, so far from the centres of the world ( including (but not limited to) the best material living standards in the world).

Actually, 30 years ago, before the great immigration resumed, people abroad were fascinated by New Zealand’s economic reforms.  It was a darker story by then, trying to pull back from decades of decline, but the interest was real nonetheless.

Does anyone remember Dame Edna’s tragic Kiwi bridesmaid Madge Allsop? She summed up our image pretty well.

Personally, I don’t remember this character, but I’m sure Dann isn’t trying to suggest that Australians have stopped making fun of New Zealanders (accent and all), or vice versa.

So what is he talking about?  Does he know?   Allegedly….

Against all odds, New Zealand became cool.

Where is the evidence?  What does “cool” mean in this context?  And what does it do, even if it is true, for the living standards of ordinary New Zealanders?  Dann doesn’t tell us.  And yet somehow

Our place in the world has changed and that warrants debate about the immigration policy settings we have in place.

Actually, if one takes any sort of longer view of modern New Zealand history, our place in the world is in decline.  That is more or less inevitable.  We were once one of the handful of (very successful) offshoots of the most powerful empire in the world.   100 years ago there weren’t many independent countries, and few as successful as we were.  Since then,  many more countries have emerged, and quite a few have got a lot richer.   The UK’s global position has declined, and even the US is no longer what it was (in say the decades from 1940).  We are neither powerful nor important –  no longer with automatic access to counsels of the great and powerful we once had –  and, worse, we aren’t even that successful economically any more.  That has real implications for our own people, especially the poorer of them.

So, I really have no idea what Dann is on about.  Perhaps he is thinking of some references in once-hip publications like Lonely Planet guides?  But to what end?  As I ‘ve shown previously, our exports of services –  the lure of tourism, export education etc –  are lower now as a share of GDP than it was 15 years ago, in an age when international trade in services globally has become ever more important.

Leaving aside the detached-from-reality rhetoric, Dann tries to come back to specifics

The Government has belatedly started to recognised that with policy tweaks that have not yet had time to show results.

We could go further and look at more fundamental changes – such as how we set the criteria for residency.

But it would be a terrible thing for the debate to play out here the way it has in other parts of the world.

Quite what does that mean?  You might approve or disapprove of the Brexit result (I approve), but the process was an open one, there were no riots on the streets, and views differ on quite how large a role immigration policy played anyway.

I reckon Donald Trump is fundamentally ill-equipped to be US President.  Then again, the choice was a poor one.  I couldn’t have voted for him or his principal opponent.  And is a physical wall a good solution?  Quite probably not.   But it was an open and democratic election, and there were plenty of other issues at play in the election.  And –  unlike us –  the US really does have a large stock of illegal migrants in the country.  

Alternatively, and optimistically, New Zealand is in a position to lead the world on the immigration debate. We could do this right.

But simply flinging around, as slurs, references to Brexit or Trump isn’t really a great start to the sort of debate Dann claims to want to have in New Zealand.  After all, if immigration is an issue in those countries, there are good reasons why it could be a much bigger issue here (we simply take more people, per capita).

We could pay close attention to the data, we could look at economic impact studies and we could have a frank and open discussion about the kind of country we want to build.

That would certainly be a novel (but welcome) approach.  Perhaps Dann could point us to the New Zealand specific studies illustrating how New Zealanders, and New Zealand productivity levels, have been raised by decades of large scale immigration, much of it simply not that skilled?  Other champions of immigration policy haven’t been able to.    There is plenty of theory, but not much grounded analysis that takes specific and detailed account of the circumstances of New Zealand.

Dann doesn’t like the idea of Labour promising to do something to markedly cut the non-citizen immigration flow.

It is difficult for Labour because the politics are polarising. Labour wants power, it sees a rich vein of discontent but in the current topsy-turvy political environment, it has to make careful choices.

Retaining a traditional, optimistic liberal view leans towards free and open borders. That now puts them on the side of the neo-liberal globalists – not a fashionable place for the centre-left these days.

But campaigning to radically slash immigrant numbers by unspecified amounts puts them in the camp of angry nationalists like Winston Peters, Donald Trump and Nigel Farage.

It would certainly be good to see some specifics from Labour –  it is after all only four and half months until the election.  But it is not as if Labour has always been some sort of “open borders” party.  It was the Labour icon, Norman Kirk, who in the 1970s put in place the biggest post-war adjustment to immigration policy, depriving people from the United Kingdom (then far and away the main source country) of their automatic right to move here.

For the last few decades, Labour and National have had much the same immigration policy –  believers, apparently, in the rhetoric of lifting productivity through immigration, and in the skill shortages, that never seem to ease no matter how many decades we wait.

Suggesting that Labour would cut immigration by tens of thousands certainly needs something concrete behind it –  and soon –  but I’m afraid that comparisons between Andrew Little (or Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson, David Parker and Phil Twyford) and Donald Trump simply aren’t worthy of a serious journalist, and especially not one making the high-minded call for a world-leading immigration debate.

Dann starts to come to the end of his column

We can’t let the politics become emotive. This is fundamentally about economics. It should be boring.

Not sure I entirely agree.  Politics is about conflicting world views and values.  There are, and inevitably will be, emotional dimensions about that.  Personally, I’m angry at the decades of failure by a succession of political leaders to really grapple with New Zealand’s economic underperformance.   And pretty upset about the apparent (practical) indifference to the housing disaster, all politically wrought.    But Dann asks

Can we quantify how much value immigrants add to the economy?

How does the added value compare with the economic cost of new infrastructure that we need to cope with increased population?

It isn’t really a fiscal question, but the honest answer to his first question is that “no, no one really has”.  It has been a programme based on faith and theory, and often the short-term self-interest of employers (especially those in the non-tradables sector).    The government does not know if large-scale immigration has added to New Zealand’s productivity over time.      For such a large experiment, that is an extraordinary failure.

Distributional issues matter.

The harder question is trying to understand how the value and costs are distributed.

Some established citizens will be bigger beneficiaries than others. There are different geographic impacts.

Given we’ve had an immigration policy that favours wealthy immigrants it is self-fulfilling that our policies have increased wealth in this country.

But they may also have exacerbated inequality

Again, he has lost me.  Most of our immigrants aren’t very skilled or wealthy at all –  most can’t even earn $49000 a year, the starting salary for a primary teacher with a basic degree.  So there is no automatic presumption that the country is wealthier as a result (again, per capita, the only measure that really counts).  And it shouldn’t really be news to the business editor of our largest-circulation paper that inequality hasn’t materially changed in New Zealand in the last couple of decades (at least if the distorted housing market is excluded).   The New Zealand Initiative, rightly, point it out repeatedly.

I’m all for a good quality debate about New Zealand’s immigration policy.  One is certainly well overdue.  But when Dann’s call for such a debate is so riddled with errors, misconceptions, and slurs, it is hardly a good start.      In the end, it is hard to avoid a conclusion that what Dann really wants is just a continuation of the status quo, with a few more houses and roads built, and the column is mostly an attempt to avoid the real debates.   It certainly isn’t the start of a world-leading debate, especially not one that engages seriously with the decades of serious economic performance, or with the revealed choices of New Zealanders –  for 40 years now –  to leave.

31 thoughts on “A world-leading debate on immigration?

  1. Taking on Liam Dann’s arguments is like shooting fish in a barrel… it’s hard to know which of his specious points to demolish first. And it’s extraordinary (and depressing) that our biggest-circulation newspaper has run a piece like his. It’s evident that the Herald could never ask readers to pay for this sort of half-baked opinion. If a paywall is the answer to the Herald’s financial woes, they’d have to hire writers who are a lot better than they have currently.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Michael sure did a great job of shooting the lot of them. Agree, would never pay for any of their content – and the better of their journalists and commentators (the few) suffer with the reputation the many are are giving the publication.

      I read it now mainly because I have a personal interest in the Chomsky concept of manufactured consent.

      The flag referendum being one example from this present government that I’ve put together as a case study for my students.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I sent this letter to the Herald on Monday and they have not published it yet (that is no complaint).

    Well after years of being immigration’s academic cheer-leader Prof Spoonley now starts writing about policy settings, targets and social cohesion. He still mistakenly believes immigration has a economic benefit despite 30 years of declining productivity in NZ. Declining productivity means an average Kiwi works harder and longer for less pay than those in other countries; the only boost immigration gives is to those who are already wealthy.
    One answer to the immigration debate is under Prof Spoonley’s nose; he is the lead researcher in ‘Capturing Diversity Dividend of Aotearoa’ so he should ask what extra diversity dividend does NZ get from another Pom, another Chinese, another Filipino, another Indian, another Fijian? Obviously none. So NZ should concentrate on the countries that send few immigrants to our shores or to the truly exceptional (say Phd or salary over $200,000) from any country.
    NZ has always been the country for a ‘fair go’ and it is the immigration rorts and worker exploitation that all Kiwis and especially honest immigrants hate.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Surely it is possible to construct an argument about the social benefits of immigration. I certainly enjoy meeting people from foreign places. On the other hand some prefer what they know. That is just a matter of taste. To have a social benefit requires a language in common.

    But if you construct such an argument then there is a point that more of an ethnicity gives no benefit and in so far as micro-ghettos are created actually negates the diversity benefit.

    The obvious question is to ask whether more social benefit is achieved by immigration or extended OEs? Maybe just offering every school leaver a round the world ticket air ticket would be cheaper.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Another first class column Michael. The consequences of importing thousands of low-skilled people for the short term benefit of a few into an economy where productivity is in long-term decline are truly worrying. Another instance of privatising the profits and socialising the costs such as the burden on housing, health services and infrastructure. This has to be a major election issue.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. That article is pretty much par for the course for the Herald. Most of the columnists have a certain ideological position and basically churn out words to support their viewpoint without much in the way of facts or in depth analysis. Once the reader knows the topic and who is writing, they can pretty much determine the conclusion without reading further. It is amazing once National mentioned possible modest restrictions on immigration how quickly the Herald started pumping out pro-immigration articles. It seems that every day there is a profile of some ethnic restaurant or other warning about the up coming apocalypse if there are any changes to current immigration policy. We could all be paying double for our curry or pad thai !! Of course nobody mentions that chef has been on the skills shortage list for a long time and a huge number have already been granted permanent residency. What are all those chefs doing now ? Also for some reason local workers are completely unable to be trained to cook ethnic cuisine ? Nobody would be so stupid and blatantly racist to suggest for example that an Indian person could never learn to cook Italian food, but somehow it is fine to suggest that only Indians can cook Indian food for example. One other factor is that Auckland has so many ethnic groups that even if you wanted someone for your restaurant who already spoke the same language and was familiar with the cuisine, there are no doubt plenty of candidates already here that are citizens or permanent residents. It is rare for the Herald to do any investigative journalism or attempt to analyse the bigger picture, they are just happy to run whatever story they get provided by industry lobby groups.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is called churn rate. Many young chefs stay for only 3 to 5 years before they leave for larger hotels in other countries taking up more senior positions with better promotional prospects and higher wages. We are in a cycle of continuosly replacing migrants that leave NZ for greener pastures. Thats why migrant wages seem low because we are continuosly replacing with a new batch of migrants.

      Like

      • Are there any figures to prove it? Personal experience is a total of one family from Turkey, moved in next door, had two children and then returned to Istanbul.

        Like

      • When I arrived in NZ 30 plus years ago in my mid 20s, I hung out with a group of 15 to 20 other migrants who arrived around a similar time who I got to know quite well. Of that group, I am the only one who has remained in NZ. I stayed because my salary had risen slowly but regularly from $30k to now $200k and financial opportunities presented itself. My mates struggled and have therefore left for much greener pastures. For many years I had wondered what i was doing in NZ and had to reconcile myself that the lifestyle was great and work ethics was easy and the beaches close at hand and property investment certainly has paid off in handsome rewards over the years.

        Liked by 1 person

    • So it now seems the skilled category is interpreted as Junior Chefs – not yet highly skilled – yet that has been the constant mantra – so it’s all lies

      I don’t have any data to back me up but can confidently say the increasing numbers of people living in cars and garages and caravans are not enjoying any of the benefits of these junior supplied “cheap eats”

      Liked by 2 people

      • Actually, you will have to pin that problem on tourists. They are overflowing in large numbers into residential homes and apartments. In the past you could bunk in with relatives or friends. These days, friends and relatives just rent their spare rooms out to travellers and now more significantly entire houses and apartments are going Air BnB.

        Air BnB launched last year. They now have 19,000 residential homes and apartments on their register.

        Like

      • Interesting. I have a friend that train bakery apprentices. Has done for years. Just catching up with him a few minutes ago and he tells me the number is down this year.
        Easier to import some that train them.
        All the major trades have this problem. No money nor emphasis for in house training anymore.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I suspect the majority are not actually chefs with the type of qualifications that we offer in that profession;

        https://www.careers.govt.nz/jobs-database/hospitality-tourism-and-recreation/hospitality/chef/

        Many I suspect end up in work that is more likened to cooks/kitchen hand.

        It would be good to get a take on what this organisation: http://www.nzchefs.org.nz/ thinks of the high number of “chefs” entering the country as a means to better understand that immigration category.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Michael,
    You might like these

    Population

    https://www.google.ae/publicdata/explore?
    ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=ny_gdp_pcap_cd&idim=country:NZL:AUS:USA&hl=en&dl=en#!ctype=l&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=h&met_y=sp_pop_totl&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=region&idim=country:NZL:ARE&ifdim=region&hl=en_US&dl=en&ind=false

    GDP per captia (constant $)
    https://www.google.ae/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=ny_gdp_pcap_cd&idim=country:NZL:AUS:USA&hl=en&dl=en#!ctype=l&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=h&met_y=ny_gdp_pcap_kd&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=region&idim=country:NZL:ARE&ifdim=region&hl=en_US&dl=en&ind=false

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks (unfortunately the first link doesn’t seem to show anything, other than some Arabic script). I take data for UAE (and similar countries) with something of a pinch of salt – in some of the historical series there are some nasty (apparent) discontinuities.

      At least in principle, some of those places could be examples of a point the NZ Initiative sometimes make: in principle, you can import lots of people, earning very little, and so long as they are very unlike your own people, no one need be worse off as a result (even though average GDP per capita would fall). My impression is that there is some of that at work in the Gulf. It is less true here, where immigration policy has been focused on bringing in people who are quite like us (moderately skilled), except with a different passport.

      Like

      • Hi Michael.
        Click on the blue bit then ‘grab’ the remaining black bit that follows on and tag it on to the end of the address in your browser.

        Like

  7. Wonderful analysis, Michael
    I do wonder where the politicians are to start a debate.
    Winston aside have all those from other parties been told to avoid the issues.
    Unfortunately he has too many “bottom lines” for immigration to be at the top.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. When there is an upsurge in the propaganda onslaught by eminent people you know they are doing someone’s bidding – the tap on the shoulder – calling in a few favours – but the word is out – the promoters of current immigration policy want some smoke billowing around

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I was disappointed that Dann’s article was closed to comments.

    To that end, though, Michael, may I suggest you open a twitter account if only to post a link to your each of your posts. That way many more can engage in the (usually) rational and evidence-based debate you bring to the table – I say “usually” because…originalism…etc 🙂

    Cheers.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’d have to agree with GGStuff, the churn factor is an drag on our economic performance.

    As statistics clearly prove there is a huge number of these same immigrants leaving the country. It is high time Michael provided us with some analysis on the out migration figures.

    If we cant retain these people how are we going to lift our productivity, its like a business you don’t expect new people to be productive for about 18 months or more. If you churn employees your productivity falls.

    As for the comments about rorts, rubbish, its a blackmarket!. Get Michael to explain the economics of a blackmarket (even though he has stooped to using a value judgement based on little or no evidence)

    Personally I appreciate these people, they cook my meals and clean my dishes when I go out to dinner, more so than any Kiwi!

    Demand creates supply, basic economics 101.

    Like

    • Throughout when I was in high school and uni in the States, I always worked in restaurants. Started out in the kitchen/dish room; moved up to coat check/front of house – and then on to waiter/waitress – and sometimes bar tendering. Good money (because of tips) which were equitably (but not equally) shared among the entire staff. In other words, the percentage of the tips taken were allocated on a greater proportional basis the higher up you got on the customer contact chain.

      Perhaps we need to bring in tipping.

      Like

    • Hi Ross, there has been a large number of people moving on from New Zealand (or churn as you put it) both by Kiwis and immigrants. If they are our best or most productive then that could be a factor in our weak to non existent productivity growth.
      I rather doubt that the statistics or their analysis will show the important issue: motivation for the move. From my discussions with folk that have or intend to emigrate (and basic common sense) the vast majority have sighted financial considerations and moved to countries with higher wages. We share (for now) a common labour market with Australia, a country with significantly higher wages than NZ. Our promiscuous immigration policy has resulted in large numbers of poorly qualified and desperate immigrants with a resulting strongly negative influence on wages. Folk choose to move to where the rewards are not being constantly undermined. In addition (and in some ways more concerning) there is little motivation to invest in increased mechanisation or methods to improve worker productivity if a pool of low wages serfs are available. Basic economics 101 as you say.
      You lost me about the black-market economy sorry.
      Michael seems like a real Gentleman so he might be willing to do the additional analysis you rudely ordered; I don’t think many would.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bad habit quoting bits I’d wished I’d written myself: “Our promiscuous immigration policy has resulted in large numbers of poorly qualified and desperate immigrants with a resulting strongly negative influence on wages. Folk choose to move to where the rewards are not being constantly undermined.”

        Like

  11. Not surprised to see Spoonley raising this isuue:

    “There is a case for revising aspects of the recruitment and approval of immigrants. The low value courses and qualifications offered by some educational providers puts New Zealand’s reputation at risk.”

    As the proliferation of low value and dubious PTEs are likely impacting negatively on our overseas marketing reputation for credible, high quality tertiary education via our universities.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Trainee Chefs – a self-sabotaging business

    Can someone explain the rationale behind a government institution domiciled in Wellington approving the importation of 600 apprentice chefs into Auckland, who will be paid $20 per hour, who will have extreme difficulty living in Auckland on that wage unless they bunk down on the premises, permanently

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s