Reading a NZ economist supporting large-scale immigration

As much as I can, I try to read and engage with material that is supportive of New Zealand’s unusually open immigration policy.   One should learn by doing so, and in any case there is nothing gained by responding to straw men, or the weakest arguments people on the other side are making.

At present, supporters of our unusually open immigration policy hold all the levers of power, and dominate much of the media.   But what has surprised me over the years I’ve been thinking about these issues is how unpersuasive I find the pro-immigration material, perhaps especially that written in a New Zealand context.   I’m not sure whether dominating elite opinion for so long has meant they no longer put the effort in, or what.  But whatever the reason, I’ve expected stronger arguments and evidence –  in support of a policy now run for 25 years –  and haven’t found them.

At the start of the year –  in a document that they were quite open about being aimed at Winston Peters, and those who might be listening to him –  the New Zealand Initiative came out with a substantial publication, largely devoted to saying that there was really nothing to worry about: if they couldn’t demonstrate the economic gains to New Zealanders (a point they acknowledged) there were few or no downsides.   If there was a case for any refinements, it was very much at the margins.  I devoted a series of posts(captured in a collected document) to examining the case they’d made.    I remain surprised at the limited extent to which an institution run by economists engaged with the specifics of New Zealand’s longer-term economic (under)performance.

A month or two ago, BWB Texts published Fair Borders? Migration Policy in the Twenty-First Century , a collection of chapters by various New Zealand authors (mostly, it would seem, of a left-liberal persuasion).  I wrote earlier about the chapter on a particularly unusual feature of the New Zealand system: we are the only country with any material amount of immigration (and one of only a handful in total) allowing people to vote if they’d resided here for just a year.

But my main focus is on the economic perspectives, both because that is my own background, and because successive governments have sold the immigration programme primarily as a tool to improve New Zealand’s economic performance and the economic outcomes of New Zealanders.   One doesn’t see it any more, but MBIE used to call the immigration programme a “critical economic enabler” .

And in Fair Borders there is a chapter on the economics of immigration, headed “International Migration: The Great Trade-Off”.   The author is Hautahi Kingi, a young New Zealander –  with a fascinating back story, that left me disquieted about aspects of our system –  who has recently completed a PhD on the ‘macroeconomics effects of migration’ at Cornell, and now works for a consulting company in Washington DC.

He begins his chapter in praise of migration –  not just something good, but something “central to human experience” –  harking back to some mythical day when humans were free to wander savannahs and steppes, constrained only by wild animals, unfamiliar climate, and hostile people who were already there, but not by official border guards.

As he notes, actually, 95 per cent of people live in their country of birth.  Probably a fairly high percentage live within 100 miles of where they were born.   Given this, Kingi concedes,

immigration policies have the potential to transform not just our economies, but the structure of our societies and institutions.

Which is, of course, part of what many people worry about.  Societies and institutions exist as they are for good reasons.    G K Chesterton had some wise cautions to those who happily lay into such institutions.

Kingi continues “by definition, international migration is a global issue”.  Well, I suppose so, in that for any international migration to occur at least two countries are involved.  But there is no necessary reason why immigration policy should be considered a global issue at all.   It isn’t like issues around pollution or climate change.  And few countries do treat it as an international issue.  They make immigration policy, as they seek to make policy in most other areas of governments, primarily in the interests of their own citizens/voters.

Kingi’s first main section is about what he describes as “the global perspective”.   He is pretty persuaded by the papers which seek to show that if only all countries opened their borders and people could move wherever they wanted there would be a massive – perhaps 100 per cent –  increase in world GDP.  In his words “from a global income perspective, no other policy offers anything remotely as appealing”.

But, in fact, he doesn’t make much of a case.  Sure, open migration would beat out foreign aid –  the alternative policy he quotes – as a means to lift average incomes.  But whoever supposed that most foreign aid ever did much good –  Peter Bauer was writing about this stuff decades ago –  or that much of it wasn’t more about foreign policy (cultivating relationships with foreign governments) than about lifting living standards in recipient countries.     Free trade in goods and services does much more than foreign aid.

Perhaps more importantly, surely the most compelling and effective means to lift living standards en masse is for countries to adopt growth-friendly policies and institutitions.  China is the most obvious example in recent decades.   They have a long way to go –  on both policies and outcomes –  to get to First World living standards, but what they have achieved in recent decades is transformative, and obvious.  And for hundreds of millions of people.

Unfortunately Kingi –  and many of the libertarians who also run such arguments –  end up running a latter-day version of the line one used to hear decades ago from people on the dripping-wet left wing side of economic debates: the poor are poor because the rich are rich.    To a first approximation, it is simply false.    People in New Zealand, or the UK, or France, or Denmark aren’t rich because we won some lottery, or just got lucky, but because our ancestors developed, and we maintain, cultures and institutions that develop and maintain a high level of productive capability (encouraging and rewarding people for investing in human and other forms of capital).   Sadly, too many other countries have failed to do so.   (The need to work hard to maintain such cultures is part of why I think Oliver Hartwich’s Herald op-ed today is profoundly wrong: character matters greatly.)

It is not as if change is imposssible –  look at the convergence achieved in recent decades by a handful of east Asian countries.  It is not as if our relative position is immutable either –  not 1000 years ago, China was well ahead.   But prosperity, en masse, is mostly about the institutions, broadly defined, that societies develop and maintain.  Doing so is hard work.

Are there exceptions?  Well, yes of course.  In our age, if you don’t have too many people, and you do have lots of oil and gas, your people can be very rich, even without many of the supporting institutions that otherwise seem to be required.  But those are windfalls, in a sense achieved by free-riding on the gains –  demand and technology – developed elsewhere.

Generally, even if individuals might feel themselves lucky or unlucky, societies –  and all of us exist within societies – aren’t lucky or unlucky: they are the product of successive generations of choices.   Immigration restrictions don’t “elongate the misery” of poor countries: the choices of those societies are primarily what have that effect.

Can one import prosperity?  To some extent one can.  After all, New Zealand (and Australia and the like) are examples.  Material living standards weren’t high for indigenous people pre-colonalisation.  But New Zealand and similar countries had lots of land, a temperate climate, and by importing not just lots of people from the then most advanced economic culture (and all the legal and associated institutions), something a bit like Europe was created here.   Maori shared –  perhaps to a lesser extent than might have been desirable –  in the prosperity that was created here.   But –  and these are Kingi’s words – “movement of people entails movement of culture and norms”.    A New Zealand that was once largely the place of Maori isn’t really so any longer.

But that 19th century example –  that transformed Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and US –  isn’t really relevant to New Zealand’s situation now.  Even if we wanted to engage in such a mass transplantation, there is no economic culture hugely more advanced than what we already have.

So Kingi’s focus is the other way round –  it is on the gains to migrants from being able to shift from poor countries to rich countries.  There is no doubt that, for individuals at the margin they are considerable –  it is why we see foreign students willing to pay $40000 for a job in New Zealand, with the aim of qualifying for a New Zealand residence visa.

But the staggering gains in the papers Kingi cites don’t result from quite modest flows, but from “massive” movements of people.  In his words “movement of people entails movement of culture and norms” –  and if those effects are small for modest migration flows, they are likely to be substantial for “massive” movements.  In the long-run, migrants import their own economic destiny –  just as we (descendants of the 19th century migrants from the UK) did.   And if poor migrants in large numbers ultimately bring their own cultures and institutions, it is most unlikely that in the long run they’d be better off here to anything like the extent the academic papers suggest.  After all, geographic New Zealand is no better intrinsically suited to economic prosperity for lots of people than many other parts of the world –  arguably (or so I’ve argued) our remoteness makes us less so.

Strangely, Kingi’s poster-child example of large scale immigration is the Gulf Cooperation Countries, such as Qatar and Kuwait.  86 per cent of Qatar’s population is made up of migrants. Qatar has probably the highest GDP per capita in the world.  It is obviously appealing to the poor migrants, who keep coming, but I’m not sure why Kingi regards it as a remotely appealing basis on which to sell mass migration to New Zealanders.   For a start, these are classic states with massive natural resources and (originally very few people).  It is no surprise that there are windfall gains that could be spread around.   But as even Kingi acknowledges, the exploitation of lowly-skilled foreign labour in countries like this is appalling (even if one wants to engage in economists’ talk of both sides benefiting or it wouldn’t happen).  It simply isn’t how we would want a society to be structured.  And although he notes that this large scale migration goes on without causing any great domestic political problems, (a) the migrants have few rights, and no political rights (even fewer typically than the natives), and (b) these are societies not exactly known for freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the like,  And, sadly, slavery –  or its modern equivalent –  can look quite appealing to the slaveholders and those who benefit from the practice.   It remains morally repulsive.

If you’d only got this far in Kingi’s chapter, you might suppose he was an out-and-out advocate of open borders and free migration, here and everywhere.     But it is here that he gets more interesting.  Note the trade-off in his chapter title, and he seems to recognise that whatever large scale migration might do for the migrants, it could well harm at least some natives.  I think he gives a fair account of the international debate about the impact of immigration on the wages of lowly-skilled natives

Although this debate continues unresolved in academia, it is at leasr conceivable that immigrants may negatively affect those native workers with whom they compete most closely for jobs.  The experience of globalisation in recent decades should teach us to take this potential concern very seriously.

He looks to reconcile what he sees a a global imperative to allow high immigration (generally) with the risk of harm to vulnerable natives, favouring better-educated migrants.

But as notes, immigration is’t just an economic issue.  And here too he seems torn.  He’s a paid-up member of those who “embrace multi-culturalism as a cherished part of progressive society” and yet recognises that “mass migration” can have a ‘potentially corrosive effect on that society”.    But as I say, he is torn.

When people cross borders, so do their cultures and norms, and we are almost always richer and stronger for it.


more diverse societies also tend to reduce the provision of public goods and erode support for the welfare state

Unlike some libertarians, that erosion of support for the welfare state seems to be a bad thing for Kingi.


[ethnic divisions] can severely undermine the social institutions sustaining an economy because, despite the assurances of modern legal systems, “virtually every commerical transaction has within itself an element of trust”

He notes

The impact of immigration on a country’s social fabric can be an uncomfortable issue to discuss because it forces us to acknowledge and confront lamentable tribal aspects of human frailty.

Institutions and societies evolve to cope with human fraility –  aka “reality”.

And almost in passing he notes a Maori dimension

modern Aotearoa was founded on the principle that tangata whenua have rights to their culture that should not be overridden by settlers.  At the heart of the critique against colonialism is a concern for the enforced erosion of culture.

Kingi sets out the concluding section of his chapter with the proposition that there is a moral dilemma between the global and domestic perspectives.

by restricting the entry of foreigners…we effectively accept the substantial inequality outside our borders in order to protect the veneer of equality within.

You can see where his economist instincts lie.  But he is simply wrong about the trade-off, at least once large numbers of people are involved.  Societies make, and sustain, their own destinies.   He argues that

migration is, and always has been, the best tool for reducing suffering  in our world

But demonstrably that isn’t so.  Europe didn’t get rich on the back of migration –  even if the 19th century outflows helped them a bit.  China didn’t lead the world –  and recover its standing in the last 40 years –  on the back of migration.   Perhaps some libertarians wish it were otherwise, but migration –  country to country –  has always been a distinctly minority experience.   It lifts prospects for relatively small numbers –  if the people of North America are generally richer than the countries of their ancestors, people of South American typically aren’t.  Rising prosperity, reduced poverty, mostly result from choices, conscious or unconscious, that societies make about how to organise and discipline themselves.

I’m not sure quite where Kingi himself ends up.  His chapter is strikingly high level, and despite being in a book focused on New Zealand hardly engages with the New Zealand economic experience (or New Zealand social/cultural issues) at all.  It certainly doesn’t recognise how unusually large New Zealand’s residence approvals programme is by modern international standards.

Perhaps when Kingi ends this way

While international migration represents a life-changing opportunity for many, it also threatens the livelihoods of others and strikes to the core of our societies by changing their structure, their jobs, their culture, their appearance

he is still working his way towards a policy prescription for modern New Zealand.

As part of Radio New Zealand’s recent podcast series on New Zealand immigration, Kingi and I did a series of email exchanges on these issues –  me as the sceptic and Kingi as the supporter.  Radio New Zealand tells me that the series of letters was well-received by readers,  in part for the very different angles they present on the economic issues.  I want to come back to that exchange, perhaps next week, to elaborate on some of the key points we each chose to make when confronted with the other’s arguments, under pretty tight word limits.



25 thoughts on “Reading a NZ economist supporting large-scale immigration

  1. I have the book on order at Auckland library (8 of 15 holds); hope it is worth the wait. It will be worth while getting a Maori view of immigration.

    “”that immigrants may negatively affect those native workers with whom they compete most closely for jobs”” seems more than conceivable. I’m not too bothered if the well paid are slightly worse off and our unusually high immigration has benefited me with property prices up and coffee and fish & chips cheaper. However I have three family members who are entering the NZ job market and are competing with immigrants willing to pay over $20,000 to their employer to qualify for residency. That is not a fair go.

    “”When people cross borders, so do their cultures and norms, and we are almost always richer and stronger for it.”” This is a high level argument but it made me think of animal and insect societies. Logically it would also apply to ant and termite colonies and swarms of bees but is there evidence that interacting insect colonies are more successful than more warlike isolationist colonies? There has to be some interaction just for the purpose of reproduction but is there any other interaction? Maybe insects are too different but most mammals live in extended families – do they have any equivalence to human immigration and if so do they benefit?

    Over 60,000 years of human interaction in PNG resulted in over 800 different languages and therefore 800 largely non-interacting societies. Certainly 800 different cultures and norms. If immigration makes societies richer and stronger why not substantial immigration in PNG? They did have trade with axes, shells and salt but I believe little immigration except for the rare occasions a tribe lost a war and was destroyed. Do anthropologists read this blog?


    • Here was my summary comment on the book in the earlier post:

      I’m hesitant about recommending it, as many of the chapters don’t offer much insight or analysis, but (a) there isn’t much being written in New Zealand on immigration policy, (b) it is pretty cheap ($14.95 from memory) and (c) the publisher (in the cover blurb) does recognise that the interests of actual or potential new migrants and the interests of New Zealanders aren’t necessarily the same.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Have you read the book Exodus by Paul Collier ? He covers many of the same arguments. I thought his book was quite interesting and raised a few issues I hadn’t thought of. I kind of wish there was an update that covered some of the more recent research in the area as the book is a few years old by now.


  2. It is rather difficult to harbour ill of migrants because migrants can always be only one generation deep. The second generation are New Zealanders. It is impossible an argument to say migrants do not benefit New Zealanders because, migrants virtually create native New Zealanders.


    • The idea of migrants being one generation deep is interesting. My family it is half a generation and I worry about my immigrant children competing with talented new immigrants willing to work for near third world wages.
      Social surveys in the UK found the average person had no difficulty with an immigrant who had lived in the UK a few years getting benefits and free medicine but they objected to immigrants who arrived and immediately went on to welfare benefits. Seems reasonable. The balanced position was after roughly two years it was felt that immigrants deserved to qualify for benefits.
      Harbouring ill of immigrants does depend on how they are integrating so in the UK Caribbean immigrants are now well accepted but third generation Bengali and Kasmiri communities are not so well accepted.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Migrants might only be one generation deep, but the effects (cultural, economic etc) can persist for multiple generations. Look at the radicalisation of the children of migrants in countries like Britain, France, Belgium. One could argue if the parents had assimiliated better, or if they hadn’t migrated, then those countries wouldn’t experience those problems.


      • Reading ‘The British Dream’ convinced me that successful immigration depends on class, language skills, and religion but also critically on speed/volumes. The early Kashmiri immigrants used to go to the pub and they even married UK girls – it was only when numbers increased and you had spokesmen for the immigrant minority that problems occurred.
        I am convinced that James Shaw was persuaded to abandon the Greens ‘evidence based’ immigration policy at his meeting with ‘representatives for ethnic/immigrant groups’ but if you actually ask a Chinese, Indian, Filipino or Korean permanent resident they say the opposite – mainly they came to NZ for it clean, green space and fair go traditions and want NZ to be really selective in choosing future new residents. [Or to put it clearer many visible ethnic immigrants will vote for Winston.]


  3. You could also argue that the first world is rich and wealthy from the rape and pillage of the 3rd worlds and that is why the the Treaty of Waitangi tribunals continue as dispossessed Maori still seek to have their lands ultimately returned to them.


    • One could argue that, but I don’t think many people would find it overly persuasive. There is no doubt the West acquired the colonies of settlement by force but (a) it was economic and technological advance that enabled them to successfully project power over such distances and acquire/hold such territories, and (b) the acquisitions were done, at latest, 150 years ago, and rich countries today are much richer than they were even 50 years ago. Yes, Spain gained from 16th century Latam silver, but I don’t think you could mount a credible story that today US and European prosperity reflects systematic exploitation of Latin America, Australasia or wherever. And oil is perhaps the most obvious counterexample – the biggest gains from that are going to the countries that still own it, be they Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, or Russia, Norway, the US.

      Liked by 1 person

    • You could argue it but you would have to explain why countries not particularly famous for rape and pillage have done well – such as Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden and also why places that experienced rape and pillage are now thriving such as South Korea and Singapore.

      While totally in favour of Treaty of Waitangi tribunals the concept of trying to right past wrongs can be difficult. The Maori’s lost their land only a generation after the Scottish highland clearances but there is no movement to return the land stolen in Scotland which still remains in large mainly empty estates. The idea is also used by Palestinians against Israel and Israel against ancient Rome and is a big dangerous bag of worms that threatens the world. In English law they had squatters rights – I remember some London properties changing ownership when hippy communes had been squatting in them for 20 years. The same concept is alive in squatter settlements in all the major cities of PNG.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow

    Kingi says 95% of people live in their country of birth. Probably a high percentage live within 100 miles of where they were born. Yet within the article it is revealed Gulf Countries, such as Qatar and Kuwait. 86 per cent of Qatar’s population is made up of migrants. Look up Dubai and the migrant population is 75%. What couldn’t be determined was whether one could become a “citizen” of these middle-east countries and obtain all the benefits that go with it


    I am no fan of Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich but I couldn’t see what you found questionable about his op-ed in the NZ Herald. Seemed alright to me. But then, I have stated in another place that Benefit Fraud is probably a lot cheaper than Motel Accommodation for the Homeless and Multi-National tax avoidance. To that extent Hartwich is quite right, the twitterati are foaming at the mouth over the wrong things


    • I don’t greatly like the tone of a recent immigrant (not even a citizen I think) telling us what we should be bothered about

      “With all due respect, I am sick of people getting excited about such issues”

      But more substantively, they go to character. Yes, I think there are lots of policies that need doing differently, but I worry much more about a climate that seems to think it is ok for, say, the Martin Matthews report to be kept secret, Peter Thiel to get citizenship while govt agencies attempt to cover up how little time he’d spent here, a RB Governor who tries to suppress critics while the MOF turns a blind eye, a PM/MOF who are quite prepared to let one of their MPs not cooperate with police investigations, a regional police commander interceding with his own staff for his daughter (and then getting a temporary promotion). (And, yes, I worry about benefit fraud from decades ago, and any deliberate tax avoidance too).

      Metiria Turei claimed we couldn;t have a sustainable planet without a just one. Perhaps. Part of what made this country what it was was the standards expected of people in public life. Lose that and it will be hard to do good stuff sustainably in lots of other areas of policy. And frankly housing markets or even immigration policy is easy to fix compared with fixing up a culture gone bad.

      (Oh, and I wasn’t too keen on his moaning about unheated bedrooms – not sure I’ve slept in a heated bedroom in my entire life, and I don’t feel deprived, let alone victim of a “scandal”)


  5. A challenge

    Next time you visit Auckland set aside some time to wander around Northcote, Highbury, Albany, Greenhithe, Pakuranga, Botany Downs, Dannemora, then find some old-timers that have grown up in these suburbs and interview them and try and elicit from them what life was like there in the past and compare that to what they have become. Ask them if they have benefitted from the mass influx of non-natives and if they enjoy being the minority in these enclaves and judge for yourself if these places are taking on a semblance of ghettos. Judge for yourself if they are well-kempt manicured suburbia they once were

    I realise this is micro stuff but sometimes you have to get your feet on the ground and go and see what is actually happening


    • Most of that was farmland when I first arrived, so you would be mainly asking sheep and cows their opinions. I am pretty sure the New Zealanders that have made clearly tens of millions of dollars from the various developments from bare farmland to residential and commercial would have great comments about these multi million dollar ghettos.


      • OK, so Albany and Botany and Dannemora may have been semi-rural, (werent too many cows or sheep around Albany even 35 years ago) but Northcote, Highbury and Pakuranga were not. They were suburbia. Then add Mt Roskill into the mix and you’d probably have difficulty finding any old-time natives still hanging around


    • I understand your point. But it is about the speed and degree of the changer not the change in itself. At Glenfield this morning doing my ‘Active Seniors’ class Olga the young leader (Russian immigrant) led a class that was roughly half Pakeha and half East Asian origin (I have trouble telling people from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korean and Japan apart but I learned never to ask having made the mistake of calling a Scot English many years ago and once asking a Kiwi which part of Australia he came from). Any split of that class by ethnic origin other than to note it in this post would be irrational – we all get on with one another with friendships and acknowledgements crossing boundaries of age/gender/origin. However you are right about feeling like a stranger on occasion in North Shore. I can understand those who say ‘we were never consulted’.

      No visit to Northcote should miss Rhymetime at the local library where a collection of mainly Asian mothers and grandparents with the odd Pakeha sing nursery rhymes with their toddlers – the librarian does the class alternating weekly from English to Te Reo Maori. I’m not sure if some of the grandparents can tell the difference. Anyway a total delight. Up the road in Highbury library rhymetime is a meeting for the aspiring middle class.


  6. Hi Michael, I enjoy reading your posts. It is exhilarating to finally see a strong economic case against our current immigration policy, which I believe to be very detrimental to our future as a country.

    In this particular post I note that you assert that “China didn’t lead the world – and recover its standing in the last 40 years – on the back of migration”
    In terms of international migration that might well be the case, but I think the argument could be made that Chinese growth was underpinned by a massive internal migration from the countryside to the city perhaps in a similar situation to the Industrial Revolution in the UK. As China has consistently refused to allow the migrant workers residency in the cities that they work in, I think it could be said that there are a lot of parallels with the international migration that fuels the gulf states too. Now that the supply of willing rural workers is running low, China may well have to turn to international migration to keep its factories running.

    Would be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, fair comment, and in every country that has developed there has been a huge shift from the country to cities.

      I doubt they will open up to foreign migration – it is all but impossible now for foreigners resident there to get citizenship and i get the impression – purely from things I’ve read – there is a lot of “racism” (or at least a felt sense of Chinese superiority, built up over centuries) there. I’d expect the barriers to internal migration to keep breaking down. and beyond that China doesn’t need more people to become richer – it needs better institutions (rule of law etc) and a climate that fosters ideas, practical innovation etc (TFP growth, rather than just more capital or more people).


    • Watched a documentary of Chinese factories transferring to Nairobi in Africa. One factory had 4,000 African workers. They were singing the old Red Army songs each morning and marching for their early morning doctrination. Do not think they even do that in China any longer.


  7. Clueless Kingi promotes Qatar!

    Even the guardian printed a factual report on Islamic views/behaviour (systematic abuse) of non-muslim workers.

    Not all immigrants are created equal. If they are muslim, many come practising Hijrah to develop Tamkīn and I‘dād (e.g. Sweden, France, Germany and the UK), whereas most other people come for a better life.

    Any immigration policy requires careful thoughtful decision making. As NZ is an isolated island it could become insular and lack vibrancy or it could develop effective and unique solutions to living in a safe, well educated society. Introducing others into NZ could enhance to harm the country.

    A study of immigrants from different countries and professions might highlight who brings the best productive benefits to NZ.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “He is pretty persuaded by the papers which seek to show that if only all countries opened their borders and people could move wherever they wanted there would be a massive – perhaps 100 per cent – increase in world GDP”
    Not too sure how seriously we can take a person’s forthcoming policy prescription for New Zealand who actually believes open borders will produce a massive gain to GDP when we can actually see real world examples of the staggering damage that can occur in quite a short period of time when borders are opened. We see infrastructure coming under pressure, social welfare costs ballooning, integration becoming more difficult causing social problems. I think overseas experience has shown we should not assume that local cultures, institutions and western ideals of freedom, will not come under attack.

    I think any policy of immigration must return to the fundamental question of whether the local population benefits or not, and these issues should not be decided on purely economic grounds, when so many other aspects of our society could be at stake. And as you have noted previously the economic benefits of mass migration to New Zealanders have not really been demonstrated empirically or persuasively and so a policy of reduced, more targeted immigration seems very reasonable.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “”For example, migrants may reduce some workers’ wages. But the effects are relatively minimal, especially compared to those faced by locals during the historical “en masse” migration that you favor.
    And rather than dismissing migration altogether, we could instead explore ways around these negative consequences, such as migration taxes, that would give us all a fairer slice of this heaven.””

    As said above reducing workers’ wages is more concerning to those on low wages and they are less likely to be reading these arguments.
    I like the concept of migration taxes – a feature of working in PNG but not NZ other than the limited visa and medical processing charges. Presumably it means fixed work permit charges and employer taxes similar to their Kiwisaver contribution. Has anyone made any proposals on this?


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