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Migration Trends and Outlook 2007/08

MIGRATION FLOWS

Highlights

Introduction

New Zealand's population is affected by migration flows, including trans-Tasman migration, the arrival and departure of New Zealand and Australian citizens and residents, the arrival and departure of visitors and people on work and student permits, and the arrival of permanent residents through the New Zealand Residence Programme (NZRP).

The net migration flow is the difference between the number of permanent and long-term arrivals and the number of permanent and long-term departures.[31]

Many factors affect migration flows. The departure of New Zealanders, particularly to Australia, is one of the main drivers of New Zealand's migration patterns. The free movement of New Zealand and Australian citizens and permanent residents between the two countries makes it relatively easy for New Zealanders to seek opportunities in Australia. Of all permanent departures from Australia in 2007/08, 18.4percent were to New Zealand.[32] New Zealand's expatriate community, estimated at 500,000-750,000,[33] is increasingly seen as an important contributor to New Zealand's economic prosperity.[34]

New Zealand's environment, people, and lifestyle opportunities, and safety from crime or violence are the things permanent migrants to New Zealand like most about living in New Zealand.[35] These and other reasons play an important role in attracting people to New Zealand as tourists, students, temporary workers, or permanent residents. However, these same migrants report that perceived high tax rates, difficulties understanding the tax system, the distance from New Zealand to their home country or family, and the cost of health services are some of the negative aspects of life in New Zealand.

One measure of a migrant's successful settlement and contribution to New Zealand is the extent to which they remain in the country after their arrival or approval for residence. In 2005, the Department of Labour studied migrants' movement patterns into and out of New Zealand.[36] A key finding from this study was the confirmation that migrants are consistently lost from New Zealand over time.

Migrants leave New Zealand for different reasons, only some of which relate to 'unsuccessful' settlement, such as not being able to find work. Reasons include family ties, business commitments, or an intention to live and work in New Zealand temporarily rather than settle permanently. Department of Labour research shows that most migrants are not highly mobile. Of migrants approved between 1998 and 2004, 79percent had fewer than three spells of absence from New Zealand with only a small proportion of migrants being highly mobile and spending significant periods out of New Zealand.[37]

Sections 4.2 and 4.3 analyse temporary arrivals and permanent and long-term migrants respectively. Section 4.4 assesses the impact of migration on population growth. Sections 4.5 and 4.6 track the cohorts of migrants approved for residence within a calendar year. The analysis looks at those migrants who arrived to take up residence and migrants who left New Zealand permanently. A time-series analysis shows movement patterns over time.

Temporary arrivals in New Zealand

Most people arriving in New Zealand are overseas visitors intending to stay for less than 12 months or New Zealand residents returning from a short trip overseas. Most people departing from New Zealand are overseas visitors returning from a short stay or New Zealand residents who intend to return to New Zealand within 12 months. Within any given year, flows fluctuate seasonally, with large numbers of visitors arriving over the summer months, and during particular events, such as the New Zealand International Sevens Tournament.

In 2007/08, about 1.5 million people were granted a temporary visitor, student, or work permit on arrival in New Zealand. In addition, over 756,000 Australian citizens travelled to New Zealand (Australian citizens do not require a permit to enter New Zealand). The top five visitor source countries (the United Kingdom, the United States, China, Japan, and South Korea) contribute 58percent of all temporary arrivals to New Zealand. In 2007/08, the number of visitors from four of these five countries (United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, and South Korea) decreased from 2006/07 levels.

Figure 4.1 illustrates the annual flow of visitors to New Zealand from 1997/98 to 2007/08.

Figure 4.1 Number of visitor arrivals, 1997/98-2007/08

Figure 4.1	Number of visitor arrivals, 1997/98-2007/08

Data table for Figure 4.1

The number of migrants coming to New Zealand for work or study over the decade to 2007/08 has grown rapidly. The peaks for the number of people arriving as international students are aligned to the academic year, the semesters of which start in January or February, and July. Less seasonal fluctuation is seen among people coming to New Zealand to work, but numbers are generally higher in summer.

Figure 4.2 shows the sustained increase in the number of work permit holders entering New Zealand since 1997/98. International student numbers have been decreasing since a peak in 2002/03, but increased for the first time in 2007/08.

Figure 4.2 Number of worker and student arrivals, 1997/98-2007/08

Permanent and long-term migration

Permanent and long-term arrivals include people who arrive in New Zealand intending to stay for 12 months or more. This includes people granted permanent residence in New Zealand, New Zealand residents returning after an absence of 12 months or more, and students and work permit holders intending to stay for 12 months or more.

Permanent and long-term departures include New Zealand residents departing for an intended period of 12 months or more, as well as overseas visitors, students, or work permit holders leaving New Zealand after a stay of 12months or more.

Net permanent and long-term migration is the difference between the number of permanent and long-term arrivals and the number of permanent and long-term departures.

The total number of people migrating to and from New Zealand fluctuates, and cyclical patterns emerge over long time series. Despite these fluctuations, the general trend has been one of continual growth. Figure 4.3 shows the changes in permanent and long-term arrivals and departures since 1978/79 and the fluctuations in net migration inflows and outflows.

Figure 4.3 Annual permanent and long-term (PLT) migration flows, 1978/79-2007/08

Source: Statistics New Zealand.

In general, the number of permanent and long-term migrants arriving from Oceania, including Australia and other Pacific countries, has decreased since the 1980s, while the number from Asia and Europe has increased. The number of permanent and long-term migrants arriving from Asia increased rapidly between 2000/01 and 2003/04, largely because of significant growth in the export education industry.

Since 2003/04, the number of permanent and long-term arrivals from Asia has decreased, while the number from Europe, the United Kingdom in particular, have increased. The decrease from Asia is primarily due to falling international student numbers and a shift in the main source countries for permanent residence in New Zealand. Over the five years to 2007/08, the number of Asian people granted permanent residence has decreased, particularly from Southern Asia, while numbers from Europe have increased.

Figure 4.4 shows the patterns of migration flows for New Zealand and non-New Zealand citizens. Over the three decades to 2007/08, the number of New Zealand citizens returning after being away for 12 months or more has been relatively constant. The number of New Zealand citizens departing for 12months or more has fluctuated, but tended to increase since 1993. The number of New Zealand citizens departing for 12 months or more has been consistently greater than the number returning, resulting in a steady loss of New Zealand citizens over time. The loss of New Zealand citizens has been mainly to Australia. However, the net outflow of New Zealand citizens is offset by the net inflow of non-New Zealand citizens.

Figure 4.4 Annual permanent and long-term migration flows by citizenship, 1978/79-2007/08

Source: Statistics New Zealand.

Table 4.1 shows the permanent and long-term migration flows for 2006/07 and 2007/08. In 2007/08, the net inflow of permanent and long-term migration to New Zealand was 4,700 people (the difference between 85,200 permanent and long-term arrivals and 80,500 permanent and long-term departures), which was less than half the 10,100 recorded for 2006/07. This resulted mainly from a large increase in the number of departing New Zealand citizens (up 6,500 from 2006/07).

Permanent and long-term arrivals of non-New Zealand citizens increased from 59,200 in 2006/07 to 62,200 in 2007/08. The net inflow of 40,000 non-New Zealand citizens is the highest net inflow recorded since 2003.

In 2007/08, the main sources of net permanent and long-term migration inflow were the United Kingdom (7,300), India (4,400), the Philippines (3,500), Fiji (2,600), South Africa (2,400), and China (2,200). Departures to Australia increased 18percent in 2007/08, resulting in a net permanent and long-term migration outflow to Australia of 32,000, up from 25,000 in 2006/07.

Table 4.1 Permanent and long-term migration flows, 2006/07 and 2007/08
Permanent and long-term migration flows New Zealand citizens Non-New Zealand citizens Total
2006/07 2007/08 2006/07 2007/08 2006/07 2007/08
Arrivals 23,500 23,000 59,200 62,200 82,700 85,200
Departures 51,800 58,300 20,800 22,200 72,600 80,500
Net migration -28,400 -35,300 38,400 40,000 10,100 4,700

Note: Figures may not sum due to rounding.

Source: Statistics New Zealand.

Impact of migration on population growth

New Zealand's estimated resident population at 30 June 2007[38] was 4,228,300, representing an increase of 43,700 (1.0percent) from the 30 June 2006 estimate of 4,184,600. This population growth is less than the average annual increase of 44,700 (1.1percent) over the past decade.

Population growth from 2006 to 2007 was due to a natural increase (that is, more births than deaths) of 33,700 (77percent) and net permanent and long-term migration of 10,100 (23percent). The natural increase is usually the main contributor to population growth, accounting for about two-thirds of New Zealand's population growth in the past decade. Figure 4.5 shows that the natural increase is constant over the series but the fluctuations in the annual population change follow the movements in net migration.

Figure 4.5 Components of population growth, 1992-2007

Figure 4.5	Components of population growth, 1992-2007

Data table for Figure 4.5

Source: Statistics New Zealand.

Migrants who did not take up residence

This section is based on a cohort analysis.[39] The number of residence approvals in a given cohort is based on the number of applications completed within the calendar year, not the number of applications decided.[40]

Most migrants approved for residence from 1998 to 2006 arrived in New Zealand to take up residence or were in New Zealand at the time of approval.[41] Of the 368,418 people approved during this period, 361,787 (98.2percent) took up residence in New Zealand.

The proportion of people approved for residence but not taking up residence has decreased from 3.5percent of the 1998 cohort to less than 1percent of the 2005 and 2006 cohorts. This decrease reflects the increasing proportion of people who are in New Zealand on a temporary permit when their residence permit is granted. It is expected that people who are already in New Zealand on a temporary permit are more likely to take up residence than people who are not in New Zealand. From 1998 to 2006, 6,631 migrants approved for residence did not arrive to take up residence.

A comparison of residence categories shows that approvals under the general skills categories (the 1995 General Skills Category and 2003 Skilled Migrant Category) had the highest rate of people who did not arrive in New Zealand to take up residence. From 1998 to 2006, the general skills categories accounted for 36percent of approvals for residence, but represented 59percent of people who did not arrive in New Zealand to take up residence. Over the same period, Partnership approvals were 17percent of approvals, but accounted for just 9percent of people who did not arrive in New Zealand to take up residence. Table4.2 shows the number of people who did not arrive in New Zealand to take up residence by residence approval category.

Table4.2 People who did not arrive in New Zealand to take up residence by residence approval category, 1998-2006
Residence approval category Approvals Non-arrivals
Number Percent (%) Number Percent (%)
General skills* 134,377 36 3,936 59
Partnership 62,494 17 624 9
Parent 30,392 8 561 8
Investor 11,738 3 172 3
Humanitarian 9,438 3 437 7
Samoan Quota 8,721 2 178 3
Refugee Quota 7,307 2 333 5
Other 103,951 28 390 6
Total 368,418 100 6,631 100

Note

* The 1995 General Skills Category and 2003 Skilled Migrant Category.

For all but two of the main national groups of migrants approved for residence from 1998 to 2006, less than 2percent of people approved for residence did not arrive in New Zealand. The exceptions were India (3.5percent) and South Africa (2.0percent). For both countries, most (over 88percent) non-arrivals had been approved through the general skills categories. Table 4.3 shows the non-arrival rate by source country.

Table 4.3 Proportion of non-arrivals by source country, 1998-2006
Source country Approvals 1998-2006 Non-arrivals 1998-2006 Non-arrival rate (%)
United Kingdom 71,651 753 1.1
China 46,388 549 1.2
India 38,169 1,328 3.5
South Africa 30,705 624 2.0
Fiji 21,155 198 0.9
Samoa 17,094 271 1.6
South Korea 13,886 172 1.2
Other 129,370 2,736 2.1
Total 368,418 6,631 1.8

Residence approval categories of long-term absent migrants

'Long-term absent' refers to a migrant who has been out of the country for six months or more.[42]

Table 4.4 combines the residence approval categories into six groups and shows the proportion of migrants absent for six months or more as at 31December 2007. The table shows a wide variation in the proportions absent in different cohorts and different groups. Migrants approved through the business categories have the highest rate of long-term absence, with approximately one-third of business migrants leaving permanently, although the rate has dropped to about 10percent since 2005. Absence rates are lowest for migrants approved for residence through the International/Humanitarian Stream.[43]

The rate of absence generally increases with the length of time since residence, with the earliest cohort having the highest rate of absence. As at 31 December 2007, 23percent of migrants approved in 2000 had been absent for six months or more, compared with 5percent of the migrants approved in 2006 (see Table 4.4).

Table 4.4 Rates of absence by residence approval groups for migrants approved for residence, 2000-2006
Residence approval group Percentage long-term absent by cohort as at 31 December 2007 (%)
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Total
Family parent 23 21 21 18 14 9 8 18
Business categories 36 40 44 31 23 11 8 27
Skilled categories 27 24 22 19 14 10 6 18
Family partnership 19 17 16 14 10 8 5 14
Family other 15 10 9 9 9 7 4 11
International/ Humanitarian 15 12 14 5 4 3 1 9
Percentage long-term absent at 31December 2007 (%) 23 22 21 16 12 9 5 17
Number long-term absent as at 31December 2007 7,918 10,603 10,112 6,916 4,221 4,532 2,687 60,072
Total approved 34,457 48,432 47,429 43,049 34,383 52,233 49,153 361,787

Note: The 2007 cohort is excluded from this analysis because migrants in that cohort have had insufficient time to arrive in New Zealand.


[31] An arrival or departure is permanent and long term if the intended length of stay or absence is 12 months or more.

[32] Department of Immigration and Citizenship. 2008. Emigration 2007-2008 Australia. Belconnen, ACT: Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Available at http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/pdf/emigration_08.pdf.

[33] Population and Sustainable Development website, Sustainable Development for New Zealand: Programme of Action. Available at http://www.population.govt.nz/faqs/frequently-asked-questions.htm.

[34] Kea, founded in 2001, is a not-for-profit, private sector organisation made up of expatriate New Zealanders. Kea’s mission is to connect New Zealand with its large global community and contribute to the growth, development, and future prosperity of New Zealand by facilitating the share of knowledge, contacts, and opportunities around the world. Kea has around 22,000 web subscribers in over 170 countries and is the largest and broadest network of New Zealand expatriates.

[35] Statistics New Zealand. 2008. Longitudinal Immigration Survey: New Zealand (LisNZ) – Wave1, Hot Off The Press. Wellington: Statistics New Zealand. Available at http://www.stats.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/4816641F-FF8A-401D-99E8-E73BEBB88125/0/longitudinalimmigrationsurveynzmay08hotp.pdf.

[36] P Shorland. 2006. People on the Move: A Study of Migrant Movement Patterns to and from New Zealand. Wellington: Department of Labour. Available at http://www.dol.govt.nz/pdfs/Migrants-absenteeism-from-NZ.pdf.

[37] P Shorland. 2006. People on the Move: A Study of Migrant Movement Patterns to and from New Zealand. Wellington: Department of Labour, Table 4.15, page 55. Available at http://www.dol.govt.nz/pdfs/Migrants-absenteeism-from-NZ.pdf.

[38] The estimated resident population is based on the census usually resident population count, with adjustments for residents missed or counted more than once by the census and for residents temporarily overseas on census night. 30 June 2007 is the most recent estimate of resident population.

[39] A sizeable lead time is needed when undertaking this analysis. People approved at the end of a calendar year have up to a year to arrive in New Zealand, which means a person approved for residence at the end of 2005 could arrive in New Zealand as late as the end of 2006.

[40] An application is decided when a decision is made to approve or decline the application. An application is completed when the visa or permit label is issued in the applicant’s passport.

[41] The 2007 cohort is excluded from this analysis, because the people in this cohort have not yet had 12 months to arrive in New Zealand.

[42] This section is based on a cohort analysis, which is described in footnote 39. The difference between completed and decided application dates is explained in footnote 40. The completed application date is more accurate than the decided application date when calculating long-term absence.

[43] In this analysis, the Family Other group includes people approved for residence through the Family Child Dependent, Family Child Adult, Family Sibling, Family Quota, and Humanitarian Categories.