Settlement Patterns and the Geographic Mobility of Recent Migrants to New Zealand
Data and Sample Characteristics
Data Sources and Variable Definitions
This paper uses unit record data for the entire usually resident New Zealand population from the 1996 and 2001 Census. The Census collects information on each individual's country of birth and their year of first arrival in New Zealand. We restrict our analysis throughout to individuals aged 30-54 with non-missing country of birth and years in New Zealand, if foreign-born. We focus on this age group to exclude students and individuals nearing retirement. We classify individuals as being either New Zealand-born, a recent migrant or an earlier migrant, where recent migrants are all individuals who first arrived in New Zealand less than 5 years ago and earlier migrants are all individuals who first arrived between 5 and 10 years ago. All other foreign-born individuals are excluded from the analysis in this paper.
Information is also collected about the current usual residential location of each individual and their usual residential location (including overseas) five years before the census date (i.e. at the time of the previous census). This location information is coded to the census meshblock, allowing us to identify local labour market areas (LMAs). In practice, we utilise the 58 LMAs defined in Newell and Papps (2001) using an algorithm that ensures that most people who live in a LMA work in it, and most people who work in a LMA live in it. We drop a small number of individuals for whom the address recorded on the census form is not sufficient for assigning an LMA to the current residence. Focusing on functional local labour market areas has major advantages over using administratively defined geographic areas, as migration between LMAs is typically related to employment mobility, whereas migration within a LMA more strongly reflects residential factors (Mare and Timmins 2005).
These restrictions leave us with an analysis population of 1.04 million individuals in the 1996 Census of which 91% are NZ-born, 5% are recent migrants and 4% are earlier migrants. For the 2001 Census, our total analysis population is 1.11 million of which 90% are NZ-born, 6% are recent migrants and 4% are earlier migrants.
Table 1 presents demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of recent migrants and the NZ-born in the 1996 and 2001 Census. As in most countries, recent migrants are younger than the non-immigrant population (for example, 33% are less than thirty-five versus 24% of the NZ-born in 1996 and 31% versus 21% in 2001). But unlike the US where most immigrants are low skilled, in New Zealand, recent migrants are much more qualified than the NZ-born, with 44% of recent migrants in 1996 (36% in 2001) having university degrees versus 10% of the NZ-born (12% in 2001). This is reflected throughout the qualification distribution, with few migrants having no qualifications compared to the NZ-born. This comes as no big surprise given that NZ operates a highly structured immigration system that focuses mainly on higher-skilled migrants. A similar proportion of recent migrants and the NZ-born are female. As will be discussed in more detail later in the paper, recent migrants are clustered in certain local areas, in particular, 69-70% of recent migrants live in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch versus only 35% of the NZ-born.
The ethnic distribution of recent migrants is quite different from that of the NZ-born. In both 1996 and 2001, among the NZ-born, 83% of individuals aged 30-54 report being European/Pakeha, 15% Māori, 1% Pacific Islander, 1% Asian and 0.1% Other. Among recent migrants in 1996, only 45% of the individuals aged 30-54 report being European/Pakeha, while 46% report being Asian, 5% Other, 4% Pacific Islander and 0.1% Māori. Among recent migrants in 2001, the percentage reporting being Pacific Islander increased to 7% and Other to 6%, with the percentage reporting being European/Pakeha or Asian decreased by 2%. These changes are consistent with the observed changes in the birthplaces of recent migrants. In general, the region of birth distribution of recent migrants is fairly stable between 1996 and 2001, but there has been an increase in immigration from the Pacific Islands and Sub-Saharan Africa (including South Africa) and a decline in immigration from North-East Asia.
Turning to socioeconomic characteristics; employment rates are much lower among recent migrants compared with the NZ-born, confirming previous findings by Winkelmann and Winkelmann (1998) and Boyd (2003). For example, only 65% of male recent migrants and 42% of female recent migrants are employed in 1996 compared with 87% of male NZ-born and 71% of the female NZ-born. This gap has narrowed in 2001, with 73% of male recent migrants and 52% of female recent migrants employed versus 87% of male NZ-born and 75% of female NZ-born. The Census does not directly collect wage data. However, it does collect total annual income on an individual basis. Recent migrants have lower levels of average income than the NZ-born. On the other hand, average incomes for full-time wage/salary employees are quite similar for recent migrants and the NZ-born, suggesting that the overall difference occurs because of differences in hours of work and other income for these groups and not wage rates. In general, average incomes for full-time wage and salary workers are likely to measure something reasonably akin to a wage rate and thus we use the mean income for these workers to proxy for the wages of particular migrant/skill-groups throughout the remainder of the paper.
An Analysis of Attrition/Return Migration between 1996 and 2001
The second half of this paper examines the mobility of earlier migrants. These migrants are the cohort of recent migrants five years on from first settling in New Zealand. We would like to compare the results from this analysis to those from our first analysis that examines the settlement decisions of recent migrants. However, some migrants from this cohort will have decided to leave New Zealand in this five-year period. We examine whether there is likely to have been selective attrition among the 1996 cohort of recent migrants by examining the characteristics of these migrants in 1996 and comparing these to the characteristics of earlier migrants in 2001. Once properly restricting both samples to individuals aged 30-54 in 1996 (i.e. individuals aged 35-59 in 2001), these are two snapshots of the exact same group of individual minus those that are not in New Zealand in 2001, either because they have moved elsewhere or have died.
Table 2 presents the demographic characteristics of these two migrant groups. The first thing to note is that only 71% of recent migrants in 1996 remain in New Zealand five years later. Some of these 'missing' individuals may be overseas at the time of the 2001 census, but intending to return to New Zealand. Yet, this is unlikely to explain much of the attrition of this cohort. Unfortunately, the census does not provide information on the visa that each migrant holds, but it is likely that a number of recent migrants are on temporary visas, such as working holiday visas, and are intending to stay in New Zealand for less than five years. Interestingly, the observed attrition has had almost no impact on the gender, age, ethnicity, or region of birth distribution of this cohort of recent migrants. The only noticeable differences are a slightly reduced percentage of migrants from Australia and North America and a slight increased percentage of migrants from the Pacific Islands and British Isles.
Larger changes are seen in the distribution of qualifications. The percentage of the cohort with no qualifications decreased from 15% in 1996 to 8% in 2001 and the percentage with degrees qualifications decreased from 44% to 34%, while the percentage with school qualifications increased from 21% to 42%. Unfortunately, the coding of foreign qualifications changed between the two census years resulting in the percentage of recent migrants having missing qualification declining from over 20% in 1996 to only 5% in 2001. The observed changes in the qualification distribution for this cohort are consistent with most individuals with missing qualifications in 1996 being recoded as having a school qualification in 2001. The changes are also consistent with selective attrition by both unskilled and high-skilled recent migrants, compared to low-skilled migrants. Unfortunately, it is not possible to distinguish between these two explanations.
While this analysis examines selective attrition only for one cohort of recent migrants, it suggests that the settlement decisions of recent migrants can be directly compared to the mobility decisions of earlier migrants to investigate how locational decisions change with time spent in New Zealand. However, we acknowledge that if there is selective attrition for other cohorts of recent migrants (or if the estimated relationships between local characteristics and settlement decisions differ across cohorts), our results for recent and earlier migrants may not be directly comparable.
 We also have access to the 1986 and 1991 Census data, but choose to focus on the 1996 and 2001 for two reasons: first, New Zealand underwent a period of comprehensive market-oriented economic reform from 1984-93 which complicates interpretation of any results from the early time-period (Evans et al. 1996); and second, the 1991 Census did not ask foreign-born individuals their year of first arrival in New Zealand making it impossible to separate recent from earlier migrants in this Census. We do present some descriptive results for 1986 for comparison purposes.
 Country of birth is a write-in question. All responses are coded to a particular country or region, if the answer is incomplete.
 5% and 4% of individuals aged 30-54 are missing country of birth or years in New Zealand in the 1996 and 2001 Census, respectively.
 Appendix A contains further information on how LMAs are created and a map of the 58 LMAs in New Zealand. There is an additional ‘overseas’ LMA.
 Less than 1% of prime-age individuals have an undefined current address. As discussed below, we include individuals for whom the LMA of their previous residence is undefined.
 A large number of migrants have missing qualifications in 1996 because of the way that foreign qualifications were coded in this census. Qualifications are also missing for a smaller number of NZ-born in both years and migrants in 2001. These individuals are excluded from the qualification tabulations.
 Individuals in the census can report up to three ethnicities. We focus on the distribution of prioritised ethnicity, which assigns each individual to a single ethnic group. An individual is assigned to the first ethnic group they report in the following order: Māori, Pacific, Asian, Other, European/Pakeha.
 The Pacific Islands include Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia (excluding Hawaii); the British Isles include the UK and Ireland; Western Europe includes Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and the smaller countries in that area; Northern Europe includes all the Scandinavian countries; Southern Europe includes Italy, Portugal, Spain and the smaller countries in that area; South-Eastern Europe includes Greece, Cyprus, the countries of the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Romania; Eastern Europe includes all remaining former Eastern Bloc countries, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic republics of the former Soviet Union; North Africa and the Middle East includes Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and the Gulf States; South-East Asia includes Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Viet Nam, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and East Timor; North-East Asia includes China, Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia, Taiwan, Japan and the Koreas; and Southern and Central Asia includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the former republics of the Soviet Union in the Caucasus and Central Asia; North America includes the US, Canada and Bermuda; Central and South America includes the remainder of the Americas, and Sub-Saharan Africa includes the remainder of Africa including South Africa.
 Total income is collected using a bracketed question and covers all income sources. We create a continuous variable by converting the raw data using the mid-point of each bracket and an estimated mid-point for the top bracket.
 Full-time wage/salary workers are individuals who report working more than 30 hours per week at their main employer (defined as the employer at which they work the most hours) and report being a paid employee (as opposed to being an employer of others in their own business, otherwise self-employed, or an unpaid family worker).
 Mortality is unlikely to be an important factor for the age-group examined in this paper, as based on projections from Statistics New Zealand’s life tables, less than 1% of this age-group should die over a five-year period.