Immigration vital to New Zealand economy

11 June 2008

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At a recent conference in Wellington, New Zealand, attendees were told that immigrants could be four times more valuable to the economy than their native-born counterparts. Also, new research shows that there is little evidence that migrants drive up the price of homes in New Zealand.

Academics and researchers at the 'Pathways, Circuits and Crossroads' conference warned that the New Zealand economy could be negatively affected if its immigration intake is curtailed.

During the conference, Rob Hodgson of the Department of Labour said that recent studies found that migrants in New Zealand contributed $8.1 billion to the economy in 2006, while only using $4.8 billion in benefits. In comparison, New Zealand-born citizens contributed $24.8 billion and used $22 billion in benefits.

"The net impact for having an immigrant here is $3.29 billion, or $3547 per capita, while the net per capita contribution of a New Zealand-born is just $915," Hidgson said.

At the same time, new research has debunked the notion that immigrants are to blame for soaring housing prices in the South Pacific nation.

According to Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove, findings in the new study 'Housing Markets and Migration: Evidence from New Zealand' show that there is a small link between population growth and higher New Zealand housing prices, but that immigration was not to blame.

"Interestingly though, the report did find an association between New Zealanders returning home and local house price increases during the period studied, 1986-2006," Cosgrove said. Many New Zealand citizens have moved abroad in recent years, mainly to Australia.