Immigration – is it a problem?

Thursday October 26, 2017 Sam Green

Immigration has been a hot topic in the recent election and it is no secret that net migration has been increasing over the past few years.



For the past year, migration growth has slowed with net migration remaining steady at a rate of just over 70,000 people per year. Latest migrant numbers released by Statistics New Zealand last Friday show that net migration has now passed its peak; for the second consecutive month, annual migration has fallen, the first time this has occurred since August 2012. Despite a reduction in net migration, immigration has continued to rise, though not as fast as the rate of people leaving New Zealand.



At 70,000 people per year, net migration remains the largest contributor to New Zealand’s population growth. In September 2017, average daily net migration was 203 people, 45 more than are born in New Zealand on an average day.



New government solution


net migration under labour national2


Our new government is being sworn in today and are promising to hit the ground running. One of their key policies is a reduction in net migration to the tune of 20,000 to 30,000 people per year. This reduction sets the net migration target at 45,000 to 50,000 people per year which is very high compared with historical rates. This target is much higher than under the last Labour-led Government and higher than long-term average net migration under the departing National Government.  


From the above graph, we see immigration has only been above the new targeted levels for the past three years. This period is also one of the few times where New Zealanders have stopped leaving the country. On a monthly basis, for the first half of National’s tenure, 2,350 New Zealand citizens left New Zealand each month.  For the second half of National’s tenure, this fell to just 500 people per month, in some months we actually received more New Zealand citizens from Australia than citizens that left. Aggregating this back up to an annual basis, net New Zealand citizen migration was 22,000 people per year higher in the second half of National’s tenure than the first half.