06 December 2010

New Zealand Visa for Pacific Islanders boosts incomes back home

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New Zealand’s new seasonal migration scheme is a win for the local horticulture and viticulture industry, seasonal workers and economic development in their home countries, new research by the University of Waikato has shown.

New Zealand immigration

The New Zealand Visa program for seasonal Pacific workers gives a triple win.

The evaluation of New Zealand Visa program for Pacific workers, the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, has found that participation in the scheme raises household per capita income back home by almost 40 per cent.

Professor John Gibson of Waikato Management School said: “Our research provides further evidence that migration is one of the most effective ways to boost development in poor countries”.
“Coupled with analysis which shows improvements in productivity for growers that hire RSE workers and very low rates of overstaying and modest impacts on the native labour force, these results suggest more countries should give seasonal worker programs a chance.”

This New Zealand Visa scheme draws up to 8,000 workers a year, mostly from Pacific nations. Amongst the Pacific Island workers, nearly three-quarters are from Tonga and Vanuatu. The researchers looked at the impact of the scheme on a sample of 900 households in these two Pacific nations between 2007 and 2010.

After participating in the scheme, per capita incomes of households sending workers were approximately 40 per cent higher than for matched households who did not have workers recruited.

On top of higher incomes, the researchers found other benefits to households from participating in the RSE scheme.

Participants are more likely to make dwelling improvements, to open bank accounts, and to make major purchases of durable goods. In Tonga, the researchers found substantial increases in secondary school attendance for 15 to 18 year olds in households participating in the scheme.

Under the New Zealand immigration scheme, which began in 2007, migrants work for an accredited employer in the horticulture and viticulture industries for up to seven months in every 11 months, and may return if recruited again.

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