Migration policies and interventions lessons from new zealand and the pacific
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Migration Policies and Interventions: Lessons from New Zealand and the Pacific. David McKenzie, Development Research Group , World Bank. Motivation. Knowledge of what works and what doesn’t in terms of migration policy is a public good Yet very few serious evaluations

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Migration Policies and Interventions:Lessons from New Zealand and the Pacific

David McKenzie,

Development Research Group, World Bank


Motivation l.jpg
Motivation

  • Knowledge of what works and what doesn’t in terms of migration policy is a public good

  • Yet very few serious evaluations

  • World Bank work with the New Zealand Department of Labor provides example where

    • Specific knowledge generated to help design better policies

    • Public good knowledge generated in terms of evaluating development impacts of migration policies.


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Evaluation of Policies

  • Key question: If we want to say what the impact of a policy is, we need a counterfactual – what would have happened in the absence of this policy?

    => Role for international organizations to work with national governments in trying to answer this question.


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Pacific Access Category

  • Part of New Zealand’s Immigration system

  • Provides quotas to allow migrants in from selected Pacific Islands in additional to standard family and skilled migration channels

  • Have to be 18-45, no criminal record, minimum English requirement to apply

  • Many people apply, so random ballot (visa lottery) used to select

    • This helps us in evaluation

  • Need to show evidence of job offer to be able to migrate.


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Pacific-Island New Zealand Migration Survey

  • Worked with NZIS to survey Tongans applying for this quota

    • Winners (Migrants) surveyed in New Zealand

    • Losers (Non-migrants) surveyed in Tonga

    • Also surveyed Tongans who didn’t apply to migrate

  • Comparing the winners and losers allows us to say what is the effect of migration: people who wanted to migrate but weren’t selected in the lottery are a natural control group.


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Selected results

  • Find a 263% increase in income within first year of migration – only about half the increase suggested by GDP/capita differences

  • Find migration improves mental health of migrants, especially women.

  • Infants who migrate experience less stunting, but we also find higher obesity for children who migrate

  • Ongoing work is looking at the effect on household members left behind in Tonga.


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What does the New Zealand experience tell us about job offers?

  • Underlying issue in many policy debates over migration is immigrant jobs

  • Three main types of employment immigration policies:

    • Points systems: Explicitly select on skills, work experience and qualifications, but don’t require a job offer (Australia General Skilled Migration Program, Canada Skilled Worker Visa)

    • Explicitly require job offer before migration

      • Employer-sponsored migration (e.g. H1-B program in U.S.A.)

      • Policies which require a job offer, but not employer sponsorship (e.g. Pacific Access Category, some versions of temporary worker programs being proposed)

    • Hybrid systems: select on skills, but also give “points” for having a job offer (e.g. New Zealand Skilled Migrant Category, U.K. points scheme)


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What does requiring a job offer do in terms of who migrates? offers?

  • Look at what types of Tongans apply to the Pacific Access Category

    • Look at the process by which they obtain job offers

  • Also ask both applicants and non-applicants the percent chance they would migrate if there were open migration.

  • See how policy effects types of individuals who migrate.


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Findings offers?

  • During 2002-04 phase of the Pacific Access Category, requirement of job offer acts to select individuals to migrate on the basis of whether they had a large family network in New Zealand.

    i.e. basically extends range of family members who could migrate from narrow family-sponsored categories, but doesn’t give those without family a chance to migrate

  • Found 75% of job offers obtained from family members in New Zealand; 8% through agents.


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Findings continued… offers?

  • We found that only 39% of migrants over 2002-04 actually worked in the job for which they had a job offer

  • New Zealand revised their system, to better verify job offers, speed up processing, and facilitate direct recruitment by employers

    Following the policy change, we see far fewer migrants relying on family to get job offer, and more taking up job offer upon arrival.


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Lessons offers?

  • Requirement of job offer will lead to a de facto family migration scheme, unless there is more active policy involvement to broker jobs:

    • Directly, such as New Zealand case, may not be possible with larger flows

    • Allowing travel visas so potential migrants can seek jobs

    • Through use of agents

  • We found those who didn’t take up job offers found employment quickly – typical low skilled immigrant occupations have rapid turnover and frequent new hiring, so perhaps no need to require an ex ante job offer (especially with permanent migration).


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Ongoing work offers?

  • New Zealand is implementing a seasonal worker program to allow 5000 Pacific Islanders a year to work as seasonal workers in New Zealand.

  • World Bank is actively engaged with New Zealand authorities to help in evaluating the success of the program and its development impacts

    • Knowledge generated will be public good that can help guide policy debates elsewhere.


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Moving forward offers?

  • Need for development organizations and national governments to be actively involved in evaluating policies from the inception point.

    - difficult to evaluate ex post

    - Pilot programs provide an ideal time for experimentation and knowledge generation.


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