Immigration figures dispel a popular myth

Editorial One

Issue 432 February 15, 2020

Our front page story in this issue carries some interesting statistics. Indians (from anywhere in the world) have taken the lion’s share of all approvals of all types of visas processed and approved in the three years covering 2017 to 2019 than the previous three years- from 2014 to 2016.

These figures dispel a popular myth- that the current government is against immigration.

The total number of visas issued to Indians was 468,652 between 2017 and 2019, accounting for a rise of 56.25% over the previous three-year period under the National government.

These prove that the immigration process is not subject to any Party in power but dictated by the needs of the economy.

These figures should also put to rest the rhetoric that the New Zealand First Party in general and its Leader Winston Peters in particular is against immigration- per se Indians.

Defending Immigration

Looking around the developed world, most governments are in favour of immigration, despite equally vociferous defenders, who often fight on nativist turf, citing data to respond to claims about migrants’ damaging effects on wages or public services. Those data are indeed on migrants’ side.

Though some research suggests that native workers with skill levels similar to those of arriving migrants take a hit to their wages because of increased migration, most analyses find that they are not harmed, and that many eventually earn more as competition nudges them to specialise in more demanding occupations.

Self-interest Strategy

Appeal to self-interest is a more effective strategy. In countries with acute demographic challenges, migration is a solution to the challenges posed by ageing: immigrants’ tax payments help fund native pensions; they can help ease a shortage of care workers. In New Zealand for instance, people worry that foreigners compete with New Zealanders for the care of the Public Health Service, but pay less attention to the migrants helping to staff the system.

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