Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The truth behind the brain drain

There is a message coming out this year, it’s a message to lead us into this election about New Zealanders heading off shore. We are being told repeatedly that 80,000 New Zealanders are leaving each year, this is the fault of the Labour Government and we need to get rid of them to stem the flow and bring New Zealanders home.

I challenge this premise and will show you some statistics that will back up a far less sinister possibility that the evils of the current régime.

From, “I simply won't believe we have to put up with losing 80,000 of our people every year to other parts of the world.”

So let’s look at the facts, according to Statistics NZ, in 2007 77,081 people left New Zealand. Of that 77,081, 21,436 we not New Zealand citizens. Therefore 55,645 New Zealand citizens left New Zealand permanently. In 2007 22,969 NZ Citizens also came back to NZ to live permanently. This gives us a new result of losing 32,676 New Zealand Citizens, still a very large number, but no where near what some may deem a misleading figure of 80,000. It should also be noted that Statistics NZ class leaving permanently as “anyone who is leaving for more than one year,” which of course include numerous young kiwis doing OEs, and many people who would intend to return to NZ at a later date. Still fair top-line point about a large number of New Zealand citizens leaving.

If we delve a little further, lets look at the last five years and see how many New Zealand Citizens have left NZ ‘permanently and what out net migration number of NZ Citizens was.

Now as you can see, the numbers are no where near as bad as what is being ‘sold’, they are still high, we are still losing more New Zealanders each year than we are gaining but the question is, is it because of a terrible government. The only fair way to answer that is to compare it to another government, say the last National government.

So the last 5 years of the previous National government’s migration numbers, for New Zealand citizens, looked like this.

Now if we look at the net result of the last five years of the Labour government, and the last 5 years of the previous National government, we can see that are pretty similar. However, if we then work it out based on the population at the time, you can see that clearly more New Zealand citizens were leaving under the previous National government, than the current Labour government.

Here’s what it looks like
So we have unequivocal poof that our net result of gaining/losing New Zealanders was worse under a National government than the current Labour government in all bar one of the last 5 years of office for each party.

At best you could say that the numbers are so close that the argument is moot, and maybe just a cycle, at worst the National party seems like it’s saying, “these guys in now are almost as bad as we were in 1999 for losing New Zealanders, you better vote them out before that get as bad as we were in 1999”

That is of course unless the government of that day, be it National in 1999, or Labour in 2008 has little to do with New Zealanders leaving, or returning permanently, maybe it is just our adventurous spirit that has always been there, maybe it’s that young kiwi’s have always wanted to go on a working holiday…and the current crop are moving away from Europe and the OE-du-jour is now Australia.

Maybe it’s all just political spin.