Tuesday 29 January 2013

Immigration - falling behind

Another from the I-freaking-told-you-so department.

I suggested NZ grant permanent residence automatically to foreigners here completing a degree at one of our main universities. Three great effects:
  • NZ gets the benefit of a big pool of talented people;
  • A big pool of talented people currently stuck in bad places get better lives;
  • Foreign students in NZ universities massively cross-subsidise domestic students. We could provide a better quality product for domestic students at little cost to them.
But America may wind up beating us to it. A bipartisan Senate committee recommended the following:
The framework features extra money for border enforcement and the establishment of a border commission composed of governors, attorneys general, and the like from border-area states. It will provide for automatic green cards to "immigrants who have received a PhD or Master's degree in science, technology, engineering, or math from an American university." It will also create what I take to be an enlarged agricultural guest-worker program, only with some mechanism for veteran guest workers to earn green cards. It will provide a mechanism for unauthorized migrants to turn themselves in, pay a fine and back taxes, and receive provisional legal status.
Matt Yglesias recommended widening this; I'd be a bit surprised if the anti-immigration lobby didn't wind up restricting it further. But the US suddenly becoming less stupid about immigration will not be to New Zealand's immediate benefit.

New Zealand has to get better faster to avoid falling behind.

Update: Brad DeLong and Greg Mankiw put it well a few years ago....


  1. Only if they are engineering and science degrees.
    Too many BAs at McDonalds already

  2. When I look out of my window here at Canterbury, I see lots of domestic students in all the degrees, but international students clustered in sciences and commerce - fewer essays there. I don't think you need to worry overmuch about a huge influx of foreign students wanting to get degrees in critical theory, poetry, or other language and discourse-heavy disciplines.