How Pro-Poor is the Selection of Seasonal Migrant Workers from Tonga Under New Zealand's Recognized Seasonal Employer Program?

29 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by John Gibson

John Gibson

University of Waikato; Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

David J. McKenzie

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Halahingano Rohorua

University of Waikato

Date Written: August 1, 2008

Abstract

Temporary migration programs for unskilled workers are increasingly being proposed as a way to both relieve labor shortages in developed countries and aid development in sending countries without entailing many of the costs associated with permanent migration. New Zealand's new Recognized Seasonal Employer program is designed to enable unskilled workers from the Pacific Islands to work in horticulture and viticulture in New Zealand for a period of up to seven months. However, the development impact on a sending country will depend not only on how many workers participate, but also on who participates. This paper uses new survey data from Tonga to examine the process of selecting workers for the Recognized Seasonal Employer program, and to analyze how pro-poor the recruitment process has been to date. The findings show that recruited workers come from largely agricultural backgrounds, and have lower average incomes and schooling levels than Tongans not participating in the program. Comparing the characteristics of program workers with those of Tongans applying to permanently migrate to New Zealand through the Pacific Access Category, the program workers are more rural and less educated. The program therefore seems to have succeeded in creating new opportunities for relatively poor and unskilled Tongans to work in New Zealand.

Keywords: Access to Finance, Labor Markets, Work & Working Conditions, Tertiary Education

Suggested Citation

Gibson, John and McKenzie, David John and Rohorua, Halahingano, How Pro-Poor is the Selection of Seasonal Migrant Workers from Tonga Under New Zealand's Recognized Seasonal Employer Program? (August 1, 2008). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 4698, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1258143

John Gibson

University of Waikato ( email )

Te Raupapa
Private Bag 3105
Hamilton, 3240
New Zealand

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

19 Milne Terrace
Island Bay
Wellington, 6002
New Zealand

David John McKenzie (Contact Author)

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Halahingano Rohorua

University of Waikato ( email )

Te Raupapa
Private Bag 3105
Hamilton, 3240
New Zealand

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