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Studying Migration

In 1986-87 there were 20,100 temporary visas issues to Overseas Students studying in Australia - 18 years later in 2004-05 there were 174,790. Similar trends occurred for Working Holiday Makers (i.e. "backpackers") where the figures were 20,000 in 1986-87 and 104,353 in 2004-05. Total temporary visas were 668,423 in 2004-05.

These and many other features of Australian migration are in the Position Paper distributed this week from the Productivity Commission http://www.pc.gov.au/study/migrationandpopulation/positionpaper/index.html The main focus of this report is the link between economic factors and migration and the changing mix between skilled and family long term migrants. In 2004-05 there were 100,000 skilled and 40,000 family migrants; in 1993-94 there were 18,000 skilled and 42,000 family. The increased skills mix has brought with it a greater emphasis on English language proficiency. The changes in English language migrant entry requirements from 1994 onwards are summarised on page 154 of the report.

Despite the report's 300 pages, we are still no closer to knowing accurate annual numbers for net overseas migration. This is discussed on page 219 of the report where retrospective adjustments have been of the order of 20%. The subject is also covered in a FinDem Resouces item http://www.findem.com.au/resources/displayResourcesArticle.php?id=23 With this level of inaccuracy for the basis element of the study, one wonders what credence can be placed on productivity related measures of migration impact.

Posted Sunday, 22 January 2006


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