OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Brain Drain Et Cetera

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  • linger,

    One problem with the Brain Grain graphs is that the “half-pie charts” for individual countries’ departures and arrivals show numbers of individuals using, not area, but radius, which is visually quite misleading: a “half-pie” representing twice the number looks four times larger.
    (The line plot also available provides a better scaling of that data.)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Nat,

    I'm one of the 1,123 people aged 34-39 to come from Australia in 2009. I am the .1%, or something like that :-)

    I noticed that the departures-to-Australia figure spikes and dips quite markedly over the years. Have you (or will you?) given any thought or analysis to what was happening around these spikes and dips? Is it world events, local policy, combination, something else?

    My partner and I were talking about this the other day, wondering if it would be possible to link the interest-free student loans policy to any particular behaviour i.e. does that policy entice people back?

    Sydney • Since Jun 2011 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    So we bailed too big to fail companies, why don't we bail student loans?

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to merc,

    So we bailed too big to fail companies, why don't we bail student loans?

    You can't assume people are only going overseas because of student loans. Leaving aside the whole issue - which is one I do feel strongly needs fixing - and speaking as a university-educated person in her twenties who left the country last year, I did it because, basically, New Zealand is small and the world is large. I could have gone on to postgraduate education at home but it would have limited my options severely.

    Young, educated people are always going to leave New Zealand. We are a country of four million people at the back end of nowhere. I love NZ, and I'm coming home when I'm done, but frankly if you have the opportunity to live overseas for at least a year or two you'd be crazy not to.

    The real question is: how do you make them want to come back? I still feel that, in the long-term, aside from the emotional ties, New Zealand is my best option for living the majority of my life. That's the feeling you want to inspire in people. Whether they leave temporarily is not important. Whether they return long-term is. And, important though student loans are, they are only one factor influencing that decision.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    I left NZ at 17. I studied at university at 36, our daughter is going to university next year. 11 billion dollars in back debt really scares me. How we pay for our daughter's studies is a very pressing issue.
    Interest free student loans? I am not convinced. How to get people back to NZ, I am not concerned. Where people choose to live is of no concern to me, at all, ever, :-)

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to merc,

    Young, educated people are always going to leave New Zealand. We are a country of four million people at the back end of nowhere. I love NZ, and I’m coming home when I’m done, but frankly if you have the opportunity to live overseas for at least a year or two you’d be crazy not to.

    Seconded. NZers for the most part don’t necessarily emigrate because of taxation or otherwise political reasons, they emigrate to escape suburban cabin fever. Case in point – drag queen Pollyfilla moved to Melbourne, for the simple fact that she’d outgrown Wellington. As Tom Beard noted in an old blog post, NZ largely went from ‘rurality to suburbia without the urbanity in between’. There's a world of difference between a city and an overgrown small town, if they have the same populations.

    On the other hand, we take in a lot of downshifting Brits and East Asians, among others.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4304 posts Report Reply

  • Nat, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    You can't assume people are only going overseas because of student loans.

    I definitely wasn't assuming that - I just thought it was interesting that there seemed to be such distinct spikes and dips and I am curious about what was going on at each of these. But maybe that's just me :-)

    Sydney • Since Jun 2011 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng, in reply to linger,

    not area, but radius

    GAH! Can't believe I left that in there. Thanks for noting that...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 535 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    Keith. You are a drain brain.

    Since Nov 2006 • 523 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    A lot of those Australian arrivals are kiwis. I get counted pretty much every time I cross the border.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2135 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng, in reply to George Darroch,

    not area, but radius

    Rookie mistake: Fixed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 535 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    I noticed that the departures-to-Australia figure spikes and dips quite markedly over the years. Have you (or will you?) given any thought or analysis to what was happening around these spikes and dips? Is it world events, local policy, combination, something else?

    My partner and I were talking about this the other day, wondering if it would be possible to link the interest-free student loans policy to any particular behaviour i.e. does that policy entice people back?

    The most obvious thing to compare it with is unemployment - you don't go to UK/Aus when the job market there is crap. Will add that in the next version...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 535 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng, in reply to George Darroch,

    A lot of those Australian arrivals are kiwis. I get counted pretty much every time I cross the border.

    True. But you actually *are* moving long-term every time, right? And you come back and forth, so you kinda balance yourself out.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 535 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to George Darroch,

    It depends what you put on departure/arrival cards as to your intentions, right?

    If you put that you're off on holiday for a few weeks, they don't count you as PLT,

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4459 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh,

    Wow, I'm one of 22 people aged between 20 and 24 to have moved to China in 1999, and one of 75 aged 25 to 29 to have made the same trip in 2002. I note the numbers are long term and permanent arrivals and departures, though, so my wife and I aren't included in the surprisingly low numbers for our age groups in 2010. Allow me to second, third and fourth comments on the smallness of NZ being a factor in the "brain drain". Small isn't bad, but it does have disadvantages. It was the need to find work that inspired both those two moves. And the much greater difference between income and cost of living really helps, too.

    But I'm not convinced by suggestions of NZ's "provincialness". In a weird echo of comments I got as a student in NZ that studying French was a waste of time (Hello?! Studying foreign languages and cultures in a country entirely dependent on international trade a waste of time?!), I occasionally have people here in Beijing tell me I wasted my degree in French. Nope, not true, it's just not immediately obvious how having studied French could be useful to somebody teaching English in China. The people of Beijing, be they locals, migrants from other parts of China, or foreigners, can certainly be just as "provincial" as the people of Tianjin or Tawa. Still, it certainly would be good to see a bit more respect for foreign language and cross-cultural communication skills and overseas work experience in NZ.

    So economics is one driving factor in the "brain drain" and therefore one area that needs some fixing to attract us diaspora types back. "Down-shifting" certainly has its attractions though, and when my half-Pakeha-half-Han family sat down to discuss where to educate our daughter, NZ's low pressure/reasonable results education system won out easily over China's high pressure/weak results system. I know we're not the only family to think the same way. So for crying out loud, don't break that!

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2107 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    “Down-shifting” certainly has its attractions though, and when my half-Pakeha-half-Han family sat down to discuss where to educate our daughter, NZ’s low pressure/reasonable results education system won out easily over China’s high pressure/weak results system. I know we’re not the only family to think the same way. So for crying out loud, don’t break that!

    The way things are going, Minister Tolley might as well impose gakushu juku.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4304 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to DeepRed,

    As Tom Beard noted in an old blog post, NZ largely went from ‘rurality to suburbia without the urbanity in between’. There's a world of difference between a city and an overgrown small town, if they have the same populations.

    I've solved the long-term temptations of overseas urban living by moving to semi-rural America. The bright lights of Wellington are going to seem pretty damn bright when I get back, believe me.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    So, half the people stop leaving for Australia every time the government changes, with the government changing every time that peaks around 40k per annum. Notice what it's currently at? 40k per annum. Cool, might get a government change, certainly will next time if not.

    Otherwise, got a lot of British bobbies in to be cops under Helen, got a short peak of Chinese hopefuls (all the same age, ~30-35 now?) too. The odd rush of Indian doctors to drive our taxis (as a threat to local Doctor's union). A steady run of white people taking their 2.3 kids out of South Africa forever. Only a trickle of old folk either way, and most young emigrants don't come back.

    Mostly though, people from various places come here, people from here go to Australia if they're sick of the government. Cool. Heh, my parents moved to Oz at the end of Muldoon, and again at the end of Lange.

    Since Nov 2006 • 469 posts Report Reply

  • Hans Versluys,

    My entry into NZ in 1990 is invisible in those charts. I came from Europe (not the UK) to steal your land, jobs and men.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2011 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Hans Versluys,

    What's wrong with our women? ;-)

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    My entry into NZ in 1990 is invisible in those charts. I came from Europe (not the UK) to steal your land, jobs and men.

    Not from Germany, are you? Cos it's there, just obscured by the big blob from the UK.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 535 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Hah, my sojourn in the UK from 1998 to 2003 exactly reflects the flip from net emigration there to net immigration here.

    And with the hand-wringing about the "brain drain" from here to Oz, it's very rarely I see the fact mentioned it's often actually a LABOUR drain. A decent minimum wage and the mining industry are certainly incentives to get away from shitty $12 an hour jobs here

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 477 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    People don’t immigrate just for reasons of employment or wages though. I and most of my friends who migrated 04-07 left before the recession badly hit either NZ or the UK, when there were a fair amount of interesting and well paying jobs available in both countries.

    The principle reason seems to be, in our cases, that the UK would make for an interesting change, even if not intended to be a permanent move.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 889 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Ben Austin,

    The principle reason seems to be, in our cases, that the UK would make for an interesting change, even if not intended to be a permanent move.

    The big pond theory seems to come into play. London has that exclusive pedigree of being a former empire capital, and continually evolves as a modern capital.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4304 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Indeed.

    Perhaps also this is a disadvantage of being a minor member of the Anglophone community. Linguistically and culturally NZers can identify with these larger, more exciting, sometimes richer member states and sometimes easily immigrate. I'd imagine this has been the way since British colonisation.

    It must be a much harder decision (to immigrate) to make if one is not from the Anglophone community

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 889 posts Report Reply

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