Gender, Mobility and Migration into New Zealand: A Case Study of Asian Migration
Workforce Research & Evaluation
Department of Labour
Institute of Policy Studies
Victoria University of Wellington
Workforce Research & Evaluation
Department of Labour
Statistics New Zealand
Population Studies Centre
Skilled migration flows into New Zealand are important to the Department of Labour’s goal of building New Zealand’s workforce and attracting (and retaining) talent to contribute to the nation’s economic transformation. Globally, female migrants constitute nearly half of all migrants in developed and developing countries. This global presence of women in migration is also reflected in the increase of women using what have previously been male-dominated migration streams. This research paper focuses on the migration of Asian women into New Zealand for two reasons. Firstly, Asian migrants are a significant and increasing source of skilled labour, which New Zealand is in competition for; and secondly, the 2006 Census shows that in key working-age groups there are significantly more Asian women than men living in New Zealand. The Department of Labour’s databases were analysed to calculate trends and gender ratios in migrants entering New Zealand through the Skilled/Business stream and Temporary categories from 1997/98 to 2005/06 as principal applicants. Our results show that although men dominate the overall Skilled/Business stream and Temporary categories, there is large diversity by nationality and women from some Asian countries are critical players in the migration process. Census data, which represent the net result of inflows and outflows, suggest that there have been more Asian women than men migrating to New Zealand. Department of Labour immigration data do not fully support this overall gendered migration from Asia, but consideration of gender, age, country of origin and migration stream uncovers much complexity within these overall flows.
New Zealand has a long history of gendered migration, and this has affected the overall gender balance in the population.2,3 Apart from brief periods in World War 1, the 1918 influenza pandemic and World War 2, official records show that from the time of European colonisation through to 1968 there were more men than women in the total New Zealand population. However, since 1968 there have, at each census, been more women than men living in New Zealand. This partly relates to the ageing of the population, with more women, due to gender differences in mortality rates, in the older age groups. However, the census data also show that in the prime working-age groups there has been an increasing imbalance between women and men; for example, the 2006 Census indicated that there were over 57,000 more women than men in the broad 25–49 years age group. Differences in mortality cannot explain this, and while undercount is a factor, a key driver has to be gendered migration (Callister et al. 2005).
Research by Callister and colleagues has shown that when ethnicity is considered, 2001 Census data indicate that the overall imbalance between Asian women and men living in New Zealand was especially pronounced, with 26% more Asian women than men in the broad 25–49 years age group, and 37% more in the 30–34 years age group.4 Their research also indicates that inward migration has been a component of this imbalance, with the strongest imbalance in flows in the 25–29 years age group. In this age group in the 1995–2004 period there was a net Permanent Long Term (PLT) gain of 9,824 Asian men as against 14,064 Asian women.
There have been people of Asian ethnicity living in New Zealand from the early days of European settlement, but initially the numbers were very small and heavily weighted towards males. However, in the 1980s and 1990s the number of people of Asian ethnicity grew rapidly. This growth is not surprising given that Asia is home to nearly 60% of the world’s population, and China is the world’s largest country with a population of 1.3 billion people in 2006 (Hugo 2006, 2007).5 Due to its size, but also its recent liberalisation of movement of people, China is an increasingly important source of global migrants (Hugo 2007). It is therefore to be expected that Asia will be an important source of migrants to all high-income countries. Given that New Zealandwants to identify, attract and target skilled migrants, Asia is therefore an obvious source of such migrants. As will be shown, Asia, and particularly China, has also become an important source of international students.
Despite the growing significance of the global feminisation of migration, including the feminisation of labour-market-related migration, this area has received little research or policy attention in New Zealand. Patterns of gendered migration from Asian economies have received even less attention, despite the recent growth in migration from these countries. Hugo (2006) notes two important issues that need to be considered when undertaking research and policy development in this area. The first is the difficulty of generalising given the enormous diversity within the Asian region in terms of size, resources, economic development and cultural, ethnic, political and religious orientation. Secondly, the increase in migration from Asia has not been matched by an analysis of the composition of these flows (Hugo 2006). This paper attempts to provide a starting point for discussions about gender and migration by using Asian migration as a case study.
Chapple (2000) claims that prior to colonisation, differences in mortality meant that there were more Māori men than Māori women. In addition, gendered migration meant that in the early period of European migration to New Zealand Pākehā men vastly outnumbered Pākehā women (Arnold 1982). This was a pattern also seen in major migration flows from Europe to the main settler countries of Canada, the United States, Australia and South Africa. As an example of early New Zealand migration, Dalmatians came during the latter years of the nineteenth century to escape the depressed economic conditions of their homeland. Of the original 5,468 settlers between 1897 and 1919, only 177 were women (Stoffel 1982). Another example was the early migration by Chinese. Although most men were married, their wives remained in China, so the sex ratio of the community was extremely unbalanced. For example, there were only nine women to 4,995 men in 1881 (Ip 2007).
A number of factors – most not unique to New Zealand – drove this strongly male migration. Migration policy had an effect on some of these flows, such as restricting the migration of Chinese women in 1925, but the nature of the economy has always been a strong driver6 (Ip 2007, Fraser and Pickles 2002). Initially, most of the jobs were in the primary sector, with gold mining, timber extraction and farming being key employers. Later the manufacturing sector emerged, but again primarily attracted skilled males in areas such as the trades. In these early periods, the women who migrated to New Zealand came either as wives of migrants, as potential wives, or as a source of domestic labour (Fraser and Pickles 2002, Hastings 2006). Thus marriage markets and labour markets have long been a driver of female migration.
Although there has always been some female component to migration flows, over the last 20 years the gender balance of international migration flows has changed considerably in response to a number of factors, including gender-selective demand for foreign labour, economic development, and subsequent changes in gender relations in countries of origin and countries of destination. According to an International Labour Organization (2003) report, female migrants constitute nearly 51% of all migrants into developed countries and about 46% of all migrants into developing countries. In most developing regions females are increasingly migrating independently, not just as dependants or family members (Sorensen 2004). Castles and Miller (2003) have described the consequences of all these trends as an "increasing feminisation of migration at a global level".
In part, the size of the various streams of migration influences the overall gender composition of migration. Researchers and policy makers have tended to divide migration into two groups: permanent and (historically of lesser importance in New Zealand) temporary migration. Although these two categories are now not entirely separable, they nevertheless provide an initial analytical framework in which to consider gendered migration.
In the New Zealand Residence Programme, 60% of the places are allocated to the Skilled/Business stream, followed by 30% to the Family Sponsored and 10% to the International/Humanitarian streams.
Most countries endeavour to attract skilled workers, and skilled migration is currently the most important source of new migrants for New Zealand. Historically, skilled migrants have tended to be male, but women are increasingly participating in tertiary education at high levels (and now higher than men in all the main developed countries). This delays marriage and childbearing, making women increasingly mobile (Dumont et al. 2007). Also, some well-educated women may want to migrate to escape restrictive cultures. Women today increasingly migrate independently and/or for work purposes (Carling 2005). Even when women migrate to join family and spouses, given that marriage markets tend to bring together similarly qualified people, female partners of skilled migrants are likely to be skilled and want to work in the destination country.
One area in New Zealand where skilled migrants are a very important part of the workforce is the health sector. For instance, an estimated 41% of doctors working in New Zealand hospitals were trained overseas, with a significant number coming from Asia (Chisholm 2007). Stilwell et al. (2004) note that African and Asian nurses fill the gaps in the health sectors in countries such as the UK and USA, and suggest that this will continue in the near future. The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) also note that recourse to foreign nurses in response to the crisis in nursing has constituted a truly global labour market, especially in the UK and Ireland, as well as in Canada and the USA. Above all, it is the Philippines that supply the overwhelming number of nurses (UNRISD 2005). It is important to note here that nursing is a female-dominated sector, with women comprising 90% or more of the nursing workforce (Buchan and Calman 2004).
In the late 1990s one million women from the Philippines, 500,000 Indonesian women and 40,000 Thai women were working outside their countries (International Organization for Migration 2005). The Philippines is the largest exporter of migrant labour throughout the world (Jolly and Reeves 2005). In the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, female migrants account for 60–80% of their labour migrants (Jolly and Reeves 2005). While many of these women are lower-skilled domestic workers, and often temporary workers, the Philippines places a premium on the training and education of its emigrants – particularly nurses, but also domestic workers and seamen – as part of its proactive labour exporting policy (International Organization for Migration 2005). As a result, the Philippines is able to achieve higher wage levels for its migrants in destination countries (Orozco and Fedewa 2005).
As well as health, skilled women have tended to be attracted into welfare and social professions, such as education and social work, both of which are traditionally female jobs. An analysis of UK work permit data for 2000 showed that sectors with high proportions of female staff constituted some of the fastest growing sectors of migrant employment. Currently, in New Zealand, both nurses and teachers are on Occupational Shortages Lists.7 This partially explains the growth in nurses and teachers coming into New Zealand as skilled migrants.
Although migration may be "permanent", short-term movements by these migrants may lead to gender imbalances in the New Zealand resident population. This could be because of so-called "astronaut" and "cosmonaut" family patterns, where migrants, after taking up residence, spend lengthy periods out of New Zealand. Typically, "astronauts" return to their country of origin to work or do business, leaving their spouses and children in New Zealand. "Cosmonaut" migration refers to childless married migrants who engage in astronaut-like practices. In a Department of Labour (NZIS 2000) study, 57% of cosmonauts had spent time apart, where one member of the couple was in New Zealand and the other overseas. Of two-parent migrant families, 16% of the principal applicants had spent over 60% of their time out of New Zealand since taking up residence. This study did not look at gender differences in these practices.
Another migration stream is through partnership.8 The demand for residence through the Family Sponsored stream remains high, especially though the partnership and parent categories. This policy allows family members of New Zealand residents and citizens to be granted residence. Currently in New Zealand women dominate this stream. Hugo (2005) shows that marriage across borders is an increasingly important part of migration in many areas of the world. In part this is a result of increased travel allowing the mixing of people from different countries. If it is mainly men who leave New Zealand for work and travel, this could lead to a gender imbalance in favour of women coming in as foreign-born partners (provided the men come home). Overseas-born partners are able to apply for residence through the Family Sponsored stream. If the overseas-born partner has existing children, these children also need to apply for residence though the Family Sponsored stream.9
The organised migration of women for marriage (often labelled "mail-order brides") can be another source of permanent migrants. The practice is often portrayed in countries such as the US or New Zealand as primarily European males marrying Asian women (or perhaps Russian women). Although it is not known how the partnerships came about, New Zealand research does show up some gendered patterns of intermarriage with Asian women, and particularly Thai and Filipino women, far more likely to have a European partner than the reverse situation (Callister et al. 2005).
In New Zealand, men dominate the International/Humanitarian stream.10 New Zealand is a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. Under these policies, New Zealand accepts an annual quota of 750 refugees. Quota refugees come through under three main categories: Protection, Women at risk and Medical/Disabled (Department of Labour 2004).11 British research shows that refugees and asylum seekers are primarily male (Vertovec 2006). However, subsequent flows connected to this initial migration can be highly gendered if it is mainly female partners who arrive through family migration schemes.
Research shows that policies on skilled immigration can change the gender balance of migrants. As an example, Inglis (2003) suggests that a shift away from family reunification to a skills-based approach appears to have boosted female migration in Australia. Recognising that migration policy may have a different impact on women and men, Canada has begun testing all new immigration policies for their potential gender impact.12
In New Zealand 1.5 million people were granted either a temporary visitor, student or work permit on arrival in 2005/06. Temporary migrants (workers and students) generate significant benefits for New Zealand’s labour market as they possess skills and experience needed by New Zealand employers (Merwood 2006).
International students also contribute to New Zealand through foreign exchange earnings and by promoting international links. At the end of their studies, international students are able to participate in the labour force because they can offer employers New Zealand qualifications (Merwood 2006). In Canada, the contribution of international students to science and engineering is commended as advancing Canada’s knowledge-based economy (Boyd 2006). The number of fee-paying international students in New Zealand has increased strongly, from just under 6,000 in the mid-1990s to reach a peak of just over 50,000 in 2004.13
In most high-income countries, the increasing employment of well-educated women and the ageing of the population have seen an increasing demand for service workers, including low-skill care workers. Globally it is primarily women who migrate to undertake domestic or care work. This flow of labour is often from developing and/or newly emerging economies to developed Western economies, and can be characterised as a "global transfer of domestic services". As already noted, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand are important sources of such labour. In an earlier phase of their development, many Western countries extracted natural resources and agricultural products – rubber, metals and sugar, for example – from these colonised regions. Now, the transfers include a less tangible form of exchange, that of "care" (Ehrenreich and Hochschild 2002). Remittances home from these workers are very important for some countries. For example, in 2002 remittances from Sri Lanka’s migrant workers contributed to 27% of that country’s foreign exchange earnings (Siddiqui and Hossainul Haque 2005).
There is also an increasing demand for temporary workers in areas such as harvesting. New Zealand’s Minister for Immigration introduced a temporary seasonal work programme in 2005 to cover the summer harvesting period 2005/06, and this was extended to run through to the end of September 2006 (Bedford 2007). In October 2006, at the Pacific Forum meeting in Fiji, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Helen Clark, advised delegates that there would be a new seasonal labour migration scheme. This scheme was introduced in April 2007 and it allows for up to 5,000 temporary workers to be employed in any one season. Depending on the nature of the job, women may be preferred to men (or vice versa).
New Zealand has a visa-free policy with 54 countries. Australian citizens, for example, do not require a permit to enter New Zealand, and in 2005/06 almost 700,000 Australian citizens travelled to New Zealand (Merwood 2006). People who do require a visitor visa need to demonstrate that they meet the standards and obtain it prior to travelling to New Zealand. People who do not need a visa to enter New Zealand are issued with a visitor permit on arrival in New Zealand.
In New Zealand a growing proportion of temporary workers and students make the transition to permanent residence: about 30% of work permit holders and 20% of student permit holders gain permanent residence within five years of being issued their first work and student permits (Merwood 2006). Temporary visitors can also make the transition via the nature of their relationships with New Zealand citizens and permanent residents (Bedford 2007).
Boyd (2006: 5–6) notes that there are three main types of irregular migrants:
- those who enter a country legally with valid documentation, but who violate the terms of their admission (e.g. those on visitors’ visas)
- those who enter a country legally but with fraudulent documentation
- those who enter a country illegally (i.e. without undergoing formal admission).
She notes that the "irregular population" in the USA, a group that is the subject of much debate in recent years, is estimated at about 10 million people, representing a little over one-quarter of all foreign-born people in that country. Boyd notes that women are estimated to comprise about 41% of irregular migrants in the United States.
At times, illegal immigrants such as overstayers can make the transition to permanent residency. Bedford (2007) notes the 2000 Transitional Policy, which allowed well-established overstayers in New Zealand to legalise their residence via a temporary work permit if they did not have appropriate work when they registered as overstayers. This was one of the most important routes to residence in New Zealand for Pacific citizens between July 2002 and June 2006, accounting for 13% of the 31,521 residence approvals for citizens of Pacific countries.
Stilwell et al. (2004) note that some Asian governments have attempted to control female migration in order to protect their citizens from abuse abroad, but suggest that these policies have driven migrants urgently needing an income into more risky, clandestine forms of migration. Boyd (2006) notes that the trafficking of persons is a gendered aspect of illegal migration. She suggests that this "modern form of slavery" includes begging, forced labour (especially in sweatshop manufacturing or farms), and prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation. Although men and children are part of the trafficked population, women and young children predominate, often working in the sex trade.
Labour Market Outcomes of Female Migrants
Although women are increasingly migrating for employment, a policy concern for many Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries is the differential labour market outcomes for migrant women. Certain groups of immigrants face specific difficulties integrating into the labour market in certain OECD countries, but the difficulties for migrant women can be compounded. This is particularly the case for highly qualified migrant women from non-OECD countries. In Germany, the employment rate of this group is 43% (compared to 60% for all highly qualified immigrant women, and 81% for native-born women with the same level of education). In New Zealand, although Chinese and Indian immigrant women are more likely to have a 6th form certificate (or higher) than the national average, they have higher levels of unemployment and lower incomes14 (Ministry of Health 2006).
Similar results are found in most receiving countries in the OECD, where foreign-born women have lower employment rates than their native-born counterparts. For example, in 2004 (with the exception of Norway, Portugal and Switzerland), less than 60% of immigrant women aged 15 to 64 had a job (OECD 2007). This gap in outcomes is partly attributable to the problems of recognising foreign qualifications, and their training generally, but also to factors such as the effect of attitudes and behaviours "imported" from the country of origin, and language problems (SOPEMI 2006). One of these attitudes relates to gender roles in the home, with British research showing that mothers born in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa are more likely to not be in paid work when their children are young (Vertovec 2006).
However, sometimes, women integrate more quickly into society and paid work than men. Research in the US has shown that many first-generation immigrant men from South America face downward social mobility by being forced to accept lower-skilled jobs and lower social status due to racism. However, their wives often experience upward social mobility because of their involvement in paid work and, along with this, increasing independence. In addition, as mothers they potentially connect more with local authorities (kindergarten, school, social services) and thus engage with the country of destination in a way that can foster faster integration. This is also reflected in the data that show women are more likely than men to become US citizens (Jones-Correa 1998). Perhaps linked with this, women tend to politically integrate faster than men. In the US it has been found that men tend to be active in ethnic organisations whose orientation is towards politics back home, whereas women engage in political activism that deals with issues in the destination area (Hardy-Fanta 1993).
When employed, immigrant women are more likely to be "over-qualified" for the job they do (i.e. there is a high proportion of women who, according to their education level, should be exercising a more skilled profession). This over-qualification is particularly pronounced for immigrant women from non-OECD countries (SOPEMI 2006). Similarly, the Longitudinal Study of Immigrants in Canada found that only 40% of skilled principal applicants who arrived in 2000/01 were working in the occupation or profession in which they were trained, and many immigrants with university degrees were working in jobs that usually required a high school education or less (Banting et al. 2007).
Although such obstacles are not necessarily restricted to immigrant women, the impact on immigrant women may be greater given the fields of work they tend to be concentrated in. Highly qualified immigrant women are over-represented relative to immigrant men in the fields of education, medicine, the arts and humanities. As Iredale (2004) notes, skilled migration is heterogeneous in its gender divisions, occupations and conditions of work. Men predominate among those moving within transnational corporations and in the Information Technology and Scientific sectors (OECD 2002). There are also gender implications for the accreditation and recognition of skills.
It can be a gendered demand structure that explains the dominance of a certain sex in specific migration streams. For example, 88% of the Green Card permits in Germany in 2000 were taken up by men (SOPEMI 2001); the vast majority were scientists from Eastern Europe, where there are almost as many women in the same profession (thus the gender imbalance does not necessarily already exist in the sending countries). According to a study carried out by the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Trust in New Zealand, skilled female migrants have been reported to be subject to ethnic/racial discrimination when seeking employment (Basnayake 1999).
Transitions Between Types of Migration
Migration is no longer seen as a one-off temporary or permanent movement. In 2005/06, 87% of migrants approved for residence had previously been in New Zealand on either a visitor, study or work permit (Merwood 2006). The linking of temporary immigration policy with residency policy can be beneficial to both migrants and New Zealand. Research by the Department of Labour has shown that migrants who have worked in New Zealand prior to gaining residence have positive employment outcomes after gaining residence (Dunstan et al. 2004). In fact, over 90% of skilled migrants (approved for residence onshore) had previously held either a work or student permit prior to gaining residence (Badkar 2006).
Equally, "permanent" migrants may not stay long term in New Zealand. While not considered in this paper, departures of permanent migrants will influence the gender balance of the stock of remaining migrants. Australian research suggests that gender may be important in these flows, with Hugo (2007) showing that between 1997/98 and 2005/06 males outnumber females with only 92 China-born females for every 100 China-born males departing.
A number of data sources were utilised in this study. First, to set the scene, some data from the 2006 Census are presented, followed by a brief comment about census undercount issues. The main part of the paper uses data from the Department of Labour’s immigration administrative database,15, 16 showing overall migration trends from 1997/98 to 2005/06 through the following streams: Skilled/Business, Family Sponsored and International/Humanitarian, as well as the shorter-term migration flows of students and temporary workers.
In terms of skilled migration, the research examines the number of female and male migrants who were principal applicants entering New Zealand from source countries that had the biggest number of migrants from the Skilled/Business streams as at 2005/06. These countries are Great Britain, South Africa, China, India, South Korea and the USA. Based on the sex ratios of overseas-born New Zealand residents (where the female-to-male ratio is markedly high), trends in female and male migrants from three more Asian nations (Thailand, the Philippines and Japan) are examined.
Following on from the trend results, the study also looked at differences in gender ratios by age groups (20–29 years, 30–39 years and 40–49 years) for the countries mentioned above. Some occupational and industry data are analysed at a broad level. This paper also examines the proportion of female and male migrants (principal applicants) who came into New Zealand as solo migrants (principal applicants) and with dependants (secondary applicants, which includes a partner and children).
In terms of temporary migration, the research looks at trends in the number of female and male migrants entering New Zealand as international students and as temporary workers from 2001/02 to 2005/06. We examine the same source countries as for the Skilled/Business stream.
Table 1 draws on 2006 Census data to show the overall sex ratios of New Zealand residents, as well as the ratios for the main level 1 ethnic groups.17 It shows that overall the ratios favour women in all five-year age groups from 20 to 49. However, Table 1 also shows that the ratio is highest among the Asian group in the over-30 age group. In particular, in the 35–39 age group, these census data indicate 37% more Asian women than men living in New Zealand. Comparing 2001 and 2006 Census data shows that the Asian population in the 20–49 age group grew by around 59%, or just over 70,000, in this five-year period. This increase is primarily due to migration, and therefore the data suggest a strongly gendered migration flow in some age groups.
Table 1 Ratio of Women to Men in Each Age and Ethnic Group, and Total Ethnic Counts, 2006
- Middle Eastern, Latin American and African ethnic groups.
- Includes those whose ethnicity is not stated.
The extreme ratios for Asians seen in the 30–34 and 35–39 age groups are primarily driven by overseas-born Asians. For example, in the 35–39 age group, the data show that 92% of Asians living in New Zealand were born overseas. Of the relatively small numbers born in New Zealand, the data show there were 11% more Asian women than men in 2006, but for those born overseas and in New Zealand less than five years there are 29% more Asian women, rising to 50% more women for those Asians born overseas but living in New Zealand more than five years.
Tables 2 and 3 are also based on 2006 Census data, but switch from ethnicity to country of birth data.18 Table 2 shows ratios for those born overseas and living in New Zealand for less than five years for the main Asian source countries. This table gives some indication of the recent net migration flows from the various countries.19 Table 3 shows the stocks of those who arrived in earlier migrations.
These tables mask a considerable amount of complexity, however. For instance, in terms of the age structure of the data in Table 2, 48% of those from China are in the 20–24 age group with only 10% in the 35–39 age group. In contrast, only 9% of those from the Philippines are in the 20–24 age group, but 24% are in the 35–39 group. As will be shown in the migration data, this primarily reflects differing streams of migration. Also, for Asian women there are some major differences in educational levels by country of origin. For example, in the 30–34 age group, of those women born in Thailand 28% had no formal qualifications whereas only 4% of women from the Philippines, 7% from China and 5% from Japan had no formal qualifications.20 In terms of degrees or higher qualifications in this age group, half of those women born in the Philippines held such qualifications, while the figure was only 26% for those women born in Japan. This compares with an overall figure of 29% of New Zealand women in this age group holding such qualifications. The high level of degrees among women from the Philippines is one indication that these women are generally not in New Zealand to undertake low-skilled domestic work.
However, despite this complexity, some broad patterns can be discerned. First, for those born overseas who have been in New Zealand less than five years, as well as those who have been in New Zealand more than five years, the main countries of origin from Asia are the same, India and China, particularly for the recent migrants. For those here longer than five years, places such as Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Vietnam are also important. This reflects changes in both push and pull factors for migration, such as the transfer of Hong Kong to Chinese control in 1997 and the strong outward migration at that time.
More directly related to the central focus of this paper, the ratios of women to men in the two groups of migrants have some similarities. In most age groups, for those who have come from the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Japan there are significantly more women than men. For several of the other countries there are more women than men in many age groups. India and Pakistan stand out in most (but not all) age groups in having more men than women living in New Zealand.
Table 2 Ratio of Women to Men, by Main Country of Birth, for Those Born Overseas and in New Zealand Less than Five Years, 2006
|Country||20–24||25–29||30–34||35–39||40–44||45–49||Total men and women 20–49|
Table 3 Ratio of Women to Men, by Main Country of Birth, for those Born Overseas and in New Zealand More than Five Years, 2006
|Country||20–24||25–29||30–34||35–39||40–44||45–49||Total men and women 20–49|
Undercount may help explain a small part of the gender differences within the Asian New Zealand census population. After each census a Post Enumeration Survey (PES) is carried out which helps to estimate the undercount. The 2006 PES found that the 2006 Census missed more males than females, as was also the case in the two previous surveys, with a net undercount of 2.1% for males and 1.8% for females. The net undercount was 1.4% for the European population, 3.1% for Ma-ori, 5.2% for the Asian population, and 2.3% for Pacific peoples. While higher for Asians, this is nowhere near high enough to explain the census differences, hence the interest in migration.
Overall patterns of migration in New Zealand are characterised by strongly increasing Skilled/Business migration, with smaller growth in Family Sponsored and International/Humanitarian migration (Badkar et al. 2006, Merwood 2006).
Overall Gender Ratios
The overall gender ratios differ by residence stream. For the Skilled/Business stream it is not surprising that men outnumber women. Figure 1 shows that the female-to-male ratio is 1:2 throughout the 1997/98 to 2005/06 period. This ratio is consistent with the responses received from the Settlement Experiences Feedback Survey, where 37% of the principal applicants were women and 67% were men (Badkar 2006). This pattern is similar when all Asian nationalities are considered, as shown in Figure 2. The main difference is that the gap between Asian women and men is closer post-2003/04, which can be attributed to the changes in policy.21
Conversely, the female-to-male ratio for the Family Sponsored stream remains high (1.2:1 in 1997/98 and 1.5:1 in 2005/06). In contrast, in the International/Humanitarian stream, male principal applicants outnumber female (0.6:1 in 1997/98 and 0.7:1 in 2002/03). However when all applicants are considered (this includes secondary applicants), the gender ratio is close to 1:1.
Although the proportion of female to male migrants for the Skilled/Business stream is low (1:2) throughout the 1997/98 to 2005/06 period, it is interesting to see how this trend varies by all Asian countries and specific Asian migrant source country.
Figure 1 Trends in Female and Male Migrants Entering New Zealand through the Three Residence Streams
Figure 2 Trends in Female and Male Migrants Entering New Zealand from Asia through the Three Residence Streams*
* This includes all Asian countries as defined in the Longitudinal Immigration Survey: New Zealand (LIS:NZ).
Skilled Permanent Migration
In this section we look at trends in migration for women and men entering New Zealand through the Skilled/Business streams. The six biggest migrant source countries as at 2005/06 were Great Britain, South Africa, China, India, South Korea and the USA.22 Although there can be strong year-to-year fluctuations, overall there has been a strong increase in principal applicant approvals between 1997/98 and 2005/06 in Skilled/Business migration from Great Britain, South Korea and the United States. There has been little overall change in migration from South Africa. Apart from a large increase of migrants from India in the middle period (2000/01 to 2002/03), overall there was relatively little change. In all these countries there have been more men than women entering New Zealand (as principal applicants) through the Skilled/Business stream.
The number of men and women from China increased exponentially from 1997/98 to 2001/02. The number of men gradually decreased in 2002/03 and more so in 2003/04, but increased again from 2004/05 to 2005/06. Their female counterparts increased slightly in 2002/03, decreased in 2003/04 and 2004/05 and then increased again in 2005/06. This pattern of Chinese migration flows is similar to that of the total Business Stream migrant population (see Figures 1 and 2). Although there were slightly more Chinese men than women, their overall female-to-male ratio is close to 1:1, suggesting a relatively equal number of Chinese women and men entering New Zealand during the 1997/98 to 2005/06 period. Reasons for the fluctuations include immigration policy changes in November 2002, which had a big impact on business migration (mainly affecting Chinese), and changes to the General Skills Category and Skilled Migrant Category.
With the exception of China, which provided relatively equal numbers of women and men migrants, all the other main source countries were dominated by men. Therefore, two additional Asian source countries (with higher female to male ratios) are examined. (A third country, Japan, has a similar pattern to China.) Among skilled migrants from the Philippines, females outnumber males for the 1997/98 to 2005/06 period by a ratio of 1.6:1. From 1997/98 to 2001/02 there was a considerable increase in female and male migrants from the Philippines. This declined between 2002/03 to 2003/04 and increased again during 2004/05 to 2005/06 (Badkar et al. 2006). Similarly, women from Thailand outnumbered men, and the average female-to-male ratio for the 1997/98 to 2005/06 period was 1.3:1. The number of female and male migrants from Thailand increased from 1997/98 to 2001/02, but dropped between 2002/03 and 2004/05. It is important to note the small numbers in the Thai group.
For the Asian countries with female-dominated flows, the imbalances can be found in all three of the 10-year age groups between 20 and 49. However, for the countries where the gender flows are nearly equal (Japan and China), the balance is more in favour of men in the older age bands but women in the younger age groups. It is possible that people migrating in the younger and older age groups are coming for different reasons, and may also have different attachment to family units. For the Asian countries which have had male-dominated flows (India and South Korea), again there is some complexity. For example, while numbers are small, there have been periods when more young Korean women have migrated to New Zealand than young Korean men (Badkar et al. 2006).
Principal Applicants Entering New Zealand: Solo and with Secondary Applicants
For Asian countries with female-dominated flows (the Philippines and Thailand), discrepancies can be seen in the proportion who migrate without secondary applicants (partner and/or children). For example, in 1999/2000 there were 138 women (principal applicants) from the Philippines. Of these, 57.2% were solo applicants and 42.8% had secondary applicants. Men from the Philippines were more likely to have secondary applicants as part of their residence application. While not a direct outcome of this stream of migration, but possibly earlier gendered migration, 2001 Census data show that in New Zealand, when partnered, a male from the Philippines is highly likely to have an Asian partner, whereas a partnered woman from the Philippines is far more likely to have a non-Asian partner (Callister et al. 2006). In contrast, the proportion of men and women from China with and without dependants was similar throughout the 1997/98 to 2005/06 period (Badkar et al. 2006).23
Occupations by Gender: Skilled Principal Applicants
Gendered migration may be more connected with the type of occupation the migrant is coming to New Zealand to work in rather than with the source country. For example, if skilled trade workers are being sought, this migration flow is likely to be male no matter what country they come from. Equally, for nurses, given that this is such a gendered occupation in all countries, most nurses migrating to New Zealand are likely to be female. However, there may be some differences within specific occupations by source country. For example, it may be that in some source countries there are a similar number of men and women qualifying as doctors, whereas in other countries medical training may still be male dominated.
Occupations in this analysis were classified according to the New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (NZSCO). Throughout the 2003/04 to 2005/06 period women dominated the Clerks and Technicians and Associate Professionals categories. Although men outnumbered women in the Professional category, the number of women in the Professional category increased by 64% between 2003/04 to 2005/06. Interestingly, results from the Settlement Experiences Feedback Survey show that women skilled migrants were more likely than men to be classified as Professional (40% and 28%, respectively).24 It is also important to note that within the Professional category, the number of women in the NZSCO major group of Life Science and Health Professional category significantly outnumbered men. When investigated further, women outnumbered men in the NZSCO minor group, with the majority of women in the Nursing and Midwifery professions (Badkar et al. 2006).25
In terms of Health Professionals (NZSCO minor group), there are some differences in the gender balance by country of origin. In the period 2003/04 to 2005/06 the highest ratio of female to male health professional migrants was from Great Britain (48% female), while lower ratios within country-specific sources were seen from South Africa (34% female), the United States (32% female) and India (19% female).
Differences in skills flow through to differences in occupations when country of birth is considered. For example, for those employed women aged 25 or older, 33% born in the Philippines were classified as professionals in 2006 as against just 9% from Thailand. For Filipino women this is higher than the overall 26% of employed women in this age group in New Zealand in professional occupations. A more detailed investigation of occupational group within Professionals shows some clustering within particular occupations. For example, 49% of these Filipino women were working as nurses – a much higher figure than for women from the other main Asian countries and higher than the overall 15% of New Zealand women professionals who worked as nurses. When specific occupations of Thai migrants are considered, areas that stand out are non-professional occupations, including those related to the food hospitality industry (café managers, chefs, waiters and kitchen hands) as well as sewing machinists and commercial cleaners. These census data indicate some heterogeneity in migration flows from within Asia.
Although men outnumbered women as international students and as temporary workers during 2001/02 to 2005/06 (Figure 3), the increase in the number of women on a temporary work permit was greater than for men, such that women increased by 79% and men by 60%. The decline in the number of international student permits was similar for both women and men (5% and 6%).
Figure 3 Trends in Female and Male Migrants Entering New Zealand as Temporary Migrants – Work and Student, 2001–2006
For those on student permits, the overall ratio is in favour of men (see Table 4), but there still are some important age differences within this broad age band. The 20–29 age group has by far the greatest number of students, and in this group the balance is strongly in favour of men.27 In contrast, in older age groups the ratio of students is in favour of women, but in these age groups the total numbers are relatively small. When compared with domestic students, the ratio for the local students is in favour of women in all age groups but, like the international students, with a much higher ratio of women to men in the older age groups.
The recent decline in the number of international students is mainly due to the drop in students from China (see Table 5). China, however, still remains New Zealand’s main source of international students (41,598 in 2002/03 to 26,661 in 2005/06) (Merwood 2006). There could be several reasons for this drop, the main ones being uncertainty over immigration policy changes, increased competition from Canada, Australia and the UK, high exchange rates making it more expensive to study in New Zealand, negative media reports, and issues of safety and student protection (Ho et al. 2007).
Table 4 Ratio of Female to Male International Students in the 20 Years and Older Age Groups, 2001–2006
Table 5 Number of International Students in the 20 Years and Older Age Groups, 2001–2006
* There are a significant number of foreign students under 20 that are not shown in this table.
Table 6 shows the main countries (including the main non-Asian countries) that students came from in the 20–29 age group between 2001 and 2006. As already noted, by far the largest source of students in this age group over this period was China, followed by South Korea. Table 6 shows that while the overall ratio of students was in favour of men, there are some quite major differences by country. In fact, when the whole period is considered, the higher numbers of males is primarily driven by students from China and India. Although the numbers are small in some countries, the ratio is in favour of women in all the other Asian countries that are shown.
Table 6 Ratio of Female to Male International Students Using Student Study Permits in the 20–29 Age Group, by Country of Origin, 2001–2006
Table 7 shows the gender ratios of those on temporary worker permits. The overall number of temporary workers and students over the whole period 2001 to 2006 is similar, at 381,595 workers and 394,372 students.26 But there are some differences in gender, country patterns and growth in each permit category. Table 7 shows that the overall ratio is again in favour of men, but unlike students, the bias in favour of men is strongest in the older age groups. In the 20–29 age group, the ratio is slightly in favour of women.
Table 7 Ratio of Female to Male Temporary Workers in the 20 Years and Older Age Groups, 2001–2006
When numbers of workers are considered in each age group, Table 8 shows that, like students, the largest numbers are in the younger age groups, but unlike students there are significant numbers in the 30–39 years age group. In contrast with student numbers, which grew to a peak in 2003/04, temporary workers have grown strongly over the whole period.
Table 7 Ratio of Female to Male Temporary Workers in the 20 Years and Older Age Groups, 2001–2006
When countries of origin of temporary workers are considered for the largest age group, 20–29 years, there is again some diversity (see Table 9). However, in the Asian countries shown, with the exception of India there are more women than men in the migration flows. This includes China, which is in contrast to the flows of students, which favour men. In terms of both numbers and ratio, the flows of women from Japan have been particularly strong. This can be attributed to the working holiday scheme between New Zealand and Japan, which seems to attract twice as many women as men.28
Table 9 Ratio of Female to Male Temporary Workers in the 20–29 Age Group, by Country of Origin, 2001–2006
Gender has long been an important factor in both international migration and migration into New Zealand. Despite this, in recent decades gender has not been a key issue when considering migration research or the development of policy making in New Zealand.
Historically, men have dominated flows into New Zealand, but a range of international studies suggests that, for a variety of reasons, women have now become critical players in the migration process, and a range of data sources indicate that women are a significant component of some migration flows into New Zealand. In particular, census data indicate an imbalance in the Asian ethnic group within the 25–49 age group that strongly favours women. Although previous research has shown that the gendered nature of recent migration from Asia is only a small contributing factor to the overall sex ratio differential within the New Zealand population, census data point to gendered migration being a key factor in the gender imbalances within the Asian population. Yet, when Department of Labour inward migration data is examined it is hard to reconcile the overall flows into New Zealand with the resulting strong imbalances between women and men. More research, including a better understanding of outward migration, is needed to determine the reasons for the census-based imbalances.
When gender, age, country of origin and migration stream are considered, much complexity within these overall flows is uncovered and instances of both male- and female-dominated flows become evident. For example, when skilled migration is considered, the flows from the Philippines, Thailand and to a lesser degree China and Japan are different to those of other migrant groups. When just Chinese temporary migration is considered, we find that student permits for young adults are strongly male dominated, but when temporary work visas are considered they become female dominated.
Although our preliminary research indicates some reasons behind female-dominated migration from particular countries (e.g. why female nurses migrating from the Philippines help create a strongly gendered flow from that country), little is still known about the general drivers of gendered migration to New Zealand, although it is clear these will include social and economic conditions in the country of origin as well as social and economic circumstances in New Zealand. We also know little about issues such as:
- How do gender inequalities in both the country of origin and in New Zealand affect the experiences of migrant men and women?
- To what extent, and in what ways, does migration benefit or disadvantage men and women?
- What, if any, steps need to be taken to ensure equal opportunities and outcomes for migrant men and women?
- How do international marriage markets influence gendered migration?
Some of these issues will be explored in a FRST-funded research project that commences in 2007, but there is wide scope for additional research.29
Finally, the data we have examined suggest that the gender, age and country of origin differentials in the short and long term will continue to be dynamic. Such flows will influence the size and composition of New Zealand’s population, as well as debates about diversity, social cohesion and New Zealand’s national identity.
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Early versions of this research were presented at the Labour, Employment and Work, Social Policy Research and Evaluation, and Population Association of New Zealand conferences. We are grateful for feedback from these presentations.
Juthika Badkar, Department of Labour, P.O. Box 3705, Wellington. Email: Juthika.Badkar@dol.govt.nz Tel: 04 915 4337
2 Following the lead of Boyd (2006), we use "gender" rather than "sex", as gender refers to the norms, behaviours, and expectations associated with being female or male.
3 The early section of the paper draws heavily on Callister et al. 2005, 2006.
4 As a comparison, in the peak age group of difference, 30–34, there were 11% more European women than men, 16% more Māori women and 14% more Pacific women in 2001.
5 While not directly focused on in this paper, the two largest countries in Asia, China and India, both have strong sex ratio imbalances in favour of men in the age groups we consider in this paper.
6 In 1921 there was a quota of 100 entry permits to New Zealand a year for Chinese, negotiated by the Chinese consul. In 1925 Chinese women were excluded from quota permits for Chinese entry.
7 Teachers include early childhood educators, secondary school teachers and university lecturers.
8 This includes legal marriage, de facto relationships and same-sex partnerships.
9 If the partner is skilled, they can apply through the Skilled/Business stream.
10 The International/Humanitarian stream includes a Pacific access category and a Samoan quota.
11 Protection: these are high-priority refugees who need protection from an emergency situation. They may also include refugees with immediate family in New Zealand who entered under a previous quota. Women at risk: these are women refugees alone and at risk in a refugee camp. They may or may not have dependent children. Medical/Disabled: these are refugees who either have a medical condition that cannot be treated in the country of origin and can be treated or helped in New Zealand, or have a disability that requires support.
12 http://www.web.net/~ccr/GBAresearch.pdf (Link no longer works - March 2012)
13 Students in formal tertiary education 1965–2005.
14 2001 Census data show that 75.5% of Chinese and 68.3% of Indian female migrants (non-New Zealand born) had a 6th form qualification or higher, compared to the national average of 48.1%. However, their unemployment rate was higher (6.0% and 7.6% respectively) than the national average (4.7%), and the proportion on an income of $20,000 or less was higher (68.7% and 58.1% respectively) than the national average (55.2%). Chinese and Indian immigrant men had similar outcomes to women.
15 Data from the census refers to ethnicity data; immigration data from the Department of Labour refers to nationality. Immigration data do not collect ethnicity.
16 In New Zealand it is not possible to directly link census data with immigration data. In contrast, in Australia it is now possible to link 2006 Census data with migration data (Hugo 2007).
17 Many of the foreign students may be captured in the census, and the students may also apply for permanent residence when they have completed their studies.
18 There is some overlap between Asian country of birth and Asian ethnicity, but not all of those from Asian countries record Asian ethnicity.
19 Note that someone may have migrated earlier to New Zealand but spent some period overseas and returned within the five-year period before the 2006 Census.
20 Overall, 2006 Census data show that overseas-born women in the age groups of interest are better educated than New Zealand-born women.
21 The Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) was introduced in December 2003.
22 For more detail on gender and skilled permanent migration, see Badkar et al. 2006.
23 In some other male-dominated migration sources, such as South Africa, a significant proportion of those migrating have dependants. This means that the overall gender balance of those migrating from this country is more even than in some countries where it is mainly single people migrating.
24 Ninety-four percent of both women and men were employed (working for pay or profit) at the time of the survey.
25 These occupations are on the Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL), so it is easier to get enough points through the Skilled Migrant Category.
26 The under-20-year-olds are not counted in this analysis. However, it is recognised that there are a significant number of fee-paying students under 20 years of age.
27 This includes those under 20.
28 New Zealand also has a working holiday scheme with Taiwan and Thailand.
29 The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST)-funded project Missing Men will explore some of these issues between 2007 and 2010.