Thursday, 26 March 2009

Foreign labour in New Zealand

Recently there has been some, but as TVHE point out surprisingly little, discussion of moves to place restrictions on the use of foreign labour in New Zealand now that we are in a recession. The guys at TVHE have written on this, see here, here, here, here, here and here. Not PC has commented here along with Eric Crampton who comments here, Nigel Kearney who comments here and Brad Taylor who writes here. Bill Bennett discusses here. Casey Mulligan in the US comments here.

From an economics point of view this issues seems to me to be a no brainer. You pick the best person for the job, the most productive, and where they come from is irrelevant. Why people wish to decrease the productivity of New Zealand firms-which amounts to decreasing New Zealand's wealth-by forcing firms owners to use less productive inputs I can't workout. But there seems to be bipartisan support for placing restrictions on foreign workers coming into New Zealand. Apart from the odious xenophobia that seems to lie behind these moves such restrictions don't make economic sense. What they amount to is a "Buy New Zealand" campaign for labour. "Buy New Zealand" campaigns are a waste of time for good and services so why people think they are a good idea for labour is somewhat baffling. I guess both main parties feel there are votes in xenophobia but that really isn't a good look.

No comments: