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Survey of Dynamics and Motivation for Migration in New Zealand: March 2007 quarter
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  01 October 2007
Commentary

Introduction

In the March 2007 quarter, Statistics New Zealand undertook the first nationwide Survey of Dynamics and Motivations for Migration in New Zealand. The survey investigates what motivates some people to move from one house to another, from one part of New Zealand to another, or to and from New Zealand, and what motivates people to stay where they are.

The survey results form a basis for understanding and explaining why people choose to move, or choose to remain in a particular area, and the factors that influence their decisions to shift. The survey also provides insights into some of the reasons why people are attracted to, disaffected by, or attached to where they live. It identifies information about people’s intentions about moving, including reasons for planning to move or planning not to move. This information will fill a gap in knowledge about the drivers and motivations of internal migration in New Zealand.

The survey was run as a supplement to the quarterly Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). All respondents in the household within the scope of the HLFS were given the opportunity to take part in the Survey of Dynamics and Motivations for Migration in New Zealand.

Population of movers and non-movers

There were an estimated 829,500 people who moved at least once during the two years before the March 2007 quarter. This is 25.8 percent of the total estimated survey population (3,213,800). The majority of the population, 70.5 percent (2,264,600), stayed at the same usual residence and the remaining 3.7 percent (119,600) moved to New Zealand from overseas during the previous two years.

Demographic characteristics of movers and non-movers

Age and sex

The age structure of the movers is markedly younger than the age structure of the population who have not moved. Of those who moved within New Zealand, about one third (32.9 percent) were aged 20 to 29 years. The most common age group was 20–24 years, with 17.9 percent of the movers within New Zealand. The population moving to New Zealand from overseas also had a younger age structure than the non-moving population. Most frequently, movers from overseas were aged 25–29 years, followed by those aged 20–24 and 30–34 years.

As a contrast, the non-movers had a much older age structure; about two-thirds (67.8 percent) of this population were aged between 30 and 69 years. 

Graph, Distribution of Movers and Non-movers by age group.  

In the population of non-movers, there is a slightly higher proportion of females (51.7 percent) than in the total survey population (51.4 percent). This reflects the higher number of females in the older age groups, that are less likely to have moved. However, of the movers from overseas, a smaller proportion is female (47.8 percent).

Birthplace

About one quarter (26.3 percent of the overseas-born population and 25.6 percent of New Zealand-born population) moved within New Zealand. However, 10.0 percent of the overseas-born population moved from overseas, compared with 1.7 percent for the New Zealand-born population.

Ethnicity

Almost half (44.8 percent) of the 'other' ethnic group moved at least once within New Zealand, or from overseas, during the previous two years. The 'other' ethnic group, which includes people of Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American and African ethnicities, recorded 11.0 percent of its population as moving from overseas. The Māori ethnic group had the largest proportion of movers within New Zealand (34.3 percent) and the lowest proportion of movers from overseas (1.5 percent). People of European ethnicities were least likely to have moved, with 26.5 percent moving within New Zealand or from overseas during that time. For people of Pacific ethnicities, 28.8 percent had moved within New Zealand and 4.7 percent from overseas.

Graph, Distribution of Movers and Non-movers, by ethnic group.

Marital status

Of movers within New Zealand, 42.9 percent recorded being never married, or separated. Since movers have a much younger age structure, it is expected that a bigger proportion of this population would have never been married. By contrast, only 28.4 percent of non-movers had never been married or were separated. People who had not moved in the previous two years were more likely to be married (58.8 percent), or divorced or widowed (12.9 percent) than people who moved within New Zealand (51.0 and 6.1 percent, respectively).

Living arrangements

People who moved are more likely to have had a change in living arrangements compared with people who have not moved. Among people currently living as a couple, movers were less likely than non-movers to have lived with the same person at the time of the move (88.2 percent within New Zealand and 85.6 percent from overseas). Almost all the non-movers were living with the same person two years ago (97.8 percent). Those who did not live with the same person at the time of the move were most likely to not have lived as part of a couple at the time (90.6 percent of movers within New Zealand who were not living as a couple at the time of the move).

Among movers currently not living as a couple, larger proportions of movers within New Zealand and from overseas were living as part of a couple at the time of the move (13.3 and 12.3 percent, respectively). Among non-movers currently not living as a couple, only 6.6 percent were living as part of a couple two years ago.

Income and other characteristics of movers and non-movers

Income

About half of both movers within New Zealand and non-movers (51.9 and 51.6 percent, respectively) had an income of $30,000 or less. However, a larger proportion of non-movers had income between $10,001 and $20,000 (22.1 percent), when compared with people who moved within New Zealand (17.2 percent) or from overseas (11.4 percent). By contrast, a bigger proportion of movers within New Zealand have income ranging from $20,001 to $50,000 (41.0 percent) compared with non-movers (35.2 percent).

Graph, Gross Income for Movers and Non-movers.

The most common income range for those who moved from overseas in the previous two years was zero income or a loss (16.9 percent). Many of those were students. The next most common range was $20,001 to $30,000 (14.1 percent), which was also the most frequent income for movers within New Zealand (15.0 percent) and non-movers (12.6 percent).

More than half (58.5 percent) of those who moved within New Zealand in the previous two years stated that their income was about the same as before their last move. About half (49.6 percent) of movers from overseas stated that their income decreased. Non-movers mostly stated their income was about the same (46.6 percent), but this was followed closely by those who had an increase in income (40.6 percent) compared with two years ago.

Of the movers within New Zealand who increased their income, about two-thirds stated that the increase was not a result of the move (66.6 percent). Close to half of those who had not moved and had an increased income stated this was a result of not moving (46.6 percent).

Employment status

Among non-movers there was a larger proportion than for movers who were not employed and were not seeking paid work, including retired people (34.1 percent). For movers within New Zealand it was 24.5 percent and for movers from overseas, 29.9 percent. Correspondingly, movers within New Zealand were more likely to be working for pay or profit (69.2 percent) than non-movers (63.2 percent) and those who moved from overseas (62.3 percent).

Graph, Distribution of Movers and Non-movers, by employment status.

The population moving to New Zealand from overseas within the previous two years had the highest proportion of people who were not employed but seeking paid work (7.8 percent), compared with 6.3 percent of movers within New Zealand and 2.7 percent of non-movers.

Occupation

All three mover categories have a large proportion of their populations in the professionals and service and sales workers occupation groups. The highest proportion of movers within New Zealand stated their occupation as service and sales workers (18.4 percent), whereas the largest proportion of non-movers stated their occupation as professionals (16.2 percent). The majority of movers from overseas (30.2 percent) gave occupations belonging to the professionals occupation group.

Region of residence

Among the 12 grouped regions, Canterbury had the highest proportion of their population moving at least once within New Zealand in the previous two years (29.5 percent), followed by Wellington region (26.6 percent) and Southland (26.5 percent). These were all higher than the national figure (25.5 percent).

Northland had the largest proportion not moving (77.5 percent), significantly higher than the national figure (70.7 percent). Of the Auckland region’s population, 5.6 percent moved from overseas in the previous two years – this was the highest proportion for any region.

Number of homes and length of stay

Most frequently, movers have had five or more homes in the last 10 years, 42.0 percent for those within New Zealand and 37.0 percent for those from overseas. Among non-movers, the majority (45.4 percent) have had one home during the last 10 years (45.4 percent), and a further 26.4 percent have had two homes.

The majority of those who moved within New Zealand during the previous two years had lived at their previous home for less than a year (30.4 percent); 22.7 percent had lived between one and two years at their previous home (22.7 percent).

Of people who moved to New Zealand from overseas, 40.3 percent had lived for more than 20 years in their previous country, and 15.1 percent between 10 and 20 years. A significant proportion of this population had been at their current residence for less than a year (81.8 percent).

Main reasons for moving or not moving

Main reason for moving from previous usual residence

Movers within New Zealand gave a variety of reasons for moving away from their previous usual residence. Nearly one third (32.0 percent) of the main reasons stated were economic in motivation. The most common main reason was the purchase or construction of a house (13.8 percent of movers who did state a main reason). A further 7.2 percent stated that their lease or rental tenure had expired, or notice had been given by their landlord, and 3.9 percent gave sale of their house as the main reason.

 Graph, Main Reason for Moving from Previous Usual Residence.    Graph, Main Reason for Moving to Current Usual Residence.

Social motivators were also important reasons for leaving, with 22.5 percent of all main reasons. Setting up home independently (4.2 percent) and moving with others who were moving (3.8 percent) were common reasons. Moving to live with a spouse or partner was the main reason given by 23,700 people (3 percent).

Housing played a part in motivating people to move, with the main reason being that their previous dwelling was too small (8.4 percent). There were also a range of employment reasons given, including living closer to their workplace (2.5 percent), moving away to start a new job (2.2 percent), and for better employment, career, or business opportunities (2.2 percent).

Main reason for moving to current usual residence

Social motivators (21.7 percent) were the most common reasons for all movers choosing to live at their current usual residence. Within this category, living closer to others (6.8 percent) and living with others (5.0 percent) were the two major reasons provided.

Environmental reasons were also common, with 21.1 percent of all main reasons provided. In particular, movers chose their current usual residence because of better or closer services and facilities (6.7 percent of main reasons), and the suitability of the suburb, town, city, or region (4.9 percent).

The most common single main reason for choosing the current usual residence was moving to more affordable housing (cheaper to rent or own), which was the main reason for 10.1 percent of movers. This was the major economic motivator. Other movers chose their current home for employment reasons – the majority in order to live closer to their workplace (9.5 percent). This suggests that the characteristics of the area, including proximity to work, were important factors in deciding where to live.  

Main reason for moving to New Zealand

Social factors were important main reasons for people who moved to New Zealand in the previous two years. Living closer to other people (8.8 percent), living with other people (5.7 percent) and wanting to raise children in New Zealand (5.4 percent) all contributed to this.

Graph, Main Reason for Moving to New Zealand.

A large number of people returned to New Zealand after spending time overseas (14.4 percent). This made up the majority of the ‘other’ category and was the most common main reason for moving to New Zealand. The most frequent educational reason was for their own education (12.2 percent of people stating a main reason). This reflects the presence of international students in the New Zealand.

Economic and housing reasons were not significant motivators for moving to New Zealand. Political and cultural factors were also not major motivators, with 2.4 percent of all main reasons given.

Main reason for not moving from usual residence

Environmental factors were the largest group of reasons for not moving in the previous two years (26.8 percent of all main reasons given). In particular, non-movers were satisfied with the availability/proximity of services (6.7 percent), their suburb, town, city, or region (6.0 percent), and their current lifestyle or quality of life (3.9 percent).

Graph, Main Reason for Not Moving from Usual Residence.

Many people had social reasons for not moving (19.7 percent). Most people in this category stated that they wanted or needed to live with or close to their family (12.7 percent of all main reasons stated). The main employment reason given was that the non-mover’s current home was close to their workplace (8.1 percent).

This indicates that the key motivations for people to remain at their current home are related to the proximity of services, workplace, and other family members. It is worth noting that 6.6 percent stated that they were happy in their current dwelling or location, and were not moving for this reason.

Level of satisfaction with current living conditions

Movers

For all movers, 85.7 percent stated that their overall living conditions were either better or much better than before they moved. Only 3.9 percent of movers rated their overall living conditions to be worse or much worse than before.

Graph, Movers' Level of Satisfaction at Current Usual Residence.

Movers were the most satisfied with their housing. Over half the movers (59.1 percent) rated their current housing as much better or better than before they moved. However, housing also had the highest dissatisfaction rating, with 13.8 percent of movers rating their housing either worse or much worse than before they moved. More than half the movers (55.0 percent) considered their outdoor environment to be better or much better than before they moved .

Movers who provided satisfaction ratings of employment opportunities were most likely to rate these as being about the same as before their move (60.4 percent). Note that these ratings exclude people who are not seeking employment, for example people who are not looking for work, retired, or at home looking after children. Ratings of social life, compared with before the move, also indicated that a majority were rated as being about the same (52.1 percent).

Non-movers

Overall, 93.7 percent of respondents who had not moved were satisfied or very satisfied with their living conditions. In particular, non-movers were very satisfied with their housing conditions (47.0 percent), outdoor environment (45.0 percent) and social life (43.3 percent).

Graph, Non-movers' Level of Satisfaction at Current Residence.

With the exception of employment, the level of dissatisfaction was low and quite similar across the different aspects. The level of dissatisfaction with employment opportunities (8.8 percent were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied) was more than double the dissatisfaction level of any other rating. Note that these ratings exclude people who are not seeking employment.

Population planning or not planning to move

The survey collected information on whether people are likely to move from their current usual residence or not within a two-year period. There was an estimated population of 553,200 who were planning to move, representing 17.3 percent of the total specified survey population (3,190,000). The majority of the population (58.7 percent) stated they were not planning to move, 16.3 percent stated they were thinking about it but not sure, and 7.6 percent that they did not know whether a move was planned within the next two years.

 Graph, Distribution of Movers and Non-movers Planning to Move.    Graph, Main Reason for Planning to Move from Current Usual Residence.

The majority of each of the populations of movers and non-movers (in the previous two years) was not planning to move within the next two years. However, movers from overseas were more likely to be planning to move (34.5 percent) than movers within New Zealand (26.1 percent) and non-movers (13.3 percent).

Wellington region has the highest proportion of people planning to move (20.9 percent), whereas Otago has the lowest proportion (12.8 percent). In Auckland region, just over a half (54.2 percent) of the population stated that they were not planning to move, the lowest percentage for any region. However, a large proportion of people living in Auckland region were thinking about moving or did not know (28.1 percent), and similarly for people living in Otago (27.8 percent). About two-thirds of Southland's population were not planning to move (67.8 percent), the highest percentage for any region.

Destination and timing of planned move

The majority of the population who were planning to move within the next two years intended to stay within the same city, town or area they currently lived in (58.7 percent). Just 19.7 percent of this population intended to move elsewhere in New Zealand, and 15.8 percent were planning to move overseas.

The population who were planning to move planned to do so within a short time; about one third (34.1 percent) were planning to move within six months and 60.5 percent within the coming year. A further 28.9 percent were planning to move in one to two years time.

Main reason for planning to move from current usual residence

Nearly one quarter (23.3 percent) of all the main reasons for planning to move were economic. In particular, the most frequent reason was the intention to purchase (or had already purchased) or build a dwelling (10.0 percent).

Employment factors were also motivating decisions in planning to move – 7.7 percent intended to move for better employment, career, or business opportunities. Location reasons were also important – 2.3 percent would like to live closer to their workplace, and 3.3 percent would like to live closer to other people.

Social motivations were also important – 6.0 percent planned to move to set up home independently. Housing-specific reasons were also motivating decisions to move; 6.9 percent of people planned to move because their current dwelling was too small. It is worth noting a significant proportion were planning to move because they simply wanted a change (4.6 percent).

Further information and results

This release provides analysis of the main survey results and is only intended as a summary of the available information. An additional set of tables providing further survey results will be released by the end of 2007 on the Statistics New Zealand website (www.stats.govt.nz). Analysis of results at a more detailed level, or at a multi-variable level, will be available at a later date.

For technical information contact:
Kirsten Nissen
Christchurch 03 964 8700
Email: demography@stats.govt.nz

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