Moving for business or pleasure?

Do people choose to move to locations with better quality of life or better quality of business? Moving. Photo: Mike Bird from Pexels.

A new study from Motu Economic and Public Policy Research for the Building Better Homes, Towns, and Cities National Science Challenge uses a deep-dive analysis of census rent and wage data to look at whether people choose to move to locations with better quality of life or better quality of business.

Migrants are defined as ‘domestic’ if they lived in New Zealand five years ago and ‘international’ if they were not living in New Zealand. The international category therefore includes migrants who were new to New Zealand and New Zealanders returning home after living overseas.

Locations with a high quality of life attract migrants from other urban areas, but do not attract international migrants. Locations with a high quality of business do not attract domestic (urban or rural) migrants, but do attract international migrants.

“A one standard deviation increase in a location’s quality of business is estimated to increase international migration into that location by approximately one-third, while raising domestic residents’ migration out of that location by approximately one-fifth,” says programme leader Dr Arthur Grimes.

The attractiveness of quality of business holds even when we control for the way that international migrants move to big ‘gateway’ cities on first arrival.

People aged between 30 and 59 who’ve lived in New Zealand for five years tend to leave big cities where there is high quality of life and/or high quality of business and go to smaller places with even higher quality of life.

“From a local government perspective, when city officials are deciding between a port that helps business or a concert hall, they are implicitly choosing the type of migrant that they attract as well as the type of city that may result,” said Dr Grimes.

Summary haiku

and local urban migrants
differ in their tastes.

The study, “The contrasting importance of quality of life and quality of business for domestic and international migrants”, received funding from the Better Homes, Towns and Cities National Science Challenge and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

For further information please contact Arthur Grimes, Email:

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Date posted: 26 July 2019