June 13th, 2024

New Zealand faces record net loss of citizens as more than 52,000 leave

New Zealand records a net migration loss of over 52,000 citizens, marking the highest exodus to date amid shifting global economic and labor conditions.

Despite the net loss of citizens, New Zealand experienced an overall net migration gain of 111,100.
Despite the net loss of citizens, New Zealand experienced an overall net migration gain of 111,100.

For the first time, the annual net migration loss of New Zealand citizens surpassed the 50,000 mark, reaching a new high of 52,500 in the year ending March 2024, according to data from Stats NZ. This marks a significant increase from the previous record of 44,400 set in February 2012.

The big picture:

  • The figures reflect a striking balance of 25,800 arrivals versus 78,200 departures of New Zealand citizens, resulting in a ratio where three citizens left for every one that returned. Over half of those who departed headed to Australia, underscoring a continuing trend of trans-Tasman migration.

Why it matters:

  • These migration patterns are influenced by various factors, including economic conditions, job market opportunities abroad, and immigration policies. The significant outflow of younger adults, particularly those aged 18–30, who traditionally drive these figures, points to a growing demographic trend of seeking opportunities outside of New Zealand.

Non-New Zealand citizens counterbalance:

  • Despite the net loss of citizens, New Zealand experienced an overall net migration gain of 111,100 during the same period, thanks to a substantial influx of 163,600 non-New Zealand citizens, primarily from India, the Philippines, China, and Fiji.

Driving the news:

  • This migration gain among non-New Zealand citizens comes after the gradual easing of COVID-19 border restrictions and changes to immigration settings, reflecting a dynamic shift in the country's demographic landscape.

What’s next:

  • The ongoing trends suggest a possible reassessment of immigration policies and economic strategies to retain and attract talent, ensuring the country's needs align with global mobility patterns.