A new study by Macquarie University has found migrants in regional and rural Australia are doing better socio-economically than in the past, now earning similar levels of income to the Australian-born residents living in these regions.
The study by demographers Simon Massey and Nick Parr, published in the Journal of Population Research, found that recent migrants in regional and rural areas are more highly educated and skilled, compared to earlier migrants.
“This study reveals that the migrant population as a whole in regional and rural Australia is not experiencing significant socio-economic disadvantage, rather they now have attained strong employment outcomes” says Massey.
Migrants represent approximately a quarter of Australia’s total population. More likely to live in big cities, 83 per cent of the migrant population resides in major urban areas, with 53 per cent living in Sydney and Melbourne alone.
Over the past 16 years there have been a wide range of Government schemes introduced to encourage migration to regional and rural Australia. Previously, concerns have been raised as to whether there is enough opportunity in regional areas to support migrant communities. The results of this study suggest there are and that migrant populations have been able to access employment opportunities successfully.
According to the researchers migration can be viewed as a positive for regional and local economic development. “With continuing environmental and social criticisms of migration to big cities increasing migration to regional and rural areas could be the policy that reinvigorates communities and brings a new dynamism,” says Massey.
“Our results show broad similarities in employment between the migrant population and the Australian-born which indicate neither is being ‘left behind’ economically. In our view, these results bolster the case for increasing the proportion of migrant settlers going into these regions,” say Parr.