Every One Counts
It's official: talented, successful Kiwis in every corner of the globe
Kea New Zealand's global census, Every One Counts, has discovered a large group of highly talented and engaged Kiwi expats around the world. The online survey connected with more than 29,000 New Zealanders living in 155 countries.
"'The world's greatest travellers are making New Zealand one of the most globally connected nations on earth," says Ross McConnell, Chief Executive of Kea New Zealand.
Kea's online survey, the largest of its kind ever conducted from New Zealand, kicked off at the same time as New Zealand's official Census in early March. Every One Counts aims to learn more about the hundreds of thousands of Kiwis living overseas.
What did the survey find?
The Every One Counts survey received 18,000 responses from expatriate New Zealanders. The survey also captured information on 11,000 spouses and children of respondents - bringing the total reach of the Every One Counts initiative to over 29,000 expatriate Kiwis. Download the full survey results (pdf, 69Kb).
Among the key characteristics of the survey respondents are:
- More than 30% of respondents aged 25-44 years earn more than $NZ100,000 per year, which would put them in the top 3% of income earners in New Zealand, according to the 2001 Census.
- Over 80% of respondents have tertiary qualifications, compared with 35% of the adult New Zealand population, according to the 2001 Census.
These results reinforce OECD research (1) suggesting that New Zealand's expatriate community is more significant in both size and talent than almost any other developed country.
- Three-quarters of expats in the survey have parents or siblings in New Zealand, and more than half say they maintain strong connections with friends or family back home.
- More than half of expats in the survey maintain some kind of economic connection with New Zealand.
"It is clear that our expats are a talented and successful group - and that they generally retain strong ties to home," says Ross McConnell. "It is easy to see that our expat communities have a significant stake in New Zealand's future."
Every One Counts also reveals the complex interests and diverse loyalties that affect expats' connections with New Zealand. The expats in the sample seem socially engaged with New Zealand through family and friends, yet relatively detached economically and politically:
1. One fifth of expats surveyed have been overseas for 10 years or more.
2. A high proportion of respondents have formed deep attachments overseas:
- One-third of expat New Zealand citizens surveyed also have citizenship of a second country.
- Over half of their spouses or partners are not New Zealand citizens.
- Over two-thirds of their children either do not have New Zealand citizenship or have another citizenship as well.
3. Among those who consider themselves New Zealand expatriates are about 6% of respondents who first migrated to New Zealand and then moved to another country.
Alan Gamlen, a New Zealand doctoral student researching the Kiwi diaspora at Oxford University, comments:
"In general, the expatriates in this sample have many social connections but significantly fewer economic and political connections to New Zealand. These expatriates' social lives are spread across borders and reach back into New Zealand, but their economic and political lives seem grounded in the locations where they work and live. These findings may have implications for the way New Zealand develops and manages its relationships with expatriates."
Expatriates' divided loyalties show up in their mixed intentions on returning permanently to New Zealand:
1. About half of the respondents plan to return to New Zealand permanently at some point, but 60% of those say they won't be home for at least five more years.
2. Fully one quarter of respondents are uncertain about whether they will return permanently to New Zealand, and almost another 18% say they're unlikely ever to return to live in New Zealand.
3. More than 40% of the expats in the survey are living overseas for economic reasons, such as a specific job offer or general career prospects overseas.
By contrast, only 3% of those who expect to return say they will do so primarily for economic reasons. Instead, family and lifestyle considerations are the top reasons for intending to return.
4. The citizenship of spouses and children strongly influence an expat's intentions on returning to New Zealand:
- Surveyed expats with a non-New Zealand spouse are barely half as likely (37% versus 63%) to be planning to return to New Zealand permanently.
- When their children are not New Zealand citizens, respondents are only about one-third as likely to return to New Zealand as when the children are only New Zealand citizens (about 9% versus about 25%).
"It is plain that many expats simply aren't coming home. But they can still have a role in New Zealand's future," Ross McConnell observes. "Many 'permanent expats' are fabulously talented and connected in overseas markets, and express deep commitment to New Zealand. This goodwill creates the opportunity to keep them engaged and contributing."
For example, comments such as these were common from survey respondents:
"A big drawback for me ... is the lack of job opportunities in my field [in New Zealand] which match those available to me here. But I miss home. I miss my family. New Zealand is always in my heart."
- London-based Kiwi
"Although I live and work in Australia, I am Kiwi to the core and will never support the Wallabies! ... Work and family commitments currently prevent me from moving back, but [I] would like to return someday soon."
- Kiwi MBA graduate in Perth
What happens next?
Every One Counts will deliver long-term benefits to New Zealand's understanding of its expat community.
"With the continued support of our partners, we hope to run a similar initiative at least every five years to coincide with the official New Zealand Census," says Ross McConnell. "That way, we can both enhance our survey's reach and develop a dynamic picture of how New Zealand's expat community changes over time.
"Our national challenge is to ensure that expats' affection for New Zealand is converted into real connections that benefit our country - regardless of where those expats choose to live in the long term," Ross McConnell says.
"The high level of engagement of many expat Kiwis with New Zealand is a powerful starting point."
Kea New Zealand is an example of 'brain circulation networks" that have been discussed and promoted by the World Bank, which says that expat networks can be a strong counterbalance to fears about a "brain drain" (2) Scotland's government funded Global Scot; Advance is an Australian expat organisation based in North America; TIE is a global entrepreneurs' network for India.
"Perhaps the greatest aspect of Every One Counts is that more than three-quarters of respondents have asked Kea to 'stay in touch'. This will help them to maintain better connections with the country and, if they wish, contribute actively to New Zealand's future," Ross McConnell says.
The data from Every One Counts will be available to academic researchers, who see great potential in the survey's ability to add depth to existing knowledge.
Kea itself will use data from Every One Counts to help inform future engagement with New Zealand's expatriate community. Kea already provides an online search function - www.keanewzealand.com - enabling expatriate Kiwis to find and connect with each other. An online collaboration centre, enabling expats to engage interactively and autonomously on the projects and topics of their choice, is expected to be announced in a few weeks.
Plans are also well advanced for Kea's Global Talent Centre - a new service targeting the recruiting and employment market, that aims to connect international talent with career opportunities in New Zealand.
Every One Counts was supported by a range of partners and sponsors from the public and private sector.
The survey relies in part on previous research by the New Zealand Talent Flow Programme at Massey University.
The survey was developed with technical assistance and advice from Robert Didham of Statistics New Zealand; Paul Callister, Senior Research Fellow at Victoria University's Institute of Policy Studies; and Alan Gamlen, a DPhil student at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford in the UK.
Messrs Didham, Callister and Gamlen also contributed generously to Kea's analysis of the data, as did Prof Richard Bedford, Convenor of the Migration Research Group at Waikato University.
"Kea New Zealand's Every One Counts is an initiative that promises to reveal much about New Zealand's diaspora - one of the developed world's largest on a per capita basis. New Zealand is the OECD country with the largest per capita rate of immigration; it is also the one with the highest rate of emigration. A lot is known and said about the immigrants in our midst; not much is known about the emigrants. The Every One Counts database will assist us to understand much more about our diaspora and, through this, important issues such as the potential for return migration in future years".
- Prof Richard Bedford, Convenor, Migration Research Group, Waikato University
"Diasporas hold huge interest throughout the world, and this can only increase as the global competition for skilled and family migrants starts to bite. Every One Counts provides information that illuminates the dynamics of this important part of our population - both as a potential source of return migrants, and as a largely untapped offshore resource for the global exchange of ideas and resources."
- Dr Robert Didham, Demographic Analyst, Statistics New Zealand
"We know that New Zealand has a very high proportion of its population overseas - but once they have left our shores we have known little about where they are, what they are doing, who their partners are, how connected they feel to New Zealand and whether they plan to return home. This unique survey provides a rich new information source on our expat population."
- Paul Callister, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies, Victoria University of Wellington
"Scholarship and policy-making on the New Zealand diaspora have been blocked for years by lack of data. Every One Counts is the most detailed map of the Kiwi diaspora attempted until now. A generation of researchers will find it indispensable for their explorations."
- Alan Gamlen, DPhil student, Centre on Migration, Policy & Society University of Oxford, UK
1. Jean-Christophe Dumont (OECD) and Georges Lematre, Counting Immigrants and Expatriates in OECD Countries: A New Perspective, OECD, Social, Employment and Migration Working papers, summary published 2005. This study found that among developed countries New Zealand has the highest proportion (24%) of its skilled workforce living outside the country, and that New Zealand is second among developed countries for expats holding tertiary degrees.
2. Yevgeny Kuznetsov, Senior Economist, Knowledge for Development Program, World Bank Institute, November 2005.