Responding to Negative Public Attitudes towards Immigration through Analysis and Policy: regional and unemployment dimensions

Kate Golebiowska, Amani Elnasri, Glenn Withers

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    This paper examines two key dimensions of the impact of immigration for Australia and related policy aspects. One is sub-national and the other is national. They are, first, the regional location aspects of immigration and, second, the aggregate unemployment implications of immigration. These are chosen so as to focus on two important issues that condition public attitudes towards immigration. In relation to the first, there is a common positive view that channelling migration towards regional areas assists regional development and reduces pressure on metropolitan areas. The paper reviews regional concepts embodied in Australian immigration policy and the ways in which visa arrangements have implemented policies geared towards the regional dispersal of immigrants. Using official data, it discusses the demographic impacts of these policies and, in particular, considers the extent to which immigrants to regional Australia remain there over the longer term. In relation to unemployment, a common concern is that immigrants take jobs from local workers. The paper examines—using statistical regression methodology—the relationship between immigration and national aggregate unemployment in Australia. It evaluates the net consequences of immigration for both existing residents and new arrivals together. The paper concludes that, with good policy design in each case, regional location encouragement can be effective for immigrants and that immigrants need not take more jobs than they create. The analysis demonstrates that mixed-methods approaches to important social science issues can be productive, and helpful also for policy. Evidence, such as that presented in this paper, offers a powerful basis from which to counter negative public and political discourses surrounding immigration in contemporary Australia.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)435-453
    JournalAustralian Geographer
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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