Migration, labour demand, housing markets and the drought in regional Australia

Migration, labour demand, housing markets and the drought in regional Australia

Boyd Hunter and Nicholas Biddle

Research Paper No. 49 — September 2011
Migration, labour demand, housing markets and the drought in regional Australia

This report explore the interactions between local labour demand and short-term and long-term mobility or, more correctly, migration. Given that the definition of drought is contested, sensitivity analysis was conducted using independent regional data. Census data for Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) throughout Australia were used to capture mobility between 2001 and 2006. The major social and economic costs and benefits of migration identified in recent censuses are used to explain the changing patterns of mobility within and between rural and metropolitan areas. These results are interpreted by reference to the standard human capital model of migration.

The "good news" from this report is that the net effect of drought on migration is small or insignificant in the short run. While analysts need to be mindful of the possible changes in the composition of the population in drought-affected areas, their research needs only to be suitably qualified.

Perhaps the most important effect of drought is on the increased stress it places on families who are adjusting to financial pressures generated by regional decline. The long-term fragmentation of families who send some of their number elsewhere to find work is unlikely to be sustainable in the long run, as families will grow apart to adjust to the new "permanent" reality. Of course, one cannot presume anything is permanent when it comes to the weather, and hence the effect of drought is intrinsically indeterminate and uncertain.

Authors and Acknowledgements

Boyd Hunter is a Senior Fellow and Nicholas Biddle is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, College of Arts and Social Sciences, Australian National University.

Publication details

Research Paper
No. 49
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, September 2011.
41 pp.
ISSN: 
1446-9871
ISBN: 
978-1-921414-48-0
Suggested citation:

Hunter, B., & Biddle, N. (2011). Migration, labour demand, housing markets and the drought in regional Australia (Research Paper No. 49). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

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