OECD: Findings on the effects of migration on Australia’s economy

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In 2021, the Centre for Population partnered with the OECD to investigate the impacts of migration on Australia’s economy. This partnership resulted in four OECD research papers that were released incrementally between early 2023 and early 2024:

This research used unit‑level data from the ABS’s Person Level Integrated Data Asset (PLIDA), allowing for more granular findings in the Australian context than research to date.

The OECD has summarised the project and its key findings in its Policy Highlights note. Its key findings are:

  • In 2019, Australia had the highest share of migrants* in the OECD after Luxembourg, at 30 per cent of the population. This was more than twice the OECD average (14 per cent).
  • Migrants boost the labour productivity of Australian‑born workers. On average, a region with a 10 per cent larger migrant share (e.g., 33 per cent instead of 30 per cent) has a 1.3 per cent larger regional wage difference, which indicates a positive link between migration and labour productivity.
  • Migration boosts the employment of the Australian‑born population and does not affect its wages. A 1 percentage point rise in the annual migrant inflow (measured as share of the total population), on average, leads to a 0.53 per cent increase in the employment of the Australian‑born population. Australian‑born people of all skill levels, ages or genders benefit from this positive effect.
  • Migration boosts patenting in Australia. On average, a one percentage point increase in the regional employment share of higher‑educated migrants (those with at least a college degree) relative to total employment leads to a 4.8 per cent rise in regional patent applications in the medium run (5 years). There is no effect of migration on trademarks or design rights applications.

*Note: The OECD refers to migrants as all those born overseas.