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Australia's Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme (PSWPS): Development Impacts in the First Two Years

John Gibson () and David McKenzie ()

Working Papers in Economics from University of Waikato

Abstract: Australia launched the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme in August 2008. This program was designed to alleviate labor shortages for the Australian horticultural industry by providing opportunities for workers from Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and Vanuatu to undertake seasonal work. This paper presents an analysis of the development impacts of this program in the first two years, and compares them to those from New Zealand’s seasonal worker program in the same countries. The overall development impact of the scheme to date is small, since only 215 individuals participated in the program in the first two years. We examine the selection of these workers, finding they tend to come from poorer areas of Tonga, but within these locations, appear to be of average income levels, and indeed are similar in many respects to the workers going to New Zealand. We estimate the gain per participating household to be approximately A$2,600, which is a 39 percent increase in per-capita annual income in participating Tongan households. The aggregate impact to date is small, but the experience of New Zealand’s program shows that seasonal worker programs can potentially have large aggregate effects. Finally, we provide some evidence on worker’s opinions about the program.

Keywords: development impacts; seasonal migration; Pacific Islands (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O12 J61 F22 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-mig
Date: 2011-06-03
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