Economic correlates of Net Interstate Migration to the NT (NT NIM): an exploratory analysis

Dean Carson

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    This research examined relationships between economic conditions across Australia and rates of net interstate migration (NIM) to the Northern Territory (NT) since the late 1970s. The research is based on evidence that migration into and out of the NT is largely driven by economic factors, and an assumption that relatively advantageous economic conditions in the NT should therefore lead to increased in-migration and/or decreased out-migration. The research examined correlations between NT NIM and variables relating to employment, cost of living, state and national income, and residential property prices. The research included analysis of direct correlations between these variables and NT NIM, changes in these variables associated with ‘eras’ of positive and negative NIM, and the impact of changing differentials between NT economic conditions and conditions in other states and the ACT.

    - There have been strong links between housing costs, particularly in Sydney, and NT NIM. Lower housing costs in Sydney and Australian capital cities as a whole are associated with positive NT NIM. Lower housing costs outside of the NT may make it easier for migrants to take the risk of moving here, confident they can re-enter the housing market if the move to the NT turns out to be short-term;
    - Falling youth unemployment and increasing job availability in many states, but particularly the ‘peripheral’ states of Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania are linked to positive NT NIM. This suggests the presence of a national ‘peripheral migration system’ to which the NT is attached;
    - The NT tends to have positive NIM when its employment conditions are similar to those in other peripheral states, which suggests the NT does not necessarily benefit from having a competitive advantage over these states;
    - Relatively high cost of living in Australia may make people more likely to consider a move to, or to stay in, the NT because the NT is then not so disadvantaged by its usually higher cost of living;
    - Economic conditions within the NT appear to have limited impact on NT NIM, with higher housing costs and higher unemployment actually linked to positive NIM.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages12
    Specialist publicationResearch Briefs
    PublisherCharles Darwin University, The Northern Institute
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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