New Zealand's new Recognized Seasonal Employer (RSE) program allows Pacific Islanders to seasonally migrate to New Zealand to work in horticulture and viticulture for up to seven months at a time.
This sort of seasonal work policy is increasingly recommended by international aid agencies as a way for both developed and developing countries to benefit from migration, by allowing workers to send remittances home and gain new skills, without the source country losing the worker permanently and the receiving country facing long-term assimilation costs.
Since evidence on the development impact of seasonal worker programs is scarce we are carrying out surveys in Tonga and Vanuatu of households with RSE migrants, households where people applied to the RSE but were not recruited, and households where no one applied to the RSE. These surveys were carried out prior to the first workers leaving for New Zealand and again while the worker was away.
This research is supported by the World Bank, the New Zealand Department of Labour and the Labour Ministries in both Tonga and Vanuatu.
Published papers and working papers
Australia's Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme (PSWPS): Development impacts in the first two years Asia Pacific Viewpoint 52(3): 361-370 (2011). John Gibson and David McKenzie. Ungated version here
How do Pacific island households and communities cope with seasonally absent members? Evidence from Tonga and Vanuatu on early effects of New Zealand's Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) program Pacific Economic Bulletin 24(3): 19-38 (2009). Halahingano Rohorua, John Gibson, David McKenzie and Pilar Garcia Martinez.
How Pro-Poor is the Selection of Seasonal Migrant Workers from Tonga under New Zealand's Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Program? Pacific Economic Bulletin 23(3): 187-204 (2008). John Gibson, David McKenzie and Halahingano Rohorua.
Who is coming from Vanuatu to New Zealand under the new Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Program? Pacific Economic Bulletin 23(3): 205-228 (2008). David McKenzie, Pilar Garcia Martinez, and L. Alan Winters