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Indigenous Migration and the Labour Market: A Cautionary Tale


  • Nicholas Biddle

    () (The Australian National University)


During the last intercensal period there was a net transfer of Indigenous Australians to urban Australia from more remote parts of the country. With the withdrawal of a number of Indigenous specific labour market programs, this net migration is likely to intensify into the future. The aim of this paper is to consider the impact of this urbanisation on the labour market prospects of those Indigenous Australians who move and those Indigenous Australians already living in urban Australia. Using both aggregate and individual data, the results present somewhat of a cautionary tale. First, individual Indigenous Australians who move to urban areas do not appear to do as well in the labour market as those who stay behind. Second, inward migration from remote dispersed settlements is associated with a significant and substantial decline in the percentage of the population employed in the destination area. Although governments may have a fiscal motivation to encourage Indigenous Australians to move from non-urban to urban Australia, those who do move may struggle to compete in the private sector labour markets that they find there.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicholas Biddle, 2010. "Indigenous Migration and the Labour Market: A Cautionary Tale," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 13(3), pages 313-330.
  • Handle: RePEc:ozl:journl:v:13:y:2010:i:3:p:313-330

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James Giesecke & G.A. Meagher, 2008. "Modelling the Economic Effects of Population Ageing," Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre Working Papers g-172, Victoria University, Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre.
    2. Shah, C & Burke, G, 2005. "Skills Shortages: Concepts, Measurement and Policy Responses," Australian Bulletin of Labour, National Institute of Labour Studies, vol. 31(1), pages 44-71.
    3. Peter B. Dixon & Maureen T. Rimmer, 2006. "The Displacement Effect of Labour-Market Programs: MONASH Analysis," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 82(s1), pages 26-40, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alfred Dockery, 2016. "A Wellbeing Approach to Mobility and its Application to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 125(1), pages 243-255, January.

    More about this item


    Economics of Minorities and Races; Non-labor Discrimination Mobility; Unemployment; and Vacancies: Public Policy Urban; Rural; and Regional Economics: Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population; Neighborhood Characteristics;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population


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