Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 241–269 | Cite as

Earthquake Impacts on Immigrant Participation in the Greater Christchurch Construction Labor Market

  • Sin Meun How
  • Geoffrey N. KerrEmail author


Post natural disaster immigration has potential to significantly impact labor markets, possibly affecting local workers’ employment opportunities and thereby community recovery. However, research is limited. This study examines the impacts of the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes on demographic composition and occupational structure in the Greater Christchurch construction industry using customized data from New Zealand Census of Populations and Dwellings conducted in 2006 and 2013. Replication of the discrete dependent variable regression methods used by Sisk and Bankston III (Popul Res Policy Rev 33(3):309–334, 2014) enables comparison with outcomes in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina. The increased presence of migrant construction workers did not reduce employment of New Zealand-born workers, both non-immigrant and immigrant participation in the construction industry increased post-earthquakes. After the earthquakes, there was increased worker participation at the lowest-skill end of the occupational structure, but there were few significant changes in occupational distributions of non-immigrant and immigrant workers. Non-immigrant workers still dominated all occupational levels post-earthquakes. Construction workers’ education levels were higher post-earthquakes, particularly among migrant workers. Overall, migrant workers in the Greater Christchurch construction industry were more diverse, better educated, and participated at higher occupational levels than migrants assisting in the New Orleans rebuild, possibly due to differences in immigration policies.


Disasters Earthquakes Labor market Immigration Construction industry 



This work would not have been possible without the data kindly supplied by Statistics New Zealand. The authors are extremely grateful for constructive comments from three anonymous referees, which have greatly improved the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Petaling JayaMalaysia
  2. 2.Department of Environmental ManagementLincoln UniversityChristchurchNew Zealand

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