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Economic and social impact of increasing Australia's humanitarian intake

Potential to make a notable impact

Oxfam Australia commissioned Deloitte Access Economics to analyse the economic and social impact an expanded refugee program may have on Australia’s economy and society.

Increasing Australia’s humanitarian intake is expected to have a profound impact on the individuals resettled in Australia – supporting the protection of human rights to life, liberty and safety. While acknowledging these fundamental outcomes, this study focuses on estimating the economic and social impacts to Australia of the proposed increase in Australia’s Humanitarian Program.

The economic modelling undertaken suggests that increasing Australia’s humanitarian migration intake to 44,000 per annum over a five year period, as proposed by Oxfam Australia, could have a notable impact on the broader economy. Relative to the base case scenario, where the humanitarian migrant intake remains at its 2017-18 levels, an increase in the humanitarian intake could:

  • Increase the size of the Australian economy by $37.7 billion net present value terms over the next 50 years. On average, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could be $4.9 billion greater annually between 2018-19 and 2067-68.
  • Sustain on average an additional 35,000 full time equivalent jobs in the Australian economy every year for the next 50 years.
  • Increase private consumption, which is the best measure of consumer welfare in the CGE model, by $18.2 billion in net present value terms.

The economic impact continues to increase over time particularly as humanitarian migrants settle into life in Australia, finish education/retraining and enter the labour force. The economic impacts of an increased humanitarian migrant intake, discussed above, are largely driven by the contributions humanitarian migrants make to labour supply and aggregate demand.

Increasing Australia’s humanitarian intake is also expected to have a significant social impact. Humanitarian migrants actively contribute to the multicultural and diverse fabric of Australian society. Through their diverse range of experiences, languages, countries of origin and cultures, humanitarian migrants have a positive impact on social wellbeing and satisfaction of Australians. Research suggests that social resilience, adaptability and vibrancy - although difficult to quantify – are by-products of a multicultural society.

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