Visiting British economist says refugees are good for the economy

While some New Zealanders believe welcoming refugees creates a drain on the welfare system, research conducted by British political economist and critically acclaimed writer Philippe Legrain has proven that for every $1 invested in refugees, a return of $2 can be expected within five years.

“By all means help refugees as part of your social responsibility, but also employ refugees because it’s good for your business. They’re likely to be hardworking, highly motivated workers and you will benefit from it,” Mr Legrain said prior to his August 6 visit to the country. His visit comes at a time when New Zealand is set to double its quota of refugees from 750 to 1,500 by 2020.

HOST International, a group committed to realising the potential of displaced people is bringing Mr Legrain to New Zealand for a series of free events to discuss his latest research and the economic benefits of hiring refugees.

HOST International CEO, David Keegan said: “We need businesses to get involved in refugee communities in order to provide education and training as well as jobs. However, we also believe there are mutual benefits such as increased productivity, diversity and positive exposure.”

With more than 30% of refugees arriving here with professional qualifications and experience, Mr Legrain’s research is encouraging. HOST International is calling on businesses to better utilise former refugees’ skills and welcome them into the workforce, particularly to address skills shortages.

“Our organisation is eager to see the economic potential of former refugees realised and their well-being enhanced by helping people to start productive new lives,” Mr Keegan said.

Refugees contribute economically as workers, entrepreneurs, innovators, consumers, taxpayers and investors. Their efforts can help create jobs, raise the productivity and wages of local workers, lift capital returns, stimulate international trade and investment, and boost innovation, enterprise and growth.

Philippe Legrain will speak at these events:

Auckland – August 6 and 7 – Invitation only
Wellington – Wednesday August 8, 5.30 – 7.30pm – Te Wharewaka O Poneke, Odlins Plaza

Wellington: Parliamentary Breakfast
August 9, 2018, 7.15-8.30am – Grand Hall, Parliament Buildings. Public tickets available.

Wellington -Thursday August 9, 12.30-1.30pm – Victoria University, Rutherford House

Christchurch – August 10, 2018, 5.30-7.30pm – Engineering Core, University of Canterbury.

For registration, visit:


Philippe Legrain

  • Philippe Legrain has worked as special adviser to the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (2000-1) and as independent economic adviser to the President of the European Commission and head of the team that provides him with strategic policy advice (2011-14);
  • journalism: as a correspondent for the Baltic Independent and a stringer for the Financial Times in newly independent Estonia (1991-2), as trade and economics correspondent at The Economist (1997-2000), as editor of World Link, the magazine of the World Economic Forum (2002) and independently;
  • political campaigning: as chief economist and then director of policy at Britain in Europe (2002-5);
  • as the author of critically acclaimed books on globalisation, international migration, the financial crisis and Europe;
  • as an independent commentator, consultant and public speaker.


HOST International

HOST International is a charity working throughout the Asia Pacific providing alternative solutions for displaced people that focus on self-reliance and emotional wellbeing. We also develop host communities’ ability to support and integrate displaced people so that everyone benefits.

In New Zealand we are currently focusing on supporting refugees to access economic independence through employment, education and social enterprise.


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