Skilled professionals from overseas, especially those who come from an English speaking country, are likely to earn more and contribute more to the Australian economy, new research has found.

An analysis of how migration affects productivity in Australia has found that it has an important role to play with overseas workers increasing the skills and flexibility of the countryís labour market.

The ground breaking report from researchers at the Crawford School of Public Policy, part of the Australian National University, found that between 2006 and 2011 those from overseas have met a third of the increase in skill requirements and contributed 0.2% to the annual rate of productivity growth.


Additionally, work performed by migrants is more skilled, on average, than work performed by people born in Australia. ëBecause that work is more skilled, migrants enjoy a 6% wage advantage over people born in Australia,í said report author Sue Regan a policy analyst.

"However, overall wage rates do not differ substantially between migrants and non-migrants working in the same skill categories, although migrant degree holders are paid somewhat less than their Australian born equivalents," she explained.

She added that on average, migrants have been more productive than non-migrants as measured by earnings. They have also increased their productivity more rapidly than non-migrants.

The research also found that migrants coming from English-speaking countries earn more than non-migrants, migrants born in non-English speaking countries and migrants born in non-OECD countries.

English language proficiency and the level and type of education are important factors in labour market performance of migrants, according to the analysis.

"Both English proficiency and having a university education increase productivity, as measured by earnings, as well the probability of paid employment," Regan added.

People arriving in Australia on Employer or State sponsored and Skilled Independent visas have a higher hourly wage and have a higher likelihood of having a job compared to those on Family visas.

The analysis also found that the unemployment rate is lowest for migrants on Employer sponsored visas and highest for migrants on Family visas. Unemployment rates are similar for migrants on State-sponsored visas and on Skilled Independent visas.

Migrants with onshore visas earn more per hour and are more likely to have a job than migrants with offshore but Working Holiday Makers earn significantly less per hour compared to non-migrants and permanent migrants.

While Working Holiday Makers with a university qualification and who are more fluent in English are less likely to do farm work and a larger percentage of international students from English speaking countries earn a higher income compared to domestic students and students coming from non-English speaking countries.