An understanding of demographic and community dynamics is critical for providing an evidence base that underpins policy decisions, reveals their impact on social and economic outcomes and contributes to an inclusive society that is tolerant of increasing socio cultural diversity among resident communities. The methodology for this research programme is broadly pragmatic (Bryman, 2012) and involves a mixed-method, multi-site approach. The research design comprises both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, the latter occurring across five distinct communities/regions (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Southland and the West Coast) with a mix of both rural and urban settings.

The six main components of the research include:

  1. Demographic-economic stock-flow sub-national accounting system (DEAS). This quantitative approach entails the production of a highly disaggregated information system of demographic and economic outcomes at the community level. It involves constructing a detailed census-based demographic-economic stock-flow sub-national accounting system database.
  2. Q methodology with households. Q methodology will be used to develop a working understanding of the economic and social aspects of ‘belonging’, identity, mobility decisions and economic participation/investments that exist in both the host and settler communities in New Zealand. Administered to a diverse range of 90 households across five regions, will, through the subsequent factor analysis, produce a set of descriptive labels that reflect dominant characteristics of different views and point to new propositions, concepts, hypotheses, or courses of action concerning the decision making that underpins the decisions by families and individuals to move or stay in particular localities. Will explore how family/household members experience and understand the complexity of demographic shifts and what those shifts mean with regard to their imagined futures (personal, familial, community-based and national).
  3. Employer surveys will be conducted through randomly assigned Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI) of 160- 220 employers from within the five regions to collect data on labour demand-side factors, including employer perceptions of, and attitudes toward, strategies relating to (population and cultural) diversity, labour or skill shortages and employee mobility or retention (including the role of migration in these processes) as well as the implications for employers of diverse communities and population churn.
  4. A multi-regional demographic-economic interaction model (MRIM) will form the basis of a multi regional demographic-economic interaction model that quantifies the likely responses across regions resulting from the spatial mismatch in labour and housing markets by means of: (a) changing labour force participation and entry/exit into sectors/occupations; (b) changing internal migration; (c) changing international migration; (d) changes in wages/incomes; and (e) changes in land values/rents.
  5. Focus groups in schools. Schools represent an important institutional centre of communities and reflect both the demographic composition of catchment communities and aspects of community dynamics (understandings of identity, interpersonal and intergroup interaction) and are inhabited by students who represent various futures for New Zealand as they exit and become active in tertiary education and the labour market. Two to four focus groups will be carried out in each school, chosen to capture a range of deciles as well as a diversity of the ethnic makeup within the school.
  6. Multi-regional demographic-economic projection system (MDEPS). A multiregional demographic-economic projection system will be developed during months 19-24 that projects demographic changes (in population by age, sex and ethnicity; plus households) at the regional level, plus anticipates economic changes in terms of projected employment by sector/occupation. The time frame for projections is likely to be from 2006 until 2036 (with the base year information updated to 2013 once the census data become available). Together, this provides an assessment of critical shortages or surpluses.