Recognised Seasonal Employer Program Impact Evaluation 2007-2010
Seasonal migration programs are widely used around the world, yet there is little evidence about their development impacts. A multi-year prospective evaluation of New Zealand's Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) worker program was designed to measure the impact of participating in this program on households in Tonga and Vanuatu. New Zealand launched the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) program in 2007. The program set up a new migration category to allow workers to be recruited for seasonal work in New Zealand's horticulture and viticulture industries.
Between 2007 and 2010 researchers from the World Bank and New Zealand's University of Waikato conducted four waves of surveys in Tonga and Vanuatu providing 70 percent of the Pacific Island workers in the RSE. In each country the team surveyed 450 households drawn from about 50 communities, including households supplying workers, households with RSE applicants who were not recruited and non-applicant households.
The baseline survey was conducted before workers left to work in New Zealand in the first season. The workers were re-interviewed 6, 12 and 24 months later. Using the baseline data and institutional knowledge of how recruitment for the program occurred, the impact evaluation team used propensity-score matching to identify an appropriate set of households to act as a comparison group for the households participating in the RSE, and then used panel difference-in-differences and fixed effects estimation to assess the impacts of the RSE on household income, consumption, durable assets and subjective well-being.
The baseline and three follow-up rounds datasets are documented here.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
There were four rounds of surveys (baseline and three follow-up surveys). Each survey had a household section and an individual section. The data was saved as corresponding household data files (round1HHa.dta, round2HHa.dta, etc.) and individual data files (round1Inda.dta, round2Inda.dta, etc.).
The scope of the Impact Evaluation includes the following:
- Labour market activity
- Foods in the diet
- Dwelling facilities and durables
- Remittance channels and use of the financial system
- Inward transfers
- Outward transfers
- Household income and expenditure
- Migrant experience and network
- Knowledge and selection procedure of the RSE policy
- Returned RSE workers
- Household's reasons for applying and expectations about the RSE policy
- Reasons for not applying for the RSE policy
- Changes in life over last two years and Australian Seasonal Worker Pilot
- Households with new seasonal workers
- Households never having a RSE worker
In Tonga the survey had near national coverage, covering the islands of Tongatapu, Vava'u and 'Eua.
Producers and sponsors
University of Waikato, New Zealand
Australian Agency for International Development
Researchers used a rolling sampling methodology, adding sample as they received updates of when, where, and who employers were recruiting, with the baseline survey conducted between October 2007 and April 2008. In Tonga, the survey had near national coverage, covering the islands of Tongatapu, Vav'u and 'Eua (containing 90 percent of the population and 92 percent of Year 1 RSE workers). Officials helped to identify households with RSE workers and households with members of the RSE work-ready pool who had not been selected yet. In the same villages, researchers also surveyed randomly selected households, where no one hadn't applied for the program yet. In each village, the goal was to select approximately five households with an RSE worker, three households with a member of the work-ready pool who was not selected, and four households with non-applicants. The resulting baseline survey covered 448 households containing 2,335 individuals in 46 villages.
Attrition was low in the Tongan sample. Of the 448 households in the baseline, researchers were able to re-interview 442 households in the second round survey, 444 in the third round, and 440 in the fourth round.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Data Collection Notes
A baseline survey of households and communities in Tonga was conducted before workers left to work in New Zealand, and then these same households were re-interviewed 6, 12 and 24 months later. The baseline survey was conducted between October 2007 and April 2008. Three rounds of follow-up surveys were then conducted. The first took place between April and July 2008, approximately six months after the baseline survey. This was intended to be a time when RSE workers were still in the midst of their 7 month stint abroad. However, as in practice many contracts were for shorter than 7 months, approximately two-thirds of Tongan RSE workers in the sample had returned by the time of this survey. The second follow-up survey took place between October 2008 and February 2009, approximately one year after the baseline, while the third and final follow-up survey took place between October 2009 and March 2010, two years after baseline.
The use of the datasets must be acknowledged using a citation which would include:
- the identification of the Primary Investigator (including country name);
- the full title of the survey and its acronym (when available), and the year(s) of implementation;
- the survey reference number;
- the source and date of download (for datasets disseminated online).
David McKenzie, World Bank. Tonga Recognised Seasonal Employer Program Impact Evaluation (RSEIE) 2007-2010. Ref. TON_2007_RSEIE_v01_M. Dataset downloaded from [URL] on [date].
Disclaimer and copyrights
The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses.
DDI Document ID
Development Data Group
Date of Metadata Production
DDI Document version
v01 (March 2014)