Immigration in the UK

Immigration in the UK:
Numbers, Impacts and Policy Debates
Martin Ruhs
University of Oxford
[email protected]
This talk
• UK Immigration policies since early 2000s:
opening and closing
• Numbers: what difference did EU enlargement
• Impacts of EU migration: what do we know?
• Policy debates 1:
– how to reduce growing reliance on migrant
workers, especially in lower-skilled
– how to regulate highly skilled migration and
Opening and closing doors
• “Managed Migration” Policies before EU
enlargement: The economic benefits of immigration
• EU enlargement 2004: No restrictions on EU8
• EU enlargement 2007: Restrictions on EU2 workers
• Since 2008: Points-based System for non-EU
• Since 2010: Net-migration target and cap on skilled
non-EU workers (plus more restrictions on family
and student immigration from outside EU)
• Big current policy question: what to do about EU
Migration to and from the UK
Top ten sending countries (by COB)
A8 and A2 migrants in the UK
EU8 Migration flows much larger than predicted
(but still less than a fifth of all inflows)
EU8 nationals have among the highest
employment rates in the UK
EU8 nationals are, on average, better educated than
UK-born workers, but most EU8 are in LS jobs
EU8 migrants are among the lowest earners in UK
EU2 Immigration
Impacts of A8 immigration
Impacts of EU8 immigration
• Labour markets
– Econometric studies find no evidence of
significant adverse effects on wages or
employment; but qualitative research with
employers finds preference for migrants in
some sectors; sectoral/occupational effects?
• Fiscal effects
– Only one study: finds pos. effects during 200409: low wages outweighed by high
employment rates
Impacts of EU8 immigration
• Public services (provision and consumption)
– Significant data limitations
– Research (NIESR 2011) finds that, in 2009-10, the
per capita consumption of education, health and
social care services of recent migrants was lower
than that of the UK-born population
– Many anecdotes and public debates about some
public services (incl schools and hospitals) not
coping with pace of change; funding issues
– EU8 less likely to be in social housing than UKborn; but debates about allocation of limited
social housing
Impacts of EU8 immigration
• So overall:
– data limitations and gaps in evidence
– Employers and migrants clearly benefited
– Fiscal effects likely positive (and small) but “pace
of change” issues
– Debates and evidence gaps about impacts on
specific low-waged labour markets
Policy debates
Policy debates 1: EU immigration
• EU8 “problem” for public opinion: Low-skilled; “out
of control”
• EU8 major political problem for Labour Party; Labour
Leader says that it was “wrong” to open up to A8
• Key policy challenge: how to reduce reliance on
migrants, esp. in low-skilled jobs  EU8 immigration
• Immigration and public policy; system effects
– Supply side approach (Conservatives)
– Demand side approach (Labour)
• Access to benefits
• A2 migration
Policy debates 2:
students and skilled immigration from outside EU
• Students biggest category in immigration statistics;
gvt has restricted student migration but not
universities; future trajectories? Length of stay?
• Highly skilled workers: impacts? how to attract and
select? Investors and entrepreneurs
 always tension between “protecting” and
“globalising” national labour markets; effectiveness of
resident labour market test?
Immigration in the UK:
Numbers, Impacts and Policy Debates
Martin Ruhs
University of Oxford
[email protected]

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