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Immigration to the UK: the evidence from economic research

A new policy analysis, Immigration to the UK: the evidence from economic research, written by senior research fellow Professor Jonathan Wadsworth was published today (Wednesday 19 December) by the Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.

The analysis found that:

  • Immigration to the UK has been rising since 1995. According to the Labour Force Survey, by 2007, 12.5 per cent of the UK's working age population was born abroad, up from around 8 per cent in 1995. There are now 4.3 million adults of working age in the UK who were born abroad
  • The UK has a lower share of immigrants in its total population (9.3 per cent), than Australia (23.6 per cent), France (10 per cent), Germany (13 per cent) or the United States (12.8 per cent)
  • Immigrants are arriving from many more countries than in the past. Poland is now the country that contributes the biggest proportion of new arrivals (9 per cent), followed by India (8 per cent) and then South Africa (5 per cent)
  • Compared with people born in the UK, immigrants are, on average, younger, better educated and concentrated in London. New immigrants are more educated, on average, than immigrants who arrived in the past
  • Aside from arrivals from other members of the European Union, the number of new immigrants is controlled by the government through a work permit system, now based on a 'points' system
  • Immigrants from poorer and less democratic countries assimilate faster into a British identity. Part of this can be explained by a greater tendency to take up citizenship
  • There are potential economic benefits associated with migration, especially to fill gaps in the UK labour market - where there are shortages of workers, whether high skilled or low skilled. While there may be costs to particular groups, there is little evidence of an overall negative impact on jobs or wages
  • The rate at which the wage and employment prospects of immigrants converge, on average, to those of the UK-born population appears to have changed little over time


For more information, please contact Helen Durrant on 020 7955 7395 or by email at h.durrant@lse.ac.uk| or Romesh Vaitilingam on 07768 661095 or by email at romesh@compuserve.com|


The Centre for Economic Performance is an interdisciplinary research centre at the LSE Research Laboratory. It was established by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in 1990 and is now one of the leading economic research groups in Europe.

19 December 2007