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The Policy Implications of Emigration from the UK: Target and Uncertainty Dr Carlos Vargas-silva Emigration – Don’t leave me this way? British Society.

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Presentation on theme: "The Policy Implications of Emigration from the UK: Target and Uncertainty Dr Carlos Vargas-silva Emigration – Don’t leave me this way? British Society."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Policy Implications of Emigration from the UK: Target and Uncertainty Dr Carlos Vargas-silva Emigration – Don’t leave me this way? British Society for Population Studies 13 May 2013

2 Outline The tens of thousands objective – Objective – Relation with emigration Non-EU emigration – Different emigration rates – The net-migration bounce British/EU emigration – The EU shuffle All – The role of uncertainty

3 The “tens of thousands” objective Net-migration = Immigration – Emigration PM Cameron has reaffirmed the government's commitment to reducing net-migration from the “hundreds of thousands” to the “tens of thousands”.

4 Who is included? The “target” includes all migrants (i.e. those moving in or out for at least 12 months): 1) British/EU/Non-EU nationals… 2) workers, students, family, asylum… 3) high skill, med skill, low skill… The target includes immigration/emigration of British and EU nationals whose entry and exit Britain cannot restrict. Focus has been on non-EU nationals.

5 Why including everyone? Transparency (e.g. using international definitions). Neutrality (e.g. not focused on a specific group). Necessity – IPS emigration data do not allow for calculation of net-migration by categories. – It does not gather information about the characteristics and purpose of entry of emigrants at the time of initial arrival. – e.g. possible for someone to arrive as foreign citizen and leave as UK citizen. – e.g. migrants arrive in the UK for the purpose of study, but leave for employment. – ONS introduced a new question to the IPS.

6 Efforts to reduce net migration are built around... The restriction of three migration routes for non-EU nationals: work, study and family. Boost outflows (i.e. emigration) of non-EU nationals: changes to settlement policy to “break the link” between migration and settlement and “closing” post study work.

7 Non-EU migration

8 Today’s immigrants are tomorrow’s emigrants Reducing inflows (i.e. immigration) to the UK is also likely to lead to a reduction in future outflows (i.e. emigration). Much of the short-term drop in net-migration as a result of lower inflows will be fleeting, because fewer migrants will subsequently leave.

9 The net-migration Bounce The “bounce effect” arises because many of the migrants currently coming to the UK leave again after a few years.

10 Illustration Hypothetical reduction of immigration of 146,000 over 3 years and assuming no more reductions in the subsequent years. Reduction required to hit a target of net 99,000 by 2015, without considering the effects of reduced emigration. Based on baseline net-migration of 245,000 (preliminary estimate for 2011).

11 Long-term reduction in net is less than half of the initial reduction

12 Differences in emigration rates Some types of migrants are more likely to settle in the UK than others. This means that reducing the immigration of groups who are more likely to settle will have a bigger long-term impact on net migration.

13 How to split the 146,000 cut? MAC suggest that cuts to net migration could be proportionate to the size of that group in non-EU inflows (i.e. 60% students, 20% family, and 20% work). This translates to cuts per year of: 29,200 - students; 9,700 - family and 9,700 - workers.

14 Emigration rates? Data on emigration are very limited. Model outflows of different migrant groups based on data from a cohort of non-EU migrants that entered the UK in 2004 (taken from the Home Office’s original Migrant Journey study). Study has been updated since then but no major differences.


16 Findings Students, while by far the largest group, are proportionally unlikely to settle permanently. Much of the impact of a cut in numbers would evaporate. Reducing the number of family migrants coming to the UK – while smaller in the short term – is proportionally greater. The majority of labour migrants also tend to leave, meaning that cuts to labour immigration will also push down emigration.

17 British/EU emigration

18 British/EU migration “cancel out”? The EU shuffle: No need to “worry” about EU immigration, because this flow “cancels out” with British emigration.

19 Long standing argument PM Cameron in 2011 “take this question of Europe. Yes, our borders are open to people from other member states in the European Union. But actually, this counts for a small proportion of overall net migration to the UK.” In reference to net-migration of people whose international movement Britain cannot control (British and other EU citizens).

20 The ‘global’ approach Focus on citizenship of the migrants only, without taking their destination or where they are moving from into account. This method analyses the migration flows of EU citizens to and from the UK regardless of whether their origin or destination is inside or outside the EU.

21 The ‘global’ approach

22 Missing something important… Many British citizens emigrate to non-EU countries. It does not reflect the effects of the right to free movement within the EU on total net- migration in the UK.

23 The ‘Strictly EU’ approach Measures 3 things: – Balance between the number of British citizens who leave the UK to take up residence in another EU country, and the number who return to the UK after having been resident in another EU country. – Balance between the number of (non-British) EU citizens who arrive in the UK to take up residence and the number who leave the UK for another EU country, after having been resident here. – The balance between these two numbers.

24 ‘Strictly EU’ approach

25 Findings Both approaches can be valid but they give us different information. If, however, we want to discuss the right to free movement within the EU, the ‘strictly EU’ approach is more appropriate (still imperfect).

26 All

27 Entries, exists and errors The primary data source currently used to estimate emigration (and net migration) in the UK is subject to considerable margins of error.

28 Implication for policy debate Available estimates are problematic as a means to define and precisely measure progress toward a numerical limit on migration. Not necessarily a problem with the survey, but with the use of the survey.

29 IPS central estimates and associated confidence intervals

30 Implications The government could miss the “tens of thousands” target and still appear to have hit it. Conversely the government could hit, or even exceed its target and still appear to have missed it. Efforts to meet the government’s target lack an adequate measure of success.

31 More information Thanks

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