Latest government figures published today show that net migration to the UK dropped by 44% in 2008.
The surplus of those immigrating over those emigrating for 2008 was 118,000, after a number of years when it was in excess of 200,000.
Leading think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) highlights the fact that the drop is largely explained by rapid increases in the emigration of non-British citizens from the UK – up 50% in 2008. This trend is particularly marked for migrants from new EU member states – net migration from these countries was just 14,000 in 2008, down from a peak of over 80,000 in 2007.
ippr argues that these trends are unsurprising. There is strong evidence that migration responds to economic conditions – people come to the UK when there are jobs, and leave when there aren’t. The cyclical pattern of migration in the most recent period of economic growth was exaggerated in the UK by the impact of EU accession, but this was only a short-run effect – most of the migrants who came to the UK after 2004 always planned to go home.
ippr’s Head of Migration, Tim Finch said: “ippr has pointed out for some time that migration flows go in cycles, and these latest figures for 2008 indicate that after a number of years in which net migration was high, it is now declining sharply – almost certainly because of a combination of the economic downturn, the short term nature of much migration from new EU countries, and the impact of stronger controls and management put in place by the government.
“There has been a lot of irresponsible scaremongering about immigration in recent years which was based on the false assumption that high net migration into the UK was inevitable for years to come. As our recent report on re-migration showed, migration flows go both ways and we now need to be thinking about how our managed migration systems can continue to attract and retain the migrants we need to help our economy to recover and grow.”
All statistics taken from Office for National Statistics Migration Statistics Quarterly Report, August 2009, available at : http://www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/Product.asp?vlnk=15230
Source: Liberal Conspiracy