12 March 2014

While some try to slow down immigration in the UK, here's how the country benefits

Migration is a much debated subject around the world. We are investigating the impacts that migration on countries, migrants, business and more. Read more on Migration Matters.

Migrants flock to the UK at much higher rates than any other European country. The small country accepted the most number of recorded immigrants in 2011, according to recent data. The more than 500,000 people that went to the UK is twice that of neighboring France.

Reduced immigration restrictions instituted by the Blair government made it easy for citizens of European Union member states to seek employment in the UK. The issue of migration is a contentious one in England. The conservative coalition government now in power pledged to reduce net migration to the levels of the 1990′s. A recent proposal from the Lib Dems to allow migrants already in the UK bring their grandparents into the country, was met with opposition.

“It seems as if the Liberal Democrats still want to turn the NHS into the World Health Service and the British welfare state into the world’s welfare state,” said the Ukip party’s director of communications Patrick O’Flynn. “Hardworking people in Britain cannot afford this reckless and ill-considered approach to immigration.”

He hits on a common complaint: migrants go to the UK in order to reap the benefits of a robust social welfare system. The logic goes that they are taking advantage of hard working Brits and providing nothing in return. Christian Dustmann and Tommaso Frattini show that it is exactly the opposite.

“Recent immigrants, i.e. those who arrived since 2000, are less likely to both receiving (sic) benefits and living in social housing than natives. Furthermore, recent immigrants, both those from [European Economic Area (EEA)] and non-EEA countries have made a positive net contribution to the UK fiscal system despite the UK’s running a budget deficit over most of the 2000s,” found Dustmann and Frattini in a November paper for the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration.