Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Migration: an economic and social analysis.

Glover, Stephen and Gott, Ceri and Loizillon, Anaïs and Portes, Jonathan and Price, Richard and Spencer, Sarah and Srinivasan, Vasanthi and Willis, Carole (2001): Migration: an economic and social analysis. Published in: Home Office Occasional Papers No. No 67 (January 2001)


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This study represents a major attempt to identify the overall economic and social outcomes of migration policy in the UK, both in theory and in practice. The evidence indicates that, whilst migrants constitute a very diverse set of people with different characteristics contributing in different ways to the UK economy and society, overall migration has the potential to deliver significant economic benefits. It also makes clear that the issues are complex, and the data incomplete. One of the primary purposes of producing this research study is to encourage debate and further serious research on how migration policy might be further developed in order to achieve the Government’s objective, to maximise the benefits of migration.

This document has been prepared by the Home Office Economics and Resource Analysis Unit with assistance from the Performance and Innovation Unit in the Cabinet Office. It attempts to look at migration in the round: beginning with theory and background trends, proceeding to a discussion of the current policy framework in the context of the Government’s high level objectives, and examining the economic and social outcomes which current policy delivers and their contribution to those objectives. It concludes with suggestions for further research and analysis that will help to underpin future policy development in this area.

This study is for discussion purposes only and does not constitute a statement of Government policy. In particular, this study is intended to be the start of a process of further research and debate – by identifying both what we know from existing data sources and analysis, and where further analysis is required. The impetus for this work came from a view that policy-oriented research and analysis about migration had not kept up with developments. This omission is particularly visible and important in the context of the debate about globalisation. While migration is an integral part of globalisation, many discussions of globalisation focus exclusively on trade, investment and capital flows, and ignore the movement of people.

A good framework exists, both theoretical and policy-oriented, for thinking about globalisation when it comes to trade and capital flows. That framework recognises that globalisation is both inevitable – the UK cannot shut itself off from the rest of the world – and desirable – there are significant economic gains to be had. But it also recognises that a purely laissez-faire attitude would also be a mistake. Globalisation must be managed to maximise its helpful effects and to mitigate its downsides. To do that, Government needs to take an active and progressive role – not least in explaining the globalisation process, why it is happening, why it is beneficial and what Government is doing to manage it.

However, that framework is not yet in place when it comes to migration. This report aims to help remedy that deficiency in the UK context, by providing an analytical framework for policy thinking on this topic.

The analysis in this study is based on data and research on the UK’s current migrant population. Projections based on the current population are necessarily tentative, as future migrants may not be the same as those who are currently in the UK (and we know relatively little about the migrants who are currently here).

This study is not intended to be a definitive statement on UK migration. Rather it attempts to identify what we know from existing data sources and analysis, and to outline areas where further analysis is required. In this way, this study aims to be the start of a process of further research and debate. There is a real need for more research in this area – indeed, it is striking how little research on migration there has been in the UK.

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