Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 719–740 | Cite as

Explaining trends in UK immigration

Original Paper


Since the 1970s Britain has gone from being a country of net emigration to one of net immigration, with a trend increase in immigration of more than 100,000 per year. This paper represents the first attempt to model the variations in net migration for British and for foreign citizens, across countries and over time. A simple economic model, which includes the selection effects of differing income distributions at home and abroad, largely accounts for the variations in the data. The results suggest that although improved economic performance in the UK relative to overseas has tended to increase immigration, rising UK inequality has had an even larger effect. Immigration policies at home and abroad have also increased net immigration, particularly in the 1990s.


Immigration Emigration Immigration policy 


F22 J61 J78 



This research was undertaken while I held a British Academy Research Readership for which I am grateful. I would like to acknowledge help with the data from Tom Clark, Andrew Shephard, Steve Machin, Drew Treasure and Margi Wood. I am also grateful for useful comments on earlier versions of the paper from participants at a CEPR workshop an IZA conference, seminars at the University of Essex and the Australian National University and from three anonymous referees.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of EssexColchesterUK
  2. 2.School of Economics, Faculty of Economics and CommerceAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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