The Socio-Economic Consequences of Immigration: The United Kingdom as a Test Case

David A. Coleman, University of Oxford
Robert E. Rowthorn, University of Cambridge

Since 1997 a new UK policy has promoted increased immigration on the grounds that it is essential for its economic well-being and beneficial for its society. New measures have been introduced, successfully, to increase inflows. The benefits claimed include fiscal advantages, increased GDP, a ready supply of labor and improvements to the age-structure. Fears that large-scale migration might damage the interests of the indigenous workforce are discounted. Similar arguments are advanced in favor of migration in other developed low-fertility societies. This paper examines these claims using a new analysis of UK data and a variety of international evidence. It is concluded that the economic consequences are mostly trivial or negative, that the interests of the domestic population may well be damaged, and that any fiscal or other economic benefits are unlikely to bear comparison with its substantial and permanent demographic and environmental impact. Such findings resemble those from other developed countries.

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Presented in Session 151: Policy Dimensions of Immigrant Settlement