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CEP election analysis
Immigration and the UK Economy
Jonathan Wadsworth
May 2017
Paper No' CEPEA039:
Full Paper (pdf) | Technical Paper (pdf)

Tags: immigration; eu countries; economy; brexit

Immigration to the UK has grown a lot over the last 20 years and a significant fraction of this growth has been from other EU countries, especially after 2004 and the accession of the eight East European countries (‘A8’). There are now around 9 million individuals (and 7.4 million adults of working age) living in the UK who were born abroad. The number of immigrants from EU countries living in the UK has tripled from 0.9 million to 3.3 million over this period. In the 2016 referendum debate, a major argument of the Leave campaign was that Brexit would allow more control over the flow of immigrants to the UK from the EU. Many people continue to be concerned that high levels of immigration have hurt their jobs, wages and quality of life. Higher immigration has increased overall national income (more workers will generate more GDP) and benefited the immigrants who have come to the UK since, by and large, they are better off than in their country of origin. But has it been harmful to people born in the UK?

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