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Press Release: The Net Migration Bounce

29 Feb 2012

New analysis shows that any short-term cut to net-migration brought about by reductions in immigration will be partially reversed in the long-term because of declining emigration – a “bounce effect” – the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said today.

In its latest commentary the Migration Observatory demonstrates how this bounce takes place by looking at short-term and longer-term impacts of reduced immigration on net migration. The bounce effect is an important and often overlooked issue in the net-migration debate.

The commentary, called ‘The Net Migration Bounce,’ demonstrates that cutting immigration of groups that are numerically large, but who tend not to settle in the UK – such as students – can lead to a dramatic short-term reduction in net migration that is partially reversed over time because of declining emigration – which makes overall cuts in net migration harder to achieve in the long-term.

Dr Scott Blinder, Senior Researcher at the Migration Observatory said: “Cutting immigration for groups with low settlement rates will give strong results for a couple of years, while the immigration numbers are down and emigration is not yet affected, but it sets the stage for a rebound a few years down the line, when emigration will decline, and net migration will bounce back up.”

The commentary points out that while students account for about 60% of non-EU migrant inflows, the best available Home Office data suggest that fewer than a quarter remain in the UK for 5 years or more. This contrasts starkly with family migrants – who represent less than 20% of non-EU migrant inflows – but 63 per cent of whom remain in the UK after 5 years. This means that cutting family migration by a small amount can have the same impact on net migration in the long term as cutting student migration by a larger amount.

The commentary builds on new analysis released yesterday by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). The MAC report, which recommended that the cap on non-EU labour migration (Tier 2) remains at 20,700, also confirms the Migration Observatory’s analysis from June 2011 that the Government faces a profound challenge in achieving its net migration target by 2015.

The MAC report notes that “the tens of thousands target is not wholly within government control” and that “further steps under all routes – work, study and family – may well be required if this target is to be met.”

Dr Blinder added: “While hitting the net migration target will be hard enough and requires deep cuts to immigration, the counterintuitive nature of the “bounce effect” means that keeping below the target over time will be even harder.”


To read the full commentary visit: www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/commentary/net-migration-bounce

For further information contact: Rob McNeil Senior Media Analyst, The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.

e: robert.mcneil@compas.ox.ac.uk; Tel: 01865 274568; Mob: 07500 970081

Editors Notes:

About the Migration Observatory

  • Based at the ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford, the Migration Observatory provides independent, authoritative, evidence-based analysis of data on migration and migrants in the UK, to inform media, public and policy debates, and to generate high quality research on international migration and public policy issues. The Observatory’s analysis involves experts from a wide range of disciplines and departments at the University of Oxford.
  • The Migration Observatory is funded by: Unbound Philanthropy; the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and the Barrow Cadbury Trust.
  • The Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford conducts high quality research in order to develop theory and knowledge, inform policy-making and public debate, and engage users of research within the field of migration. For further details see the COMPAS website: www.compas.ox.ac.uk/.
  • COMPAS is core funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) www.esrc.ac.uk/.

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If you would like to make a press enquiry, please contact:

Rob McNeil

+ 44 (0)7500 970081

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