Dynamics of immigrant location in the UK

Anke Hoeffler and Paul Collier, University of Oxford

[Project number 30133]


We have recently finished a first draft of an international migration project for the UK government's Foresight Programme. We would now like to concentrate on migration to the UK and test whether our findings from our international study hold for the UK. Our statistical results confirm that low income makes outmigration more likely and migrants are attracted to countries with high incomes. In addition to these commonly found 'push and pull' factors, our results also show that migrants prefer to migrate to neighbouring countries, countries within the region and to former colonial powers. In order to migrate to distant countries a certain level of wealth seems to be important. We interpret this as an investment effect, individuals have to have a certain income in order to be able to afford the expensive migration process to a distant country. Once at their country of destination they earn much higher incomes than in their countries of origin and the investment into migration pays off. The global migration analysis did not allow us to consider the importance of the existing diaspora for migration flows. However, we have some diaspora data for OECD countries only. Our statistical analysis suggests that the diaspora, i.e. the stock of migrants, is the most important factor in explaining new migration flows.

Future research:

Using UK Census data we would like to examine the results obtained from our global migration study. Questions we would like to pose are: (1) Where do migrants come from?, (2) Where in the UK do migrants decide to settle?, (3) Do new migrants predominantly choose to join existing diaspora communities?, (4) Did the diaspora communities become more concentrated/dispersed over time? (5) Are there differences with regard to choice of location and concentration/dispersion by country of origin of the migrant populations?