1 August, 2008Summary
How many have come?
2. It is difficult to estimate the true extent of net immigration from Eastern Europe since 2004. The coverage of the International passenger Survey (IPS) has not covered all the points of arrival. Furthermore, it asks questions, on a voluntary basis, about intentions. It is quite possible that intentions will change, especially as freedom of movement within the EU encourages people to come to the UK on a 'trial' basis. In the 12 months to June 2008 only 11% of registered workers said they would stay for a year or more but this seems a very low figure.
3. The Workers Registration Scheme records arrivals but, anecdotally, a significant number are unwilling to pay the £90 registration fee. Nor does it include the self employed, nor dependants who arrive after initial registration. Critically, it gives no information about departures.
4. An alternative would be to look at the Labour Force Survey to see what proportion the rise in the stock of A8/A2 nationals is of the rise in all foreign nationals between Q1 2004 and Q42007. This yields 45% or roughly one in two. However, it would be wrong to compare stocks of foreign nationals because non-EU nationals become British citizens and EU nationals generally don't. So, if you compare stock, much of the inflow of new non-EU migrants would be offset by the reduction in existing non-EU foreign national caused by these nationals becoming British citizens. For example, in 2007- 5,880 EEA citizens were given nationality compared with 158,775 non-EEA citizens; the stock of foreign citizens would be reduced accordingly.5. According to the official (IPS ) figures, net East European migration between 2004-2006 totalled 181,000 out of total net foreign immigration of 960,000 =19% or for 2006 alone it was 71,000 out of 316,000 = 22%. This may be an underestimate for the reasons given above. A further approach would be to take unofficial estimates (by the IPPR) that half have gone home, leaving 500,000 still in the UK; dividing this by four gives 125,000 a year. In 2006 the IPS figure was only 71,000 so 54,000 should be added to net foreign immigration, bringing it to 370,000. This suggests that Eastern European immigration has accounted for about one third of net foreign immigration since 2004.
How many will come in future?
6. Net migration flows into the UK from the countries which acceded to the EU in May 2004 (the A8 countries) will be a factor of:
7. Both of these factors will in turn be largely driven by the following:
These factors are discussed in more detail below.Economic levels of UK and Eastern European economies
9. The four countries which have the highest registration rates are Poland, Slovakia, Latvia and Lithuania (in ascending order). Poland, which is the source of the highest number of registrations overall, has an estimated GDP per head (on a purchasing power parity basis) of $14,400 compared with the UK’s $31,800. Its growth rate in 2006 was 6.1% compared with the UK’s 2.8%. It can expect to continue to witness rapid economic growth resulting from the introduction of a free market economy, the benefits of being part of the EU free trade area and substantial funding from the EU. Assuming that Poland continues to grow at a rate of say 2.5% above the UK rate it would take about 12 years for Poland’s GDP per head to reach a level (of $19,000) at which migration rates may be expected to halve (based on the above trend line).
10. The effect of a rising GDP on emigration has already been seen with Portugal and Greece. They have GDP’s per capita of $19,800 and $24,000 respectively, well below the UK’s level of $31,800 but sufficiently high to have resulted in low levels of net migration to the UK from these countries.Unemployment
13. The number of young people who are reaching an age at which they might decide to move to the UK is rapidly declining. In Poland, for instance, the population of 18 year olds will fall from 600,000 in 2005 to 400,000 in 2016.
14. Nine countries of the EU have now opened their labour markets to the A8. The other 6, notably France, Germany and Austria must open their labour markets from May 2011 at the latest. It is likely that this will cause some reduction in the number of East Europeans seeking work in the UK. However, the UK may remain the preferred destination for most Poles because of English being the preferred language in the Polish educational system and because of the strong ties which will exist with the UK as a result of the high numbers of Poles already here.
The likely number of arrivals
15. It is impossible to be sure but it seems likely that the combination of the economic and demographic factors sketched out above and the full opening of EU labour markets will lead to a significant fall in migration from the A8 countries to the UK. Our guess is that the number of workers from the A8 registering to work in the UK will follow the pattern below.
Number of registered workers
2011 and onwards
17. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that a much greater percentage than this are in fact staying in the UK. This was supported by a survey carried out by ARC Market and Opinion, a Warsaw based market research firm, which found that only 45% of Poles surveyed planned to go home within 4 years. A further 45% said that they would stay at least 5 years and 10% said they would settle in Britain for good.
18. We have used this survey as the basis of our calculation but have also assumed that:
19. This leads to the following assumptions regarding rate at which East Europeans will leave the UK:
This makes a total of 65% who will leave within 10 years of arriving in the UK with the remaining 35% staying permanently.Probable net immigration
21. As can be seen from the above this would point to net migration flows of A8 citizens into and out of the UK being brought broadly into balance from 2010 with a small net outflow in the following 3 years. Any outflow would probably be offset, in time, by an inflow from Romania and Bulgaria which will enjoy full access to the UK labour market from January 2014. Inflows from these two countries are, however, likely to be relatively low because other countries have opened their labour markets to them before the UK and the two countries will have full labour market access to all EU countries in 2014. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that southern European nations are the preferred destination of migrants from these countries.