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Demographic changes in the UK, Part 2
Joan Garrod
Philip Allan Publishers © 2015
What is migration?
Migration refers to the flow of people in and out of a country, usually measured in thousands
per year. Migration can also be measured in and out of a particular region.
Immigration refers to people coming into a country to live and work.
Emigration refers to those leaving a country.
The difference between these two figures is known as net migration.
In the UK for the year ending December 2014, the figures were as follows:
Net migration
Philip Allan Publishers © 2015
Who are the migrants?
Polish people are a significant group, both as immigrants and emigrants.
Many Poles come to the UK to work, as even a poorly paid job in the UK pays more than
most Poles can earn at home.
Many stay for only a limited period and then return to Poland, becoming emigrants.
Poles represent the second-largest group of foreign-born nationals living in the UK.
However, when measuring immigrants by country of birth rather than nationality, the Indian
community remains the largest. This is because of the large number of Indians who take
British nationality.
The most common countries of birth of foreign-born residents in the UK are India, Poland,
Ireland and Pakistan.
UK-born people also figure among the immigrants, as those who have left to live or work
abroad return home.
Philip Allan Publishers © 2015
Why do people migrate?
Reasons for migration are usually divided into ‘push’ or ‘pull’ factors:
•As the name implies, ‘push’ factors are those that persuade people to leave their homeland.
•Similarly, ‘pull’ factors are those features of the country of destination that attract migrants.
Discussion point:
•Identify as many ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors as you can that would help to explain why people
might migrate to the UK.
•Remember that you will be talking about different groups of immigrants.
Philip Allan Publishers © 2015
Push and pull factors
Push factors
Pull factors
Lack of work
Job opportunities
Religious persecution
Religious freedom
Lack of political rights
Democratic rights
Personal safety
Health care
Natural disasters
Family ties
Philip Allan Publishers © 2015
Why do people come to the
Work: In 2013, foreign-born workers made up just over 9% of those in work. The growth
was fastest in relatively low-skilled occupations.
Study: A large number of foreign-born young people come to the UK to study, but their
stay is usually temporary. About 18% of all students in higher education come from
abroad, the largest proportion (almost 20%) from China.
Joining a family member: The rules governing this have been significantly tightened. Any
proposed dependents must have an intermediate level of English and pass the ‘Life in the
UK’ test.
Asylum: Asylum-seekers represent only a very small proportion of immigrants. Around
two-thirds of applications are rejected. Opinion polls repeatedly show that respondents
considerably overestimate the number of asylum-seekers in the population.
Question: Why might people overestimate the numbers in this way?
Philip Allan Publishers © 2015
Attitudes towards immigration
Immigration is a very important political issue in the UK, regularly featuring as one of the
main concerns of voters.
Opponents of immigration tend to hold negative perceptions of the impact of immigrants on
British jobs, crime rates, welfare, public services and culture.
Question: Which political party in the 2015 general election gained much support because
of its stance on this issue?
Research has shown that people tend to be less hostile towards immigration if they know
and mix with people from an ethnic minority group.
Attitudes towards immigration vary by age and social class, with younger people and those
from the higher social classes showing less hostility and concern than older people and
those from the working class.
Question: What explanations might there be for this?
Philip Allan Publishers © 2015
Explanations of attitudes
towards immigration
Three types of explanation have been extensively researched:
•Contact theory: More positive attitudes are found where there is sustained and positive
contact with members of other ethnic, religious or national groups.
•Group conflict theory: Where immigrants appear to threaten the interests, identity or status
of a particular group, those who feel this sense of threat are more likely to oppose
•Economic competition theories: Opposition to immigration is likely to come from:
(a) native workers competing for jobs with immigrant workers who have similar skills
(b) native tax-payers who consider that there is a financial burden on them when
immigrants use public services such as schools and hospitals
Philip Allan Publishers © 2015
Demographic impact of
Populations are likely to grow if:
•there is a high proportion of younger immigrants, especially females of child-bearing age
•fertility rates in the country of origin are higher than those in the host country
Both of these factors occur in current UK immigration patterns. It is estimated that if current
migration trends continue, the cumulative effect of post-2012 immigrants will account for 43%
of the total UK population increase until 2037.
Populations are likely to shrink if large numbers of younger people emigrate, without a
corresponding rise in immigration.
•This happened in Ireland after the Great Famine of the 1840s, where the population shrank
continuously for a century afterwards. In 1911 there were only half as many people in Ireland
as in 1841, with more than half of this decline attributable to emigration.
•Greece is currently experiencing a similar problem, with large numbers of young people
emigrating and very few immigrants arriving to take their place.
Philip Allan Publishers © 2015