June 12, 2023
In the past, the UK has maintained a steady flow of migration into the economy. The Brexit vote in 2016 led to a fall in the net EU migration, but recently, there has been a sharp rise in the non-EU net migration to the UK. This current mass migration in the UK will significantly impact the UK economy. But will the effect be negative, positive, or both? Read on to explore the economic and legal impacts of mass migration.

How Does Net Migration Affect the UK Economy? 

There are an estimated 1.2 million immigrants to Britain in 2022 alone, leading to mass migration. Although non-EU immigrants eventually leave the UK after a few years of work or study, this still has an immediate impact on the economy.

Increase in Real GDP and Aggregate Demand

The mass influx of people to the UK may lead to an increase in labour supply, total spending within the UK economy, and demand for labour. All these, put together, will increase the total demand for domestic goods and services in the UK. 

Furthermore, net migration also eventually leads to a rise in real GDP. This is due to increased economic spending, making economic growth more significant. 

In simple terms, the increase in the number of people in the UK leads to more access to labour, higher productivity, which means that more goods will be produced, leading to an increase in GDP. 

Increase in the Labor Force

When people move to a foreign country, it is most likely for work or study. So migrants are usually of working age even though they may bring descendants. Generally, mass migration increases the labour force and the economy’s maximum production capacity. There may also be a decrease in the overall dependency level since the working-age population may be far greater than the aging population that needs their support.

Impact on Particular Sectors

One of the common reasons for net migration is the quest for higher education; in 2019/2020, there were over five hundred thousand international students in the UK, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Although the students may not be part of the long-term migration trends, the short-term effects of their migration are also significant.

The London Economic Analysis estimated that students from 2018 to 2019 made a significant contribution of net £25.9 billion to the UK economy. These contributions will go a long way to finance the higher education of domestic students. 

Labour Market Flexibility

During the mid-2000s, the UK experienced a large inflow of workers from Eastern European countries like Poland because immigrants were particularly attracted to a place where they felt they had more job opportunities, which could create a more flexible labour market. 

There will be people to meet the high demand for semi-skilled jobs, such as plumbers, builders, etc. However, aside from these skilled jobs, specific sectors have experienced shortfalls in job vacancies over the years. For example, nursing, law, medicine, etc. are sectors which are in particular demand. The government may also seize this opportunity to attract migrants from various countries to fill these gaps. 

Social Issues

Even though the UK net migration has many positive impacts on the economy, it also has some downsides, the most common one being the social issues and concerns about the quality of life in the UK. 

There have been a number of concerns over overcrowding and the decline in the nation’s standard of living as a result. The UK is already facing a housing shortage and green space is becoming increasingly scarce. Constructing more roads has also becoming more of a challenge due to the limited space available and lack of resources. 

The increased population will most certainly increase urban congestion and pollution. Still, if the increase in real GDP is worth more than the depreciating quality of life in the UK, the government might seek to continue with the net migration. 

Positive Impact on the Dependency Ratio

With the naturally aging population of the UK, there is an expected increase in the dependency ratio (which represents the population of the UK that depends on the working age for survival) and mass migration has significantly helped to reduce that ratio. Since migrants are more likely to be young or working-age people, their immigration to the UK will help reduce the ratio of old and retired people to working people.

This younger population has many benefits to the UK economy. If migrants are of working age, they will pay VAT and income tax. In addition, the pension gap will be filled by the contributions of a younger generation of workers. 

Increase in Unemployment

Mass immigration in the UK may first push down wages because workers will be willing to accept lower wages for jobs due to increased competition when the labour may become higher than the demand. This may lead to an increase in unemployment, affecting citizens and immigrants alike. 


Immigration Law in the UK

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Does the Law Permit Mass Migration in the UK?

Who is allowed to enter or remain in the UK is a primary focus of British immigration policy. These policies encompass a wide range of contemporary policy areas. The Department of UK Visas and Immigration is responsible for immigration policy in the United Kingdom and a points-based immigration system is used which grants economic migrants work visas based on their personal characteristics and qualifications. 

What Law Students Should Know

  • Immigrants have rights

Unlawful discrimination against immigrants based on race, national origin, religion, sex, handicap, and age is prohibited by law in many areas, including work, education, housing, and public accommodations (such as restaurants and hotels).

  • Illegal migration has never been permitted

Immigrants that enter the United Kingdom unlawfully should not be allowed to stay here, and the Illegal Migration Bill makes that point crystal clear. Instead, they will be imprisoned and sent back home or to a secure country where asylum claims can be reviewed as soon as possible.

  • Illegal immigrants may not have the right to citizenship

The Illegal Migration Bill of 2023 would make it more difficult for former removal duty subjects to become legal permanent residents or citizens of the United Kingdom.

Lawyers specialising in immigration law interpret the law, advise clients on their legal options, and represent them in court. Therefore, with the recent mass migration in the UK, there will be an increase in the demand for immigration lawyers’ services. This calls for expertise in every aspect of immigration law and how it affects these migrants.

It would be best if immigrants understand their rights and fate in the eyes of UK law. This could help them make better decisions regarding whether or not to stay in the UK.

By Marvis Osarhenrhen


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