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CEP occasional paper

Assimilation of Migrants into the British Labour Market


This paper discusses the extent to which migrants to Britain have been assimilated into the workforce. Migration into Britain has increased over the last 25 years, with a big increase in inflows in recent years. The paper shows that when a migrant worker first arrives they experience a pay gap with native born counterparts of over 30% for men and 15% for women. This pay penalty declines with years spent in Britain. For migrant men it takes 20 years to eradicate this difference; for migrant women just 4-6 years. Different nationalities experience different rates of assimilation, with Europeans catching up the fastest but Asian men showing little signs of catching up at all. More recent entry cohorts of migrants have fared better but this is largely because they enter with a smaller pay penalty rather than experience faster wage growth.


Richard Dickens and Abigail McKnight

October 2008     Paper Number CEPOP22

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This CEP occasional paper is published under the centre's Labour markets programme.