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SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper

The Long Term Impacts of Migration in British Cities: Diversity, Wages, Employment and Prices


British cities are becoming more culturally diverse, with migration a main driver. Is this growing diversity good for urban economies? This paper explores, using a new 16-year panel of UK cities. Over time, net migration affects both local labour markets and the wider economy. Average labour market impacts appear neutral. Dynamic effects may be positive on UK-born workers’ productivity and wages (via production complementarities for higher skill workers) or negative on employment (if migrants progressively displace lower-skill natives from specific sectors). The results, which survive causality checks, suggest both processes are operating in British cities. Long-term industrial decline and casualisation of entry-level jobs help explain the employment findings.


Max Nathan

February 2011     Paper Number SERCDP0067

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