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CEP Occasional Paper
Jonathan Wadsworth
November 2019
Paper No' CEPOP47:
Full Paper (pdf)

Immigration remains a highly contentious issue and its purported effects on the labour market and the wider economy are still highly contested. The discussion below is intended as an overview of what we know and what we do not know about immigration to the UK and its economic effects, and the possible direction of future migration policy. Economists have long understood that immigration is influenced by individual assessments of the costs and benefits of a move to another country. Individuals can decide to move and indeed leave or migrate elsewhere if economic and/or political conditions shift in favour of migration to other countries. The number of immigrants in the UK is a reflection of a series of economic and political events that have made the UK relatively more or less attractive to migrants over time. Equally, the attractiveness of the UK to migrants from outside the UK is influenced by relative economic circumstances but also by the relative costs of entry embodied in the visa and entry system.