A BBC report, released this week, examined the numbers of Brits leaving the UK, based on studies by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).
The report suggests:
· At least 5.5m British-born people live abroad, which is almost one in 10 of British citizens
· 107,000 Brits left the UK last year, which is 2000 people per week
· 40% were classified as ‘professional/managerial’
Continued Immigration is vital
One implication is that, if professionals and managers are leaving, we need continued immigration to redress the balance.
Where do they go?
The majority of expats live in Australia, Spain, the US and other English speaking nations.
A growing number are choosing North America
· 1.3 million ex-pat Brits live in the USA and Canada – the same number as can be found in Australia.
· 24% of Brits in the USA are thought to be pensioners.
· 2,500 Britons live part of their year in Mexico.
However, 41 nations have at least 10,000 permanent British residents, which suggests Brits are increasingly choosing more diverse destinations.
Increasing numbers are heading for the major Asian economies, which already have thriving populations of expat Brits:
· UAE (including Dubai): 55,000
· Pakistan: 47,000
· Singapore: 45,000
· Thailand: 41,000
· China: 36,000
The rate of Emigration is increasing
Over the course of 40 years, some 67,500 more Britons have left the UK every year than have returned – a population loss that has been balanced out by increasing immigration.
The number of British citizens who chose to go permanently abroad doubled from 53,000 in 2001 to 107,000 last year – some 2,000 people a week.
Earlier this year, a BBC survey on emigration attitudes found the number hoping to leave in the near future had doubled since 2003.
Who is leaving?
According to the IPPR’s research, those most likely to leave the UK are young workers without families, along with those seeking to retire. The breakdown is as follows:
· 40% professional/managerial
· 25.3% manual/clerical
· 17.5% retired/carers
· 9.3% children
· 7.9% students
Why are they leaving?
According to the authors of the report, the scale and spread of the British emigration was probably being driven by the UK’s economic strength. A strong economy was attracting economic immigrants – but also encouraging Brits to broaden their opportunities. Young people were the most likely to want to leave, with a quarter saying they were hoping to live abroad.
“Britain is truly at the crossroads of the global movement of people,” said Dr Sriskandarajah, co-author of the report.
“Two-thirds of Britons who leave do so to seek employment abroad – and are replaced by skilled professionals from elsewhere in the world.
“If current trends continue, we could expect as many as a million more British nationals to emigrate over the next five years,” he said.
Immigration balances the figures
Figures suggest the rate of departure has been so great that population falls are only masked by immigration.
Sir Andrew Green, of Migrationwatch UK, said the departure of British citizens should be seen against an annual arrival of some 300,000 immigrants.
“This net migration is the key issue – that is those who come minus those who go,” he said.
“We now face by far the largest wave of immigration since 1066, even allowing for those who emigrate. This is putting enormous strain on our infrastructure, public services and on social cohesion.”
Lord Triesman, Foreign Office Minister for Consular Affairs, said he welcomed the report.
“Globalisation has increased movement of people both to and from the UK,” he said.
“The policy challenges are how to manage these flows effectively in order to respond to the changing needs of the UK. This research will be helpful in understanding how best to address those challenges.”