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UK Migration

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Migration has been a part of human society for thousands of years. It has been the cause of much tension and conflict. This is why it is crucial to understand why migration happens, how it affects both the host and home countries, and how migrants have shaped their new homes over time.

Migration is the act of moving from one area to another, sometimes within or across countries.

What is internal migration and how has it affected the UK?

Internal migration is the act of moving within a country. This could be between cities or from a rural area to an urban one. Within the UK, this has had a number of effects including:

  • Deindustrialisation.
  • Young workers.
  • Regional variations in population.
  • Average age by region.

Deindustrialisation

Since deindustrialisation began in the 60s, a large number of people have moved from north to south with an estimated three million young workers making their way towards areas they thought had higher-quality and higher-paying jobs.

UK Migration, Deindustrialisation, StudySmarterWith older industries beginning to reduce across the UK, many new jobs open in other types of industries, Pixabay

Young workers

Because of higher quality jobs in urban areas, a lot of young, talented workers move from certain areas to others. Some of the most common areas in England experiencing the loss of young workers are the North West and North East of England, The West Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber. The places that have gained the most include the South East and the South West.

Regional variations in population

All of the UK has seen a growth in population, but internal migration has seen some places grow faster than others.

  • Populations in East and South East England increased by 0.8% annually between 2004 and 2014.
  • London has grown around 1.4% every year.
  • Scotland, Wales, the North East, and North West all grew by 0.5% each year.

The clear main growth is London with a lot of the UK's younger workers moving there for better employment opportunities.

Average age by region

While the UK does have an aging population overall (higher numbers of old people), there are some areas that have very different age averages. Going from youngest to oldest average:

  • London – 34
  • Scotland, North East & North West – 40-41
  • South West – 42.9

There are some clear contributors to this with London being a hotspot for young workers and the South West being a popular retirement area.

What is international migration and how does it affect the UK?

International migration involves people moving somewhere from a different country. In the case of the UK, there are a few recent reasons for international migration and multiple historical factors. Each has affected how the UK has developed. In recent times three main groups have moved to the UK:

  • A8 countries.
  • Polish and Lithuanian.
  • East African.

Historically, people from the Indian sub-continent are one of the largest groups to move to the UK, alongside the Windrush generation.

UK net migration

Overall, hundreds of thousands of people move into and out of the UK each year with at least 500,000 people migrating to the country annually. This amount is added into a formula to determine the UK's net migration which is the number of people moving out of the country taken away from those moving in. This results usually in positive numbers in developed countries with the UK averaging around 300,000 in net migration, resulting in a growing population. In places such as Syria however, their net migration is often negative due to a large number of people moving out and few people moving in.

A8 Countries

In 2004, eight countries joined the EU and as a result, many migrants moved to the UK in search of employment and higher quality of life. Many of these migrants moved to rural areas as there were many job opportunities. Areas such as northern Scotland had fish processing, catching, and packaging jobs filled whilst Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire saw much of the food and farming industry filled by new workers.

These eight countries were:

  • Poland
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Estonia
  • Hungary
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Czech Republic

UK Migration, Europe A8 Countries, StudySmarterWhile migrants arrive from all over the world, a large majority come from Europe in the case of the UK. Pixabay

Polish and Lithuanian

Eastern European countries have caused more migrants to move to the UK in recent times. Whilst the A8 is a collection of many countries, Poland and Lithuania make up a large movement of migrants all on their own.

East African

Much like the previous two, East African families and workers move to the UK in hope of improving their quality of life. The most common country people move from is Somalia.

Historical groups

The most important historical influence of migration on the UK is the Windrush generation. After Britain's colonial rule broke down, immigrants moved to the UK from the 50s to the 70s. These colonies were across much of the world and in the modern-day, these migrants have had grandchildren and spread across most of the country.

The other main group was from the Indian subcontinent and has been moving to the UK for many years. In recent years, a large portion of the population of the UK has ancestors from these countries.

UK migration statistics

All statistics are from the UK government website.

There were 830,969 visas granted in the year ending June 2021,

In the year previous, there were 61% more, the main reason being because of the pandemic.

Of those visas, 35% were for study, 26% were to visit, 21% were to work, 6% were for family, and 13% were for other reasons.

Alongside this, there were 19.6 million passenger arrivals which was an 81% decrease from the previous year due to pandemic restrictions.

There were 108,773 decisions to settle in the UK that year which was an increase of 26% from the previous year.

What is clear from these statistics is that whilst the pandemic did impact the majority of visitors to the UK, those who decided to settle were clearly higher than the previous year.

Migration services in the UK

The main service or system that works in the UK is that of the visa system. Anybody coming to the UK for work must fit a set of requirements which give them points. By getting enough points, they can enter the country with a note to employers to say they are a good worker. The requirements for these points include having an already high-level job, speaking English, and having been offered a job in the country already.

Those visiting for less than six months do not have to apply for a visa but those coming to the UK for work, education, or migration will have to apply before they move and pass a visa test.

Migration solution in the UK

The UK's migration system could be improved. Currently, freedoms can be exploited. Many workers come into the UK and receive incredibly low pay for their work. This is something that much of the UK's workforce struggles with but for migrants, this can be incredibly damaging.

Another improvement is that of social safety; many forces including certain government officials, social groups, and stereotypes have made it much harder for migrants to easily fit into the UK's society. This, alongside a lack of safety for some migrants in the case of deportation, leaves many in fear. An improvement to this is necessary if the UK wishes to invite more people into the country.

UK Migration - Key takeaways

  • Internal migration is the act of people moving inside a country and has affected the UK with changing industries and the flow of young workers to urban areas.
  • International migration is anybody moving into or out of a country, this has a plethora of effects and has happened throughout history.

UK Migration

To look for better employment or a higher quality of life for themselves or their family, 

Hundreds of thousands, whilst the specific number is hard to find out, at least 500,000 people migrate each year.

Most UK immigrants come from A8 countries or other European countries. As well as this, many arrive from the Indian Sub-continent and Eastern Africa.

Migration has diversified the UK. Many new cultures have been introduced to the UK through the migration of people from people outside of the UK. 


Internal migration has led to a high population in the South of England compared to the North of England.

While migration has resulted in some prejudice and discrimination against migrants, migration has been good for the UK. Much of the agriculture industries relies on migrant workers to harvest food in the UK. Also, migrants have enriched culture in the UK. 

Final UK Migration Quiz

Question

How many main effects does Internal Migration have on the UK?

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Answer

4: Deindustrialisation, Young Workers, Regional Variations in Population and Average Age by Region

Show question

Question

What is Internal Migration?

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Answer

The act of moving inside a country, it can be between cities or from an urban area to a rural one.

Show question

Question

Has Deindustrialisation caused young workers to move North or South?


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Answer

South

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Question

Which areas have gained the most young workers?


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Answer

The South East and South West.

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Question

How much does London’s population grow each year?


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Answer

1.4%

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Question

Which region has the oldest average age? London, Scotland or the South West?


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Answer

The South West

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Question

Why does London have such a young average age of 34?


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Answer

Because many young workers move to the city from across the country.

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Question

What is the name of the group of countries that joined the EU in 2004? A6, A8 or A10?


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Answer

A8

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Question

Which of the following is not a country in the A8? Lithuania, Slovenia, Hungary or France?


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Answer

France

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Question

How many people move into the UK each year?


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Answer

Approximately 130,000 (in 2020)

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Question

Which of the three main groups that have moved to the UK is missing? A8 countries, Polish and Lithuanian.


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Answer

East African

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Question

What is the most common country from East Africa whose population migrates to the UK?


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Answer

Somalia

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Question

From which decades did people begin to move to the UK after colonial rule break down?

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Answer

50s to 70s

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Question

From which subcontinent does the UK receive a large amount of migrants?


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Answer

Indian

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Question

True or false? People moved from East African countries, such as Somalia, for a better quality of life?


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Answer

True

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Question

Which two Eastern European countries, that are not part of the A8, make up a large movement of migrants?


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Answer

Poland and Lithuania

Show question

Question

Which industries in Northern Scotland had their jobs filled by migrants?


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Answer

Fishing, fish processing and fish packaging

Show question

Question

True or False? Lincolnshire had the education industry filled with new migrant workers. 

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Answer

False, they filled the food and farming industry.

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Question

What is the name for the group of migrants who moved to the UK in the mid 20th century from the Caribbean?


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Answer

Windrush Generation

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Question

Define International Migration


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Answer

International Migration is the act of somebody moving to another country.

Show question

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