Labour Research January 2016

Equality news

Benefits of migration

Migrants to the UK act as “transnational economic entrepreneurs” and “transnational economic activists”, helping to promote economic development in their home countries while also contributing to the economy in the UK, according to a recent academic study. 

Researchers at London Metropolitan University on the EU-funded ITHACA project examined the experience of both integration and transnational engagement among Indian, Bosnian, Filipino and Ukrainian migrants to the UK. Many had established businesses with trading links to their countries of origin. 

Others brought important skills or filled gaps in the labour market while maintaining close ties with their home countries. 

Business owners and other migrants in professional, technical and managerial roles had also transferred cash and other resources to boost development in their origin countries. Examples included donations for schools, orphanages and local charities. 

The World Bank has calculated the value of international remittance payments — money transferred to their countries of origin by migrants — to be $586 billion in 2015. This is three times the value of global development aid. 

The ITHACA study found that migrant workers in the UK who were on permanent contracts or members of trade unions were more likely to send money home. 

In terms of benefits to the host country, official reports and academic studies have indicated that increased migration has contributed to higher than otherwise economic growth in the UK.But tighter immigration and visa controls are leading to warnings that this could lead to highly skilled migrants going elsewhere. 

The project report cited complaints from UK-based Indians about suffering humiliating experiences at UK border controls and being required to apply for new visas every time they leave the country. 

Several respondents in highly skilled jobs said they were considering moving to other countries such as the USA and Canada where they expected better treatment.

Migration routes among those covered by the study varied. These included representatives of the several thousand Bosnians who were settled in the UK as refugees in the 1990s, and who have gone on to contribute to UK society in a number of ways, including as business owners, while also contributing to philanthropic initiatives in Bosnia.