The Economic Impact of Brexit-induced Reductions in Migration

Publication date: 7 Dec 2016 | Publication type: Report | Theme: Exiting the EU & Britain after Brexit

Two issues dominated the UK's Brexit referendum debate: immigration and the economy. But the nature of discussion of these two topics was very different, and to a large extent compartmentalised. During the campaign, there was extensive discussion of the economic impact of Brexit on the UK economy. Detailed projections, under different scenarios for the post-Brexit UK-EU relationship, were produced by HM Treasury, the
IMF and OECD, among others (HM Treasury, 2016; International Monetary Fund, 2016; OECD, 2016).
However, none of these projections incorporated the economic impact of changes in migration to the UK; they focused on trade (and to some extent investment) impacts.
As one of us pointed out at the time, there was little or no analytical justification for this omission (Portes, 2016a). The purpose of this paper is to make progress towards filling that gap, using a broadly similar methodology and approach to that used in the trade-based analyses. Our results are therefore, at a high level, comparable.
We analyse the impact of Brexit on migration flows to the UK in both the short and long term, and provide plausible, empirically-based estimates of the likely impacts on growth, employment and wages.