What's happening to immigration post-Brexit?
As far back as August I predicted that Brexit (among other factors) would lead to a sharp fall in EU migration. There are tentative - but only that - signs of that in today’s data – although it’s very early days yet. The official immigration statistics released today only go up to the quarter ending in June, and therefore tell us nothing about post-referendum developments (although there is no evidence of any pre-referendum surge). However, the accompanying DWP statistics on National Insurance Numbers issued to foreign nationals cover the quarter ending in September. Here the numbers have certainly flattened off but there’s no sharp fall yet.
Put alongside the latest labour market statistics, which also show the number of those in employment in the UK who were born in the EU flattening off, and what should we conclude? I still think that, having clearly peaked, a significant decline is now likely. What does this mean for the UK economy? As I explained last week, while the OBR’s analysis of the impact of reduced migration on growth and public finances attracted a lot of attention, it was back-of-the-envelope at best: based neither on an empirical forecast of future migration nor on the latest research of the impact of migration on growth and productivity. Next week, in research to be presented to the British Academy/Oxford Review of Economic Policy conference on Brexit and the UK economy, I will attempt (in a preliminary and tentative way) to begin to remedy this deficiency..