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Migration and British cities in the 1990s

Tony Champion
National Institute Economic Review
No. 170 (October 1999), pp. 60-77
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23872638
Page Count: 18
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Migration and British cities in the 1990s
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Abstract

This article examines the scale and nature of the impact of 1990s migration on the populations of the eight largest conurbations in Britain, with particular reference to their labour markets. It shows that all these cities have been performing more strongly in demographic terms than in the 1980s, but London has seen by far the biggest upward shift in rate of population change. The change has come about principally due to increased net immigration from overseas, for though the urban exodus to the rest of the UK was at a low point at the beginning of the decade, it has subsequently returned to its long-term of average of 90–100,000 a year net loss. The article goes on to look – in as much detail as the available data allows – at the composition of both within-Britain and overseas migration, focusing especially on its industrial and occupational characteristics. The 'net urban exodus' is found to be skewed towards the more skilled and generally wealthier sections of the population, especially in the case of the provincial conurbations. Similarly, the net gains from mainstream international movements are biased towards more qualified people, notably students but also professional and managerial workers, helping to some extent to offset the effects of the urban exodus. There is, however, no detailed information about the asylum seekers and 'visitor switchers' that are now contributing a significant share of overall net immigration, especially for London, and it is also extremely difficult to gauge the effects of emigration on cities. Given the importance of migration for British cities in the 1990s and projected for the next two decades, there is an urgent need for the improvement of data sources on migrants' characteristics and for the more systematic analysis of the migration component of labour market change.

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