The state of UK migration statistics and research
John Salt in Home Office discussions
On December 6th Professor John Salt was discussant at a joint Home Office/Royal Statistical Society meeting on UK international migration statistics. There were two papers, one from the Home Office - “Enhancing Home Office Statistics on UK Migration Control” – and one from the ONS – “Developments in the Measuring and Reporting of International Migration Statistics”.
John acknowledged that the Office of National Statistics and Inter-Departmental Migration Statistics Improvement Programme had significantly enhanced the quality, quantity and accessibility of UK migration statistics compared with a few years ago. There were still major problems, however, including:
- the small sample size of the International Passenger Survey data source;
- continuing shortages of emigration data;
- the patchiness of local area data;
- over optimism about the potential contribution of e-borders statistics.
In the longer term, the only step change that could improve the statistics would be the development of a population register, as in many other European countries.
On 12th December John also chaired a discussion at a Home Office European Migration Network seminar on research priorities relating to intra-EU migration. Among the issues requiring further evidence were:
- the real role for government in managing migration;
- the role of universities in a knowledge economy;
- how successful are immigrant entrepreneurs?
- the need for more micro analysis of the experiences of migrants;
- the key role of London in the UK migration system;
- the need for more research on the less skilled in the labour market;
- the role of both large and small employers in recruiting and moving migrants.