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Emigration from the UK, 1870 1998

  • HATTON, TIMOTHY J.

The international labour market has not been ‘globalised’ to the same degree over the last 40 years as have international markets for goods and capital. Immigration policies in developed economies clearly hinder the mobility of labour. But how much difference does it actually make? This paper compares emigration from Britain to four principal destinations in the era of free migration before 1914 with emigration to the same places since the 1960s. As the doors were kept open to British emigrants for longer than most, the ‘deglobalisation’ of British labour only dates from the 1960s. Since that time there has been a secular fall in British emigration, and this has been a major component in the transformation of the UK from a country of net emigration to one of net immigration. Before 1914 the economic and demographic forces that drove British emigration can be clearly identified. The same effects, applied to the later period, suggest that mass emigration from Britain should have continued until the early 1990s. But from the mid 1960s these influences became less powerful as they were increasingly inhibited by immigration policies in the principal destination countries. The decline in emigration is largely accounted for by shifts in policy, especially those that curtailed or abolished the preferences previously extended to settlers from the UK.

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal European Review of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 8 (2004)
Issue (Month): 02 (August)
Pages: 149-171

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Handle: RePEc:cup:ereveh:v:8:y:2004:i:02:p:149-171_00
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  1. Chiswick, Barry R. & Hatton, Timothy J., 2002. "International Migration and the Integration of Labor Markets," IZA Discussion Papers 559, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1998. "The Age of Mass Migration: Causes and Economic Impact," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195116519, March.
  3. Alan G. Green & David A. Green, 1999. "The Economic Goals of Canada's Immigration Policy, Past and Present," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 25(4), pages 425-451, December.
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