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Independent commissions and labour migration: The British MAC


  • Philip L. Martin

    () (Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics, University of California-Davis, 1 Shields Ave, 2101 SSH, Davis, CA 95616, USA)

  • Martin Ruhs

    () (University of Oxford, Compas, Oxford, United Kingdom)


The independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) was created in 2007 after a decade in which the share of foreign-born workers in the British labour force doubled to 13 per cent. The initial core mandate of the MAC was to provide “independent, evidence-based advice to government on specific skilled occupations in the labour market where shortages exist which can sensibly be filled by migration.” The MAC’s answers to these 3-S questions, viz, is the occupation for which employers are requesting foreign workers skilled, are there labour shortages, and is admitting foreign workers a sensible response, have improved the quality of the debate over the “need” for foreign workers in the UK by highlighting some of the important trade-offs inherent in migration policy making. The MAC can clarify migration trade-offs in labour immigration policy, but cannot decide the ultimately political questions about whose interests should be prioritised and how competing policy objectives should be balanced.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip L. Martin & Martin Ruhs, 2014. "Independent commissions and labour migration: The British MAC," Migration Letters, Transnational Press London, UK, vol. 11(1), pages 23-32, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:mig:journl:v:11:y:2014:i:1:p:23-32

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mattoo, Aaditya & Neagu, Ileana Cristina & Özden, Çaglar, 2008. "Brain waste? Educated immigrants in the US labor market," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 255-269, October.
    2. Philip Martin, 2013. "Immigration and Farm Labor: Policy Options and Consequences," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 95(2), pages 470-475.
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