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Brexit or Fixit? The Trade and Welfare Effects of Leaving the European Union


  • G.I.P. Ottaviano
  • Joao Paulo Pessoa
  • Thomas Sampson
  • John Van Reenen


Since a speech by the Prime Minister in January 2013 , the Conservative party has been committed to holding a referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union (EU) in 2017. So this is a good moment to consider what would be the likely economic effects on the UK from such a move (commonly called 'Brexit').Eurosceptics emphasise greater national sovereignty from Brexit while Europhiles tend to focus on the importance of ever greater unity to reduce the risks of the political conflicts that ravaged Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. These are important matters, but this analysis focuses on the more mundane (but quantifiable) economic issues, especially trade. The costs and benefits of the UK leaving the EU are complex. Losses due to trade alone could be very substantial. Even under very optimistic assumptions, the sum of the static and dynamic trade losses would be almost 2.2% of GDP. More pessimistic calculations would lead to a long-term loss of almost a tenth of national income. The dream of splendid isolation may turn out to be a very costly one indeed.

Suggested Citation

  • G.I.P. Ottaviano & Joao Paulo Pessoa & Thomas Sampson & John Van Reenen, 2014. "Brexit or Fixit? The Trade and Welfare Effects of Leaving the European Union," CEP Policy Analysis Papers 016, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:ceppap:016

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christian Dustmann & Tommaso Frattini & Caroline Halls, 2010. "Assessing the Fiscal Costs and Benefits of A8 Migration to the UK," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 31(1), pages 1-41, March.
    2. Tommaso Frattini, 2012. "Immigrazione," Rivista di Politica Economica, SIPI Spa, issue 3, pages 363-407, July-Sept.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Brexit: how big an issue?
      by chris in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2016-02-22 18:27:38
    2. (Mildly) against Brexit
      by chris in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2016-02-28 18:13:09


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    Cited by:

    1. Ohr Renate, 2015. "Europäische Integration am Wendepunkt? Zum möglichen Austritt Großbritanniens aus der EU / European integration at a turning point? Consequences of a British exit for the EU," ORDO. Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, De Gruyter, vol. 66(1), pages 99-114, January.
    2. repec:pal:compes:v:59:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1057_s41294-017-0023-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:gam:jeners:v:10:y:2017:i:12:p:2143-:d:123111 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Xing, Lizhi & Dong, Xianlei & Guan, Jun, 2017. "Global industrial impact coefficient based on random walk process and inter-country input–output table," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 471(C), pages 576-591.
    5. Nauro F Campos & Fabrizio Coricelli, 2017. "EU Membership, Mrs Thatcher’s Reforms and Britain’s Economic Decline," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 59(2), pages 169-193, June.

    More about this item


    Trade; European Union; welfare;

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F17 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Forecasting and Simulation
    • F60 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - General

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