How Migration Watch misleads

IN HER REPORT for the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), Sarah Mulley has analysed the claims made by Migration Watch, and given huge prominence by the Mail, Express, Telegraph … and EDL and BNP, that “Foreigners get 77% of new jobs in Britain”.

Immigration and Employment: Anatomy of a media story:
http://www.ippr.org/publicationsandreports/publication.asp?id=769

Migration Watch used Office for National Statistics (ONS) data for April-June 2010. Mulley’s careful analysis of these data is very revealing. For example (just two of many):

* Migration Watch used “country of birth” data, rather than nationality, to produce their figures. Had they chosen to look at nationality, they’d have found only a miniscule fall in employment levels for British nationals (0.4%).

* Their analysis tries to use the data to feed the rightwing thesis that “the difference between UK nationals and migrants is that Brits would rather live on benefits than work”. The data in no way support this – but it gives us an important insight into how anti-immigrant sentiment is now being used to drive pro-cuts, anti-welfare policies (i.e., the real purpose of anti-immigrant politics, many would argue).

Mulley says:

To demonstrate that immigration has damaged the employment prospects of UK workers, MigrationWatch would have needed to conduct some much more rigorous econometric modelling, controlling for a range of other factors (e.g. skill levels in different areas, variations in the age profile of different populations) and establishing statistically significant results.

Luckily for us, we don’t need to rely on MigrationWatch to do this –
a number of academic and government studies have done exactly this kind of econometric modelling. They are summed up in a paper by my colleagues Maria Latorre and Howard Reed:

“In short, the best available UK microeconomic evidence on the effects of migration on employment finds either no effect at all, or very small negative effects.”

This conclusion is also supported by a wide range of research in other OECD countries.

Many thanks to Bridget for flagging this report.

Bob Hughes

[tags migrationwatch, ippr, daily_mail, racism, media, disinformation]

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