The Economic Impact of Brexit-induced Reductions in Migration (with Jonathan Portes, King's College London)
Two issues dominated the UK's Brexit referendum debate: immigration and the economy. The nature of discussion of these two topics was very different, and to a large extent compartmentalised. During the campaign, there was extensive discussion of the economic impact of Brexit on the UK economy. Detailed projections, under different scenarios for the post-Brexit UK-EU relationship, were produced by HM Treasury, the IMF and OECD, among others (HM Treasury, 2016; International Monetary Fund, 2016; OECD, 2016). However, most of these projections did not incorporate the economic impact of changes in migration to the UK (if they did, falls in migration were only thought of as fall in labour force); they focused on trade (and to some extent investment) impacts. As one of us pointed out at the time, there was little or no analytical justification for this omission (Portes, 2016). The purpose of this paper is to make progress towards filling that gap, using a broadly similar methodology and approach to that used in the trade-based analyses. Our results are therefore, at a high level, comparable. We analyse the impact of Brexit on migration flows to the UK in both the short and long term, and provide plausible, empirically-based estimates of the likely impacts on growth, employment and wages. The first paper outlines the results of our research that can be of policy and public interest. A second paper will follow detailing the methodology employed to obtain these results and explaining how and where our methodology differs from that of traditional gravity-based analyses that have been employed, with alternating success, over the years.