UK population growth: is migration to be blamed or applauded?


Is increase in population all that bad? Don’t immigrant workers pay pensions for Brits? Contribute to greater GDP?




pregnant_woman_100100.png 01 July 2011. The Office of National Statistics published today the population estimates for the UK in 2010.

On the 30th June 2010, the population of the UK was estimated to be 62.3 million people, an increase of nearly half million (up 0.8%) on mid-2009: the largest annual increase since 1962 on an average annual growth of 0.6 per cent since 2001.

Both net migration and natural change are behind the big increase in 2010. And both to the same degree.

Whereas from 1999 to 2008, net migration (the difference between long term migration into and out of the UK) was the main driver of population change, since 2008 natural change (the difference between number of births and number of deaths) has overtaken new migration as the main contributor to population growth, with more births occurring and a lower number of deaths.

In 2010 both components gave almost the same contribution to population increase: immigration to the UK accounted for 230,000 people – around 49 per cent of the total. Natural population increase accounted for the remaining 51 per cent – around234,000 people.

Net migration steadily increased since 1999, with more long-term migrants coming into the UK than births in the country, registering a considerable peak in 2005. Most of the increase in net migration since 2009 is due to a fall in long-term migration out of the UK, rather than of incoming migrants.

The number of births has increased partly due to rising fertility among UK-born women and partly because there are more women of childbearing ages due to inflows of female migrants to the UK.



As hatemongers raise fears of overpopulation and stress on the UK welfare system, it is only natural to suggest going beyond the collective irrational.

The current conundrum of Western politics is how to safeguard current welfare standards and the state purse in a context of ageing population – more and more money goes to pensions, while decrease in productivity goes to the detriment of economic production.

Today the news is that birthrates are surging. Now, data suggests that one in four babies are born to foreign mothers – hence the increase in national fertility (yes, long-term residents, albeit born abroad, do make up ‘national’ figures).  More births than deaths. Thus the changed ratio between retired citizens and prospective or already productive citizens (many of whom are immigrants, those who ‘steal British jobs’) goes to the benefit of the State – more workers to pay for increasing pensions; more workers to pay taxes; more workers to produce greater wealth for the country, higher GDP.

As a result, aren’t extra investments in public services for new (immigrant or immigrant-born) citizens precisely that – investments? Aren’t the expenses offset by the benefits?

These are the statistics we’d be interested in.



Rock on bhangra beat with Malkit Singh, Sherry Maan


San Toribio, patron saint of migrants