CS4 - Emigration from the UK
Is the UK still a country of emigration?

1. A long-established tradition
- Until the middle of the 1980s British emigration outnumbered immigration to the UK. In a globalised world, Britain is consequently a major migration hub both attracting inflows and generating worldwide outflows of migrants
=> British expat communities form a worldwide diaspora located in the Commonwealth (Australia or India) or other former colonies such as the USA or Hong Kong (retroceded to emerging China in 1998).
British emigrants are mostly skilled workers dissatisfied with their work or quality of life looking for new challenges and seize the opportunity for a better standard of living and a new life abroad.

2. The case of re-emigration
• Students, the major trend
- Circular migration is mainly due to student migrants attracted by and accepted in prestigious Oxford or Cambridge universities and schools like the London School of Economics. Their spending (expensive tuitions fees & living expenses) are a major contribution to the UK economy. The current trend is the increase in Chinese and Singapore students with numbers now nearly equal to EU students.
- Most of them go back to their country of birth after an average five year stay in the UK and only a minority apply for and get a work visa to legally remain in the UK.
• The case of the A8 workers
- Since 2004, when 8 Eastern European countries joined the EU, A8 workers, especially from Poland, making the most of the transport revolution, emigrated to the UK attracted by the economic growth, low unemployment and strong currency of a more developed country, creating the scare of the “Polish builder” (“invasion” by cheaper labour taking the jobs of honest British workers).
- However, the 2008 global financial crisis weakened the UK economy while Polish economic growth and employment improved. Consequently many Polish workers re-emigrated back to Poland.

3. A new trend: amenity migration
• The democratisation of lifestyle migration
- More and more Britons are emigrating to France. At first, it involved affluent elites retiring on the continent but middle-class families progressively arrived, working mostly in rural areas.
- Democratization is boosted by hard facts : a better connectivity (Ryan Air effect), economic reasons (lower housing prices) and a better Welfare State. British lifestyle magazines and TV series also give an idyllic image of France focusing on natural assets (climate, landscape) and perceived cultural (gastronomy, French way of life) benefits, presenting an ideal high quality of life.
• Its impact in France
So integration tends to be difficult, especially when not speaking French (‘Everybody speaks English’). British expats concentrate in the same areas (the Dordogne) sometimes forming closed communities and many disappointed Britons re-emigrate to the UK. Those who stay revitalize small towns and villages boosting their population and economy.