Why the Cap Won’t Fit: Global Migration Realities 2010-2050

Drawing on the work of Hein de Haas, from the International Migration Institute (University of Oxford), researchers from the New Economics Foundation (nef) have produced a report entitled “Why the Cap Won’t Fit: Global Migration Realities 2010-2050”. It was launched in Parliament yesterday (Wednesday 23 November).

The authors were at pains to stress this was not an exercise in projection of migrant numbers, more a look at how patterns of migration evolve and how these will change in the next 40 years. Inevitably, there is a tendency to apply these patterns and project for the consequences to be played out in regard to the UK, but on the whole the launch event avoided this trap.

The meeting, long ago planned, had the misfortune to clash directly with Theresa May’s statement to the house on the Migration cap plans.

Reflecting the debates of the day around immigration, the premises for the report is almost entirely economic, hardly surprising coming from a group called the New Economics Foundation in a time where immigration policy is driven by the view point ‘what’s in it for Britain?’. The traditional tools of supply and demand are examined.


In a nutshell, significant emigration from a developing country will happen in the timeframe where people have enough money to emigrate and there exists enough disparity between source and target countries to make migration an attractive proposition economically. Taking these two factors, applying them to countries such as China, India and Nigeria, migration can be expected to fall after 2035 if growth predictions are correct.

Other countries, such as Bangladesh, will not develop at the same rate and will export migrants for longer. n the other side of the equation, the host country of choice merits investigation. In Africa, there already is a discernible tendency to emigrate to countries such as Japan and China rather than to the waning economic powers of the west.


The aging demographic of UK society is leading to an ever growing dependency ration. This ratio is worked out by calculating the number of dependents (children and retired / non-economically active people) and comparing it to working adults. The ratio in the UK now is 6:10 (that’s six dependents to every 10 working adults), in 20 years this is expected to rise to 7.4:10. if immigration were to be stopped entirely this would be 8:10, economically difficult to put it mildly.

The possibility of countries competing to attract more migrants was raised by the authors.


The discussion returned to the repetitive refrain of calls for curbs on the rhetoric of the press when addressing the subject of immigration, and a call for government leadership in a more informed and intelligent debate on the issue.

The report concludes with four principles which should inform immigration policy making:

  • Migration policy should be set with due consideration to long-term trends
  • Policy needs to be understood and pursued within its globalised context
  • Effective management of migration – where this relates to impacts on host and source countries – needs to be a key focus
  • Government rhetoric and media releases on immigration issues should reflect the real long term interests of the country, rather than reinforce misinformed public perceptions for short term political gain.

One might have wished for the Home Secretary and Immigration Minister to be in committee room 8 with a view to developing some understanding of the consequences of their policies instead of unleashing the next round of attacks on immigration.

The report will be available on Friday on the nef website, we’ll stick up a link when it’s posted. In all a good resource that addresses the zeitgeist element of the immigration, but it should be read with the view that immigration is also to be understood in a human rights context.

You can download the report here

About jcwi

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants is a key campaigning voice in the field of immigration, asylum and nationality law and policy. It is completely independent from government funding, remaining entirely free from government influence. View all posts by jcwi

2 responses to “Why the Cap Won’t Fit: Global Migration Realities 2010-2050

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: