UK has significantly underestimated immigration from Eastern Europe during the last decade


According to the UK office of national statistics, the true extent of UK immigration during the last decade has been underestimated by more than 350 000 people. The main reason for this is misleading data that came from the International Passenger Survey.

The ONS has recently completed a review of immigration from the EU particularly after 2004 when eight new nations joined the European Union. It turned out that during the years 2004 – 2008 the statistics were done by using data only from major airports such as Gatwick and Heathrow, rather than from all airports in the UK.

After 2008 the data gathering was improved to incorporate all of the airports in the country. The fact that incomplete data was used means that ONS has underestimated the net immigration number by around 35 000 people per year. The ONS now believes that net immigration was about 275,000 a year over the decade, up from the previous estimate of about 240,000 a year.

The error probably will heat up the current immigration debate that is raging in the United Kingdom. It is caused by the fact that the EU elections are approaching and most of the UK electorate is opposed to the mass-immigration that comes from within EU and particularly from Eastern Europe.

These attitudes have given a significant political boost to right-wing anti-EU parties such as the United Kingdom Independence Party led by Nigel Farage. In 2004, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the CzechRepublic, Slovakia, and Slovenia joined the European Union.

Many opponents of immigration have raised that point that there is a high probability that a lot of people from these new countries will come to the UK and will flood the local labour market, which will lead to lower wages and higher unemployment among local UK citizens. Proponents of immigration on the other side have argued that it is important in order to sustain the increased economic growth.

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