Where Will the British Go? And why?

Abstract

Objective: Immigration is a highly salient political issue. The focus has primarily been on the publics’ attitudes towards immigrants. We examine the migration preferences of potential emigrants from the UK to determine whether the migration calculus is primarily economic or political. Methods: A conjoint survey experiment conducted with UK subjects drawn from the CESS, Nuffield College, Oxford University, student subject pool to identify causal drivers of emigration preferences. Results: Logit estimation of emigration preferences indicates that economics and politics matters. Anti-immigrant rhetoric, Trumpian policies, and the USA deter high-skilled UK potential emigrants; economic growth, education, and social benefits attract them. Politics and social benefits are more important for those on the political left while economics and education weigh more heavily for those on the right. Conclusion: What will attract the highly-skilled migrants from a post-Brexit UK? Economics matters of course but for many of these potential emigrants politics is important – they are particularly sensitive to anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Publication
Social Science Quarterly
Date