This bulletin summarises the main findings of analysis into the characteristics of short-term migrants. It looks at; what the main patterns of migration are; who is migrating; where they are migrating to and; why they are migrating.
International Passenger Survey estimates are used to analyse short-term migration to and from England and Wales. A short-term migrant is defined as someone who changes their country of residence for between 1 and 12 months. Within this definition further breakdowns are made including totals for those who meet the UN definition; changing the country of usual residence for between 3 and 12 months for the purpose of work or study. All analysis refers to 1-12 month stays and all reasons for visit.
The ONS also publishes figures on long-term migrants to the UK. Statistics on travel and tourism and visits to the UK are published by ONS. There is no overlap between long and short-term migrants. However visitors include some short-term migrants. These statistics are not directly comparable to the short-term migration statistics for various reasons. For example the geography covered is UK rather than England and Wales and the length of visit category is 15 nights to 1 year rather than 30 nights to 1 year.
The total number of 1-12 month short-term migrants entering England and Wales from outside the UK was 996,000 in the year to mid-2010; continuing to decline from the peak of 1,437,000 reached in mid-2006. However the number of 1-12 month short-term migrants emigrating from England and Wales has increased from 2,554,000 in mid-2009 to 2,622,000 in mid-2010. This is continuing the general upward trend seen since mid-2004. The only reduction in the period was between mid-2008 and mid-2009.
Inflows and outflows of 3-12 month short-term migrants have remained relatively steady at approximately 290,000 and 400,000 since mid-2004 with inflows being consistently lower than outflows, although the inflow of 3-12 month short-term migrants was 214,000 in mid-2010, slightly lower than previous years. The outflow was 388,000 in mid-2010.
The short-term net migrant stock figure, calculated using information on length of stay for 1-12 months is -247,000 and for 3-12 months is -63,000. This shows that overall more short-term migrants are leaving England and Wales than are entering and contrasts the pattern of greater net inflows seen in long-term migration. It also shows that three quarters of the net stock of short term migrants moved for 1 or 2 months.
Short-term immigrants to England and Wales are evenly distributed between males and females, whereas on average 46 per cent of short-term emigrants from England and Wales are female.
Approximately one third of short-term immigrants are aged 16-24, despite the total number of individuals in this age group reducing from mid-2006 to mid-2010. The outflows are more evenly spread between all age groups except the 0-15 year olds.
The majority of short-term migrants, inflows (17 per cent) and outflows (69 per cent), have British citizenship.
The number of short-term migrants arriving from Poland has dropped by 137,000 from mid-2006 to mid-2010 to 84,000. The USA is now the most common country of last residence, from which 96,000 short-term migrants arrived in mid-2010.
Spain has remained the most common country visited by short-term migrants leaving England and Wales for the last five years. 239,000 short-term migrants from England and Wales visited Spain in the year to mid-2010.
On average 90 per cent of short-term migrants move for reasons other than work or study. However, of the short term migrants who live in England and Wales for between 3 and 12 months, approximately half (49 per cent) arrived for the purpose of work or study over the last five years. In mid-2010 this figure was 54 per cent.
Figure 1 shows that the level of short term in-migration for 1-12 months dropped by 132,000 between mid-2009 and mid-2010 to 996,000; this is a 12 per cent reduction. Totals for 3-12 months also dropped by 23,000 to 214,000. This shows that one fifth of those arriving for 1-12 months stay for more than three months.
In contrast the level of short term out-migration has risen slightly. Total outflows for 1-12 months increased by 68,000 to 2,622,000 whilst totals for 3-12 months increased by 24,000 to 388,000. Hence 15 per cent of those leaving England and Wales for 1-12 months leave for more than three months.
Since mid-2004 the levels of 3-12 month migration, in and out flows, have remained relatively stable. The 1-12 month inflow peaked at 1,437,000 in mid-2006 and has been decreasing steadily since then to 996,000 in mid-2010. The 1-12 month outflows rose from mid-2004 to a peak of 2,779,000 in mid-2008; they then dropped in mid-2009 and rose again in mid-2010 to 2,622,000.
Migrant flows have been converted into stock estimates by converting the length of stay into a proportion of a year1. Assuming that short-term migration is evenly spread throughout the year this shows that at any one time in mid-2010, 193,000 short-term migrants from countries outside the UK were in England and Wales and 440,000 short-term migrants from England and Wales are in countries outside the UK. This allows net stocks to be calculated. Figure 2 shows that the net stock is -247,000; indicating that out-migration is larger than in-migration even when the length of stay is taken into account. This contrasts long-term migration figures where in-migration is larger than out-migration.
Further information on the calculation of stock estimates is available in section 2.4 of ‘Methodology to Estimate Short-term Migration for England and Wales’ (246.3 Kb Pdf)
Short-term migrant inflows are relatively evenly split between males and females; as shown in figure 3. This shows that numbers of both genders arriving in England and Wales has been declining at approximately the same pace since 2006. The short-term migrant out flows show different gender patterns. In each year since 2006 approximately 54 per cent of out-migrants have been male. This is on average 180,000 more males leaving England and Wales per year than females.
Figure 4 shows that the decline in short-term migrant inflows has been led by the 16-24 age band. In mid-2004 there were 535,000 in migrants in this age band, which is approximately five times as many as in the age bands 35-39 upwards. By mid-2010 the estimate reduces by 231,000 to 304,000; so is only three times the size of the older age bands.
The age distribution, as well as the gender distribution, of outflows also differs from the inflows. Figure 5 shows that the peak age for this group is 25-34 although the 16-24 age band is only slightly lower. There is then a second peak in the 55-64 age band. Overall the age distribution of short-term migrant outflows is much flatter than that of inflows. Just over half the migrants are male in all age bands except the 55-64 age band where 63 per cent of migrants are male.
Figures 4 and 5 also show that in all years and age bands there is a net outflow of short-term migrants from England and Wales with the exception of the 16-24 age band in mid-2006 and mid-2007.
Figure 6 shows that in mid-2010 the USA became the most common country of last residence with 96,000 migrants. This is due to the continuing fall in numbers of migrants from Poland from 221,000 in mid-2006 (over twice the number of migrants coming from Spain which was ranked 2nd at the time) to 84,000 in mid-2010. The number of migrants from other countries has remained relatively stable over the period.
Approximately 1 in 6 short term migrants to England and Wales are British citizens. 166,000 entered England or Wales in mid-2010. Half of these migrants are returning to the UK from Australia, France, Spain and the USA.
A comparison of figures 6 and 7 shows that Spain, India and the USA are in both the top five countries of last residence and the top five countries visited. Spain is the most common country visited by short-term migrants throughout the period mid-2006 to mid-2010. Numbers of short term migrants to Spain peaked at 333,000 in mid-2008 and subsequently have returned to their mid-2006 level. France and India both have estimates of approximately 200,000 throughout the period.
The citizenship estimates for the outflows show similar patterns to the country visited information with the exception of British being the most common citizenship in all five years. In mid-2010 1,817,000 British citizens made up 69 per cent of the total outflow.
Short-term migration estimates have been produced by reason for visit. These are work, study and other. Inflows from mid-2004 onwards show that an average of 12 per cent of those arriving for 1-12 months do so for the purpose of work and 16 per cent for study. In those arriving for 3-12 months the average proportions arriving for work and study increase to 23 and 26 per cent respectively.
The mid-2006 peak in inflows was caused by an increase in those arriving to work to 208,000. Since then the number of those migrating to work has generally reduced. In mid-2010 the number arriving to work was 94,000. The number arriving to study also peaked in mid-2006 at 222,000 but has not dropped as dramatically since. In mid-2010 192,000 short-term migrants arrived to study.
Short-term migration outflows are even more dominated by other reasons for migration than the inflows with on average 2 per cent of those leaving for 1-12 months are leaving for work and 1 per cent leaving for study.
Citizenship: This is the term used in the International Passenger Survey (IPS) to define the country for which a migrant is a passport holder. This refers specifically to the passport being used to enter or leave the UK at the time of interview. It does not refer to any other passport(s) which migrants may hold. More generally a British citizen is someone with citizenship usually through a connection with the UK: birth, adoption, descent, registration, or naturalisation. British citizens have the right of abode in the UK.
Flow: Flow estimates are a measure of the number of migrants who have carried out a short-term migration. Each migrant is counted upon completion of their migration event (i.e. leaving the country they migrated to).
In migration: This is the term used to describe those entering England and Wales at the start of their migration event. Short-term in migrants then remain in the UK for a period of 1-12 months before leaving the UK.
International Passenger Survey (IPS): The International Passenger Survey (IPS) is a survey of a random sample of passengers entering and leaving the UK by air, sea or the Channel Tunnel. Over a quarter of a million face-to-face interviews are carried out each year. The IPS is carried out by ONS.
Out migration: This is the term used to describe those leaving England and Wales at the start of their migration event. Short-term out migrants then remain outside of the UK for a period of 1-12 months before returning to the UK.
Stock: Stock estimates use data on flows and length of stay to convert flows into an estimate of the number of people migrating to or from England and Wales for a year (i.e. a long-term migrant equivalent). For example a flow estimate of 4 individuals each arriving for 3 months would convert into a stock estimate of 1. Likewise a flow estimate of 2 people arriving for 6 months would also convert into a stock estimate of 1. This can affect composition of the tables on country of last residence / visited. For example although there are more individuals visiting France than Pakistan and India in the flows section of table 5 these individuals are staying for a shorter period. Hence when converted into stock estimates (i.e. the equivalent of one person staying for one year) the estimate for France is lower than for either Pakistan or India.
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In parallel with this release ONS has produced Experimental Statistics relating to 3-12 month short term in-migration at Local Authority level for mid-2008 to mid-2010.
Statistics on long-term migrants and visitors to the UK are also published by the ONS and Visit Britain respectively.
ONS provides an ‘Overview of Population Statistics’ document which links to all ONS population statistics.
From 1 January 2009 certain elements of the IPS were revised to address recommendations put forward by the Inter-Departmental Task Force on Migration Statistics, 2006. The changes involved revisions to sample design, weighting and imputation methodology. These changes may result in some discontinuity in the estimates.
The provisional short-term migration estimates for mid-2011 will be published on 28th February 2013 alongside the finalised mid-2010 estimates.
The information provided to the ONS by respondents is treated as strictly confidential as directed by the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. It is used to produce statistics that will not identify any individuals.
Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available from the Media Relations Office. Also available is a list of names of those given pre-publication access to the contents of this release.
General IPS queries:
For general questions about IPS and requests for ad hoc data analysis (a service governed by the ONS Income and Charging policy):
Tel: Data Advice Relations Team 01633 455678
Name: Sarah Crofts
Tel: Migration Statistics Unit (general enquiries) 01329 444097
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