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The UK – a decade of immigration

The UK population increased by more than 9 per cent in the past ten years and patterns of immigration have changed. Generally, the Euro crisis is perceived to be the major catalyst but evidence shows this might not be entirely true.

In the past year, 1 in 8 UK residents were born abroad. This number is reflecting a demographic development in which foreign nationals have migrated significantly to the UK in the last decade. The following charts illustrate the evolution:

A colonial past makes the UK by definition a multi-ethnic society, but recent data indicates that although immigration to the UK keeps coming from all corners of the world, impressive amounts of people are arriving from nearby Europe. The next charts present the most common nationality groups and their population in the UK and the capital, today compared to a decade ago:

In 2014, the number of UK residents holding EU nationality (excluding British) outnumbered for the second year in a row those that hold non-EU nationality, and by half a million. However, some nuance is needed to grasp the situation correctly.

Poland and Romania are the countries that show remarkable rises in migration statistics, but neither of them are part of the Eurozone. From 44,000 residents in 2004, Polish nationals have outstripped any other non-British group by doubling their number times 19. There were only 7,000 Romanians living in the UK in 2004 and they doubled their number times 25 in only ten years.

These evolutions do not have much to do with the Euro crisis itself but with the broadening of the EU area that happened throughout 2004 and 2007.

It is true, for example, that the Italian community doubled its presence in the capital but people tend to forget that Italians have always been a prominent foreign nationality in the UK. The real change is seen in fast-growing communities like Poland and Romania that till ten years ago were almost inexistent on British territory.

Words by Claudia De Meulemeester

Picture: Creative Commons


Annual Population Survey:


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