Migration in Britain

Migration in Britain

Paradoxes of the Present, Prospects for the Future

Tony Fielding

Migration in Britain takes a fresh look at the patterns of migration at both the regional and local levels and develops new theoretical frameworks and novel methods to explain these patterns. It anticipates British society and its internal migration flows fifty years hence in the absence of climate change, and comes to judgments about how and in what ways these migration flows might be affected by climate change.

Chapter 1: Migration: Concepts, Methods and Values

Tony Fielding

Subjects: development studies, migration, geography, human geography, politics and public policy, migration, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, migration, urban and regional studies, migration


A rich analytical and theoretical literature on internal migration patterns, processes and trends in the UK already exists. This literature will be reviewed, and hopefully extended, in the sections and chapters that follow. The main emphasis of this first part of the book, however, will be on describing these patterns and trends, not on identifying their underlying processes or ‘drivers’. Therefore, if the reader is not interested in statistical descriptions and does not share this author’s enthusiasm for maps and graphs, or alternatively thinks that they know most of the relevant facts already, then they should skip Part I and move directly to Part II. We know from the Office for National Statistics that about 6 million people in the UK change their place of residence every year. Most of these migrants move only over a very short distance. About 2 million move far enough to cross the borders of the health district (typically counties) in which they live. And about 1 million migrants migrate far enough to cross the borders of the Government’s Official Regions (GORs). Three considerations, however, need to be kept in mind: (1) that these figures vary across the business cycle, with higher figures during boom years than in recessions; (2) that the rates of migration per 1000 population have tended to fall or remain roughly steady since the early post-World War II days (despite the class structure shift towards the mobile middle classes and away from the less mobile working classes); and (3) that UK...

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