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 4: Economic Drivers of Internal Migration

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


4.1 INTRODUCTION When it comes to migration there is nothing more basic than the political economy of a country. The UK is primarily a capitalist society. Large private sector companies produce goods and services, or speculate and rent-seek, to make a profit. The investment decisions taken by these companies fix, directly or indirectly, the locations of employment and of related wealth-making opportunities across many sectors of the economy, including, indirectly, the public sector. Jobs in turn affect where people choose to live, or, to varying degrees, are forced to live. Migration from one area to another within the UK is, therefore, very largely determined by these location decisions, and by the need for people to obtain employment in the first place, or to improve their, and their families’, living standards. They do this by migrating from a place where job prospects (such as pay, promotion possibilities, security of employment, working conditions, etc.) are poor, to one where they are good (Donovan et al., 2002). This means that migrants typically move from those places that are stagnating through a lack of investment, or are being run down by disinvestment, to those places that are being boosted by new investment. At the same time, recognizing the importance of labour costs to their overall profitability, and facing the reluctance of workers to leave their home communities, companies will often seek out for investment purposes those places that have reserves of cheap and easily managed labour (Green, 2004). In this way, workers move to...

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