European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results

Article Category

Content archived on 2023-03-24

Article available in the following languages:

Young EU migrants positively contribute to the British economy, says EU study

An EU-funded project has discussed its recent findings with regards to young EU migrants to the United Kingdom, timely due to the country’s upcoming referendum on continued EU membership.

Researchers from the EU-funded STYLE (Strategic Transitions for Youth Labour in Europe) project have presented results from their research paper ‘Dimensions of labour market integration among young EU migrant citizens in the UK’. In advance of the UK’s 23 June referendum on EU membership, these findings provide timely and accurate information on the real impact of young EU migrants to the British economy. The researchers studied the levels of young people migrating to Britain from across the EU and elsewhere, their qualifications and what types of jobs they performed following their arrival. Overall they found that young Europeans (defined as between the ages of 20 and 34) are well integrated into the British labour market. 60 % of all migrants who had arrived in the UK in the last five years are in this age group. They have higher employment rates, work longer, and are less likely to receive unemployment benefit when compared to their British counterparts. However, the researchers also clearly identified differences in the pay and conditions young EU migrants will accept. Young EU migrants from central and eastern European Member States are often paid less and are more likely to work on precarious contracts. The researchers also found that CEE migrants were very often overqualified for the jobs that they perform. Study methodology The methodology used by the STYLE researchers focused on six different groups of young people in the UK. Specifically they focused on those who had been born outside of the UK, who were not British nationals, and were resident in the UK for one year or more, having arrived in the previous five years. The analysis was based on pooled data from the UK Labour Force Survey (2010-2014), a large survey of Britain’s resident population. The researchers then split them into the following groups: the eight CEE Member States (CEE8) that joined the EU in 2004; Bulgaria and Romania; southern European countries (Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain); all remaining EU countries; and migrants from the rest of the world. The researchers found that overall, young EU migrants have relatively high employment rates, with CEE8 young migrants having an employment rate of 82 % compared with an employment rate of 73 % for young people born in the UK. They also discovered that young EU migrants in Britain work slightly longer hours than their British counterparts – workers on average in the UK work a 40-hour week, with most EU migrant citizens working at least one extra hour per week. Concerning unemployment rates, the researchers found that whilst 8.5 % of those born in Britain were unemployed between 2010 and 2014, just 5 % of those from the CEE8 Member States had been without a job. Moreover, the probability of unemployed EU migrant citizens receiving unemployment benefits was around 20 %, compared to 38 % amongst young British nationals. Assessing young EU migrants’ economic contribution The project researchers also discovered that young EU migrant workers overall made a positive contribution to the UK’s economy, due to a number of factors. Firstly, they alleviate skills shortages, with CEE8 and Romanian and Bulgarian citizens in Britain much more likely to work in manufacturing or construction. The researchers pointed out that they thus positively contribute to the British government’s long-term strategy to rebalance the UK economy away from a reliance on the services industry. Much more surprising, and contrary to general belief, young migrants from Romania and Bulgaria are just as likely as young British nationals to work in the financial services industry. The study also shows that many of the EU migrant citizens in the UK are highly qualified, and often overqualified for the jobs they are working in. Young migrants from the rest of the EU and outside Europe did better than expected in the jobs they secured when matched with the median for qualifications held by others in the same occupation. In terms of pay, the researchers found differences – CEE8 and Bulgarian/Romanian nationals are paid around one fifth less than their UK peers in terms of hourly wages, whilst Southern Europeans have a comparable rate, and those from the rest of Europe (mostly French and German nationals) having on average more than 20 % higher hourly wages. Overall, young EU migrants are well integrated into the UK labour market and provide much needed skills in various sectors of the British economy. However, there are significant differences when it comes to comparison of their pay and skills, with migrants from CEE8 and Bulgaria/Romania being at a distinct disadvantage. The STYLE project, coordinated by the University of Brighton, is due to finish in August 2017. For more information please see: STYLE project website


United Kingdom

Related articles