Migration is the movement of people within and between countries. Internal migration refers to the movement of people within the same country, and external migration is the movement of people between different countries.

The number one reason for migration of UK-born people out of the UK is to go to a job in another country. Usually, they found the job while they were still in the UK and only move when they definitely have a job to go to. The same is true for people who leave their home countries to come to the UK; one of the most common reasons people come to the UK is to take up a job.

Because UK universities have been successful in attracting students from overseas, migration of students from outside the EU for education has increased greatly since the 1990s. Because work and study are major drivers of immigration, migrants tend to be younger than native-born people, with medium and high-level qualifications and employment rates equivalent to their native-born counterparts. This is important because young working immigrants can help stimulate the economy by being employed, paying taxes and being consumers.

In addition, armed conflict in some parts of the world has also contributed to immigration to the UK. The UK is seen as a safe place to live for some migrants who were in danger in the country in which they were living, these migrants are termed asylum seekers.

Internal Migration

The map below illustrates inward and outward internal migration in Scotland. You can explore inward and outward internal migration in England and Wales by visiting the Office of National Statistics website.


1) In 2017, how many people moved out of Glasgow City? How many people moved to Glasgow? What was the net migration in Glasgow in 2017?

External Migration

On the Office of National Statistics website, you can investigate what has influenced long-term migration into and out of the UK from 1964 to 2012.

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The ESRC Centre for Population Change aims to improve our understanding of the extent, drivers and implications of population change in the UK and beyond.
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